MANCHESTER - 24th July | LONDON - 31st October
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What should military leavers know about the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

Injuries and illnesses sustained during service can make it difficult to find ex military jobs after leaving the armed forces or limit the number of options of jobs for veterans in the UK available. While turning to a specialist recruiter with experience in this area, or attending events like Veteran UK, can help with this, you are also likely to be entitled to financial support from the government.

However, it might not be clear if you’re eligible for help under this scheme, or what you need to do in order to take advantage. Therefore, if you have been injured or picked up an illness while serving, here’s everything you need to know about getting the help you need.

What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme entitles current and former members of the military to financial help for any injury, illness or death that occurred as a result of their service on or after 6 April 2005. For those who experienced an injury or illness as a result of an incident before this date, separate support is available under the War Pensions Scheme (WPS).

In the event of a service-related death, an AFCS claim can also be made, with benefits being paid to partners or children.

The AFCS is separate from other schemes that can provide financial assistance, such as PAX or Service Life Insurance. Therefore, any additional accident coverage that you may have is not taken into account when determining an AFCS award.

How does the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme work?

The AFCS is a ‘no-fault’ scheme, meaning it does not require HM Armed Forces or any individual to accept blame for an injury or illness. This means that if you do receive a payment, you may still be able to make a civil claim for common law damages, although an individual cannot be compensated twice for the same injury.

Compensation under the AFCS comes in two basic forms. These are:

  • Lump sum – A one-off, tax-free payment to compensate for any pain or suffering incurred, based on the severity of the illness or injury.
  • Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) – This provides a tax-free monthly payment paid from the point of discharge from the armed forces for the rest of an individual’s life. It is typically reserved only for the most serious cases and is considered based on a number of factors, including the effect of the injury on future promotion prospects or finding work after leaving the armed forces.

Who is eligible for the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

All armed forces service personnel across the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are covered by the AFCS, including reservists. Unlike the War Pension Scheme, you do not have to wait until you’ve left military service to make a claim, as it is open to serving and retired individuals alike.

What types of injuries does the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme cover?

Any type of illness or injury may be covered by the scheme, with the amount of money you get dependent on its severity. For example, claims can range from relatively minor fractures to serious injuries such as the loss of a limb. It can also include mental health conditions.

You can also make a claim for injuries sustained during service-related activities such as Adventurous Training, physical exercise or organised sport like inter-service athletics. Injuries and illnesses acquired during social events, travel to and from work, unapproved sporting activities and most slips and falls are typically excluded.

However, as each claim is assessed on its own merit, it is often worth obtaining legal advice from an expert to determine whether you are likely to be successful.

How much compensation could I get from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

For a successful armed forces compensation claim for incidents after 6 April 2005 that pays out a lump sum, the amount you get will be between £1,236 and £650,000, depending on the severity of the illness.

GIP, meanwhile, is based on your salary, age and the severity of the injury. If the level of a GIP would be 50 percent of your salary or more, you can also claim an Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) of £172.75 per week, which is tax free and paid every four weeks into your bank account.

How do you apply to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

If you think you are entitled to financial support from the government due to an injury or illness received during military service, you can make a claim directly with Veterans UK, the government department responsible for handling these affairs.

What is the process for applying to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

You can make a claim for an AFCS payment yourself online via the UK government’s website or by filling out a paper form and posting it. These documents can be requested by calling the Veterans UK helpline or emailing veterans-uk@mod.gov.uk.

Claimants do not need the help of a paid specialist personal injury or military claims solicitor to complete the process, but many people may find this helpful. Alternatively, free support can be obtained from the Veterans Welfare Service or charities such as the Royal British Legion.

If you left the armed forces with a medical discharge, however, you might not have to do anything, as your service documents may have already been referred to Veterans UK. In certain circumstances, the government will automatically consider whether you are entitled to an award.

What documentation is required to apply for the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

In order to make a successful claim, you may be required to provide a range of evidence about your injury or illness, how it occurred and what impact it has had on your life. Common supporting documentation that your case worker will look into includes:

  • Electronic Service Medical Records
  • Post-discharge medical evidence, such as casenotes obtained directly from hospitals where you were treated
  • An up-to-date report from your GP
  • Details of your Commanding Officer, who may be contacted for further information

What is the time limit for applying to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

In order to make a successful AFCS claim, you must begin your application within seven years of the incident or onset of the medical condition. While it will typically be easy to identify this date for a physical injury, it may be less obvious if you’re making a claim for an illness or mental disorder. In these cases, the seven-year timer will start from the first date on which you sought medical advice.

However, if you are claiming for an illness that did not present itself until some time after the event that caused it, you can do so anytime within three years of first seeking medical advice.

How long does it take to get compensation from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

The government aims to process applications and provide compensation within six months of a claim being made. However, in practice, it may take longer than this, especially for more serious and complex cases. If Veterans UK is unable to finalise a claim within three months, it will begin issuing progress updates every 12 weeks until completion of the claim.

If treatment is still ongoing for the injury or illness, an interim decision may be made, which will see you receive compensation that reflects the extent of your injury or illness at that time. This decision will be evaluated within two years and may see your total level of compensation change.

What can you do if you are unhappy with the result of your compensation claim?

If you believe your claim was wrongly rejected, or are dissatisfied with the level of compensation offered, you can ask for it to be reconsidered. This must be done in writing within 12 months of the date of the original decision notification and may include additional information to support your case which you did not provide at the time of your claim.

This will result in your decision being reviewed by a case worker who was not involved in the original application. In the event this still does not lead to the resolution you were hoping for, you then have the option to appeal to an independent tribunal, provided you do so within 12 months of the final decision.

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