The British Army takes relatively good care of its employees in comparison to most soldiers and service people around the world, having world-class doctors and surgeons treating battlefield and peacetime injuries, excellent rehabilitation services and a much improved psychological care system.
This has not always been the case, however, and many people do not know that they can claim compensation for injuries that occurred during their time in the Army.
There are three areas in which compensation can be granted:
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, or AFCS, which covers everything after the 6th of April 2005;
The War Pensions Scheme, or WPS, which covers compensation for the injuries or disablements that were caused by service before the 6th of April 2005.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme, for those who were the victims of crime while serving overseas.
If the injury or crime happened on UK, you are protected by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, just as any other person would be.
Veterans UK is the agency that manages compensation schemes on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. If an injury occurs in the line of service, a claim may be automatically considered by Veterans UK, if this has not happened, they can be contacted for advice and action on claims on 0808 1914 218. There is help available with the completion of forms and all submissions should be made on paper.
The Armed Forces do not admit fault for any injuries, illnesses or deaths that occur and are claimed for with the AFCS, so death in combat is not their fault, or being shot at. However, if safety equipment was not provided or was inadequate, they can be held liable under UK law. The claimant can submit a claim while still serving in the Armed Forces.
All former and current members of the Armed Forces are eligible to submit a claim. This includes reservists. The cut off point for claiming is 7 years after the incident, with the exception of illnesses that did not manifest themselves until a later point. In this case, the claimant has three years from obtaining medical advice to submit their claim. This includes mental disorders and anything malignant or physically disabling that is the result of some part of service.
Covered in the scheme is any injury or illness sustained because of the claimant’s service. This can be minor fractures to death. In the case of death, the compensation will be paid out to the family of the victim.
The AFCS does not conflict with any private medical insurance, compensation is paid regardless of your private cover.
Benefits are paid in two main ways: as a lump sum or as a Guaranteed Income Payment, or GIP.
A lump sum can range between £1,236 to £650,000, depending on the severity of the injury and the impact on the claimant. Each injury can be claimed for separately, even from the same incident, and each can be worth up to £650,000.
A GIP is a tax-free monthly payment that is index linked and calculated on a number of factors, including the severity of injury and the potential for further work.
GIPS are paid from the end of service if claimed during service, or from the date of the successful claim.
The criteria for eligibility is complicated but comprehensive, it covers all injury types and severities. Contact Veterans UK for a clearer picture of what the compensation might be.
Armed Forces Independence Payment
Similar to a pension or disability allowance, the AFIP is available to those who have been seriously injured during their service and is aimed at covering extra costs related to the injuries sustained.
Currently, the limit is £145.35 per week. There is no assessment or reassessment.
Covering the time before 6th April 2005, the WPS works in much the same way as the AFPS, with compensation paid in a lump sum or as a pension (see above).
There is no time limit for WPS claims unless you are a civilian volunteer (3 months), and “any injury or illness that has been made worse by result of service” is eligible for a claim.
This scheme is designed to give UK service personnel a comparable level of compensation when overseas to that of the UK. Armed Forces personnel and reservists, cadets and instructors, all can claim for CIC(O) if they have been criminally injured or died overseas, not including death during war.
If a person dies in service, their immediate family will be the beneficiaries of any compensation paid, unless specified in a will.
Supporting a Claim
Claims need as much detail about an injury as possible: area of an injury, the effect of the injury, where, when and how it occurred or you first noticed it, whether it was in the service, during sporting activities, during combat etc.
Corroboration is often needed, so Veterans UK will likely contact the claimant’s GP or practitioner for reports they have made.
Claim legislation is regularly updated and amended, be sure to check with the latest legislation on the Government website or get legal advice on armed forces compensation.