I have received several calls from injured servicemen and veterans who have suffered an injury whilst on military duty but are unsure how to claim an award through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or War Pension Scheme. This brief guide should be of assistance.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – AFCS
This scheme covers all service related injuries with effect from 6th April 2005. The injury or illness must have been caused by service or service is the predominant cause. You do not need to have left the military before making a claim and you do not need to prove fault.
You have 7 years from the date of the injury to claim, or in the case of a late onset illness or physical problem, which includes mental disorders such as PTSD, the claim must be submitted to Veterans UK within 3-years of you first seeking medical advice. Most awards are lump sums. If the lump sum reaches a certain higher tariff then, upon medical discharge, an award called a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) may also be paid. This is a monthly sum broadly based upon a % of your annual salary at the time of discharge.
Note: If Veterans UK makes you an award, by doing so they are not admitting fault for your injury, but the fact that they have done so confirms that the MOD accepts that your injury was caused by your service.
How to Claim an AFCS award
You should apply to Veterans UK as soon as possible after the injury. Money is set aside each year by the Government to compensate our injured troops and it is your right to claim. You can download and prepare the application yourself, a link to which is here, or call Veterans UK for assistance. You may ask a reputable service charity to help you or, we can prepare the application for you for a modest fee, payable only if the application is successful. The more complex the case, the greater the incentive should be for getting expert advice and support from us. We would need your permission to receive a full copy of your service medical records before preparing the application and supporting evidence, such as a witness statement, giving a fuller picture of the effect the injuries have on your day to day activities.
You can only claim after you have left service and your continuing disablement (it must still be causing you a problem at the time of claiming) was caused as a result of an injury suffered during your service before 6 April 2005. There are no time limits on claiming but, and I stress, you must have a continuing disability because the decision on whether to award you a war pension depends on how serious your disablement is. That assessment is made as a percentage. If the doctors instructed by Veterans UK assess your disablement at 20% or more, then they will usually pay you a regular pension, usually monthly. Payments are backdated to the date you made the application. If your disablement is assessed at less than 20%, they pay a lump sum, called a gratuity. The amount depends on the extent of the disablement and how long they assess you are likely to be disabled. A link to the War Pension scheme is here and the application form is the same as the one used for AFCS claims.
Lastly, you must get some independent financial advice. I hear too many sad stories of guys who have received huge AFCS awards for their catastrophic life-changing injuries, only to fritter all the money away on expensive cars, Vegas trips for ten, and debt consolidation for long-lost relatives! Its your money guys. You sacrificed yourself and so you earned it – be wise and look after it, please.
Grant is a former British Army Commando. He has specialised in military compensation claims for almost two decades and he is an expert in this complex area of law