Retiring early due to cancer

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Hi,  I have been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer.  The tumor is on the supermesenteric vein and cannot be removed.  I am undergoing chemotherapy (6 fortnightly trearments with Folfox 5FU.  I have been informed this will probably be followed by another 6 sessions after a 4 week break.  I will be 63 years old in July 2024.  As there is no cure and no one is able to give me a prognosis, I would really like to finish work.  I work full time at the NHS as a medical secretary.  Will the fact that this cancer is not curable (they will manage the cancer) mean that I can retire early due to ill health?  I would just like some advice before I speak to my employer.  

Many thanks


  • Hi ,

    Many thanks for your question. I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

    This is just a short message to let you know that I have moved your question over to our Ask a Financial Guide forum, as they are the team who will be best positioned to provide you with information relating to retirement options and entitlements.

    One of our Financial Guides will respond to your question as soon as they are available.

    Please don't forget that if you need any other support, our Macmillan Support Line teams are available on freephone 0808 808 00 00. Our Support Line is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

    If you need any help using our Community forums, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us in the Online Community Team. You’re welcome to send us an email at, or you can send a private message to the Moderator account.

    All the best,
    Macmillan Online Community Team

  • Thanks for your question  


    I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, all the best for your treatment and if you need to speak to one of our nurses then they have their own forum on the online community, or you can contact them by phone and webchat.


    We’d need a bit more information to give you the correct guidance and talk through the options with you, so would like to invite you to call us on 0808 808 0000, Option 1, then 2, then 1, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, to discuss further. We’re also on webchat if you prefer. In the meantime, I’ve detailed some information for you which you might find useful.


    Pensions can usually be accessed from age 55 as early retirement. If you have an NHS pension, you’ll usually get a tax-free lump sum and an annual income paid for life. If someone takes early retirement, a reduced amount is paid to account for it being in payment for longer. If someone retires due to ill health, a higher pension is usually paid.


    Ill-health retirement (IHR) can be taken at any age and is based on capability to work and how a person’s health conditions affect this. To qualify for IHR, you must have been part of the NHS pension scheme for at least 2 years and be permanently incapable of doing your job at NHS due to ill health. If someone has less than a year left to live, then they may also qualify to access the pension early on grounds of ill health. The benefits might differ depending on how you access the pension so it’s important you speak to us so we can chat to you about this.


    There’s lots to consider, such as how any income might affect any means tested benefits you may be entitled to. Also, once someone has retired from NHS, they will no longer have Death in Service benefit. There’s different information which would need to be sent out depending on which part of the UK you live in.


    Just to clarify, the Financial Guidance Service can provide information and guidance on all aspects of your personal finances to help you make informed decisions in the following areas;

    • Pensions and retirement options
    • Questions about insurance policies
    • Mortgages and money management
    • Arranging wills and trusts to protect your family
    • General financial planning questions


    You can also talk to us or our Welfare rights team on 0808 808 0000 or via our webchat service.

    We look forwards to speaking with you soon.




    Financial Guide