Invalid fights for pension

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A STROKE victim aged 57 is fighting to make his life insurance company pay him an invalidity pension he says he is entitled to since falling ill three years ago, writes Nic Cicutti.

Michael Dalley also wants Crown Financial to waive the pounds 98-a-month pension premiums he should be paying - another benefit he claims is owed.

Crown Financial, based in Woking, first wrote to Mr Dalley saying that he could not be paid because he failed to disclose relevant medical information when he started his pension in June 1982.

It now wants to examine all his medical records to determine whether the strokes have left him permanently disabled.

Mr Dalley argues that he had a medical test and gave all the information sought when his pension plan started. After making his benefit claim he was examined again by a company doctor, who was also able to study records kept by his GP.

He said: 'The information they claim I denied them refers to an annual check-up for a totally non-life-threatening condition I had as a young man, cured many years ago. I am very disappointed they are trying to stop me having my benefits. Having suffered three strokes, this is hardly doing much for my health. I am having to live on pounds 40 a week state benefits for myself, plus a further pounds 30 invalidity allowance which I get for caring for my mother, who is herself disabled.'

The pension Mr Dalley started with Crown Financial in 1982 also offered a disability pension worth pounds 750 a month. Another benefit was waiver of premiums, where a company forgoes future contributions if a person is unable to keep working. Premium waivers are not affected by the amount earned in a tax year. The final pension payable, however, assumes the premiums have been paid.

Mr Dalley said: 'I had my first stroke in late 1990 and my second one a short while later. In March 1991, following advice from my doctor, I stopped work. I waited until the six months stipulated in my contract were up and then got in touch with Crown for a claim form. What with one thing and another, it was not until more than nine months after that I was seen by the insurance company's doctor.'

Mr Dalley claimed he was also told that because he paid pension premiums while he was not working, those contributions would be refunded. But the company told him this might make him ineligible for waiver of premium benefits.

Greg Osborne, compliance officer at Crown Financial, said: 'The sums that are being claimed are potentially high, so we are under some obligation to obtain access to Mr Dalley's medical records in order to assess his claim. Once we get the medical evidence we need that proves that he is disabled, we will admit the claim. If we reach the conclusion that he is totally disabled and it is a permanent condition, then we will credit the policy with the premiums that are being waived.'

(Photograph omitted)