And then the Earth moved

…or maybe the Goalposts

Things take over. Weeks of visiting and sometimes even staying in hospital overnight for a loved one seem to be over when she is back at home. But not before one really bad day. She is just wasting away, leading to me to realise that she might not be for this Life for much longer – resulting in a long sleepless night at home. Spending the whole day waiting around for another medical appointment proves to be as exhausting as working long hours in a proper job. And that “bad day” proves to just that, with a huge improvement the next day. Volunteering (& blogging) is very much on the back burner with only a couple of evenings in three months at the soup kitchen. TPAS send an urgent email – they need more phone volunteers for April.

Annuities are Theft!

This comment from a fellow IFA many years ago which I have quoted more than once in these pages, seems to have found an ear in this government with the message – Well children, you can behave like grown-ups now – where your pension is concerned. The unasked question might be – what took you so long?

And for the less fortunate?

Where does that leave those who have cancer or the terminally-ill where access to their pensions is concerned? Reading through the many scheduled changes and areas of consultation in the current Finance Bill, show no hint of change to Serious Ill-health Lump-sum payments. All the same, methinks it’s best to check and 24 hours later, with the quickest response I have ever had from HMRC (or any government office) – its’ no change. Even better, they quote a link to a consultation document on greater pension flexibility from 2015, issued by H M Treasury

Perhaps CancerIFA’s idea of increasing the Serious Ill-health Lump-sum Payment time limit from 12 months to 36 months, is not dead in the water after all. But as it’s been a while, let me summarise our current situation:

* in normal health & 55 years or older, you can now: take 25 per cent tax-free cash (as before) and the balance as income – the last bit is the huge change. But this income is taxable.

* as above, but under 55 years? No change really and if you see anything that smells like pension liberation – promising you your pension funds before this age, avoid it. Even if you were one of the early ones who got all their pension money out, don’t be surprised if a 55 per cent surcharge bill arrives in the post.

* in serious ill-health with less than 12 months to live, no change. Your pension funds can be paid out tax-free, up to a generous 7-figure limit. You need the medical confirmation of this, but then in CancerIFA’s work, this is usually the easy bit, although doctors charge up to £300 for the report.

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Case Histories

First case history here and second one here, both clients sadly now deceased.

Third enquiry comes from the employer of a married man not yet 40 with young children. After quoting my terms, nothing happens for 3 months but then it’s all go, and the client and I eventually have a chat. Cancer started some years ago and treatment given. Feels better, goes back to work but this does not work out and he has been on sick leave ever since. A two page summary of the issues involved is sent to the client and then nothing for a while. There is little for CancerIFA to do as the employer has promised to pay everything to him except the Death-in-Service benefit. I leave things and mention alternative treatments, but he is not really interested. With confirmation that no further input from me is required, my invoice goes off to the employer who pay with little fuss.

Most recent enquiry comes while I am sleeping at the hospital. An acknowledgement is sent and then it goes quiet again. This enquiry via YestoLife, is from a lady with just over a year to live. Unlike the other enquiries, this lady is trying lots of alternative treatments and surprise, surprise, the tumour has shrunk slightly. I mention the Loving Medicine book featuring among others, my own father’s case where alternative treatment gave him an extra 16 years. Offering to send my own spare copy, the lady says she will buy it herself and is grateful for my mentioning it.

Not Appreciated

Slightly different from a friend to whom I sent the same book upon his diagnosis of cancer, where he gives it back to me 3 months later with no comment or words of thanks.

George Emsden
Now retired, George is busier than ever: working through an OU Maths & Physics degree, blogs, volunteering at Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen and Haringey Winter Shelter plus being a very proud granddad.