Nick Stone died earlier this year at James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth after catching Covid while working at the Norwich City School, his family believes
Image: Helen Pentelow/change.org)
A family has lost more than £100,000 after a loved one died from Covid, likely caught in the classroom.
Helen Pentelow was devastated when her brother Nick Stone lost his life earlier this year after a traumatic two-week battle with Covid-19.
As she mourned along with other family members, including her mother, the engineering firm owner received some unwelcome news.
The big pension fund that Nick had diligently contributed to during his 31 years at the City of Norwich School was gone.
As the 55-year-old was not married or in a civil partnership, the hard-earned money was collected by Teachers Pensions – although Nick nominated his mother as his beneficiary.
Now Helen, who estimated there was between £100.00 and £150,000 in the pot before the post was adjusted, is working to highlight a gap affecting people across the public sector.
“No amount of money could ever bring Nick back, we’d have everything to let him walk through the door again,” Helen told the Mirror.
“It’s the principle. He worked so hard and pocketed all this money and now this. I’m heartbroken for him.”
When he died, Nick was the senior staff member at the City of Norwich School, where he had worked as a foreign language teacher for 31 years.
He was taken to James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth after contracting Covid in December and was put on a ventilator after ten days of care.
Nick, who was stabbed twice and had his booster booked, died in intensive care on January 2, 2022 with his family by his side.
Two months after his death, his mother received a death benefit paid to the families of teachers who lost their lives while working.
The expected payout from his pension pot never came.
‘I called Teacher Pensions last week,’ Helen said.
“They just said, ‘What your mother gets is full and final severance pay.’ He had nominated her, but because he is not married, the pension died with him.
“We estimate he had well over £100,000 invested. He was paying £450 a month before he died.
“They were very matter-of-fact that if you’re single, widowed or divorced, you get nothing. He paid it for his age or for his mother.
“We believe he caught it at his place of work and the final insult is they won’t pay his pension.”
After Nick’s death, Helen found solace in the great support from friends and colleagues at his school.
She continued: “Nick put the children’s welfare first, his life was his job. It’s just heartbreaking. He was loved so much at school.
“We have made a trophy for modern foreign languages and will present it at the school in a few weeks. There will be a commemoration in May.”
Helen Morrissey, Senior Pensions and Retirement Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “While a spouse or civil partner is entitled to death benefits on the death of a member, other family members would need to demonstrate that they are financially dependent on the member to qualify.
“Unfortunately, since the mother is not financially dependent on the member, she would not be entitled to the pension.
“There’s a chance she could receive a voluntary lump sum payment known as a death benefit if she was also nominated for it.
“This pays a multiple of the annual pension, which depends on which scheme they were a member of, whether they were still an active member of the scheme, and whether they have already started drawing the pension.”
A Teacher Pensions said it could not comment on individual cases, but confirmed certain conditions had to be met in order for pensions to be paid to nominee family members.
They state that “the family member must be wholly or principally dependent financially on the member at the time of death”.
The spokesperson added, “We do not write specifically to all members who have made a nomination as we can only assess the circumstances of the dependency after we are notified of the member’s death.”