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House Of Commons Debate About War Pensions And Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Payments12th May 2022 Armed Forces Claims
The current process for claiming War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation payments has recently been discussed at Government level by way of a Parliamentary debate on 28th March 2022.
Veterans physically or mentally injured during service before 6 April 2005 can apply for war pension payments, and anyone injured after that date can apply under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).
Both schemes are designed to provide compensation to UK serving and former serving personnel who have been injured as a result of their service to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. The rules of the Scheme and the value of the payments awarded are set by Parliament and calculated by reference to a tariff-based system compensating illness, injury or death.
Unfortunately, for many personnel the claims process does not run smoothly; with veterans facing lengthy waits to have their claims assessed only to be rejected or paid the wrong amount. Often, they have no choice but to undergo lengthy and difficult struggles to appeal their case at tribunals. Recent statistics reveal that just 13% of those personnel surveyed gave the AFCS a positive rating above 5/10, meanwhile half of Veterans rated their satisfaction 1/10! 80% were dissatisfied with the claims process.
In the Parliamentary debate on 28th March 2022, MPs heavily criticised the scheme describing it as breaching its duty of care towards Veterans.
MPs heard of veterans struggling to prove that their health conditions were caused by their military service and feeling that medical files proving the link between service and injuries were being ignored. Veterans described being made to feel they are ”guilty until proven innocent”.
Calls were made for root and branch reform to the system and for an independent inquiry to investigate how Veterans UK has arrived at its “cutthroat” culture of cost cutting.
At JMW Solicitors LLP, we have seen firsthand the difficulties service personnel face when making AFCS claims; particularly in relation to claims for PTSD and other mental health conditions. We have seen claims rejected as the diagnosis has been made by the “wrong type” of doctor and despite the applicant undergoing years of treatment for the condition; or being made to wait years for a final payment and closure. This causes unnecessary additional anguish for those already paying a high price for their service to the Country.
The Secretary of State for Defence, People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, confirmed The Government are injecting £40 million into digitising both the War Pensions Scheme and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, which should result in a quicker process. Recent pilots have resulted in claims that previously took six weeks with the paper system, now taking six hours. However, we do not believe this goes far enough and a full scale review of the AFCS is required and we urge the Government to listen to veterans and service personnel who have direct experience of the Scheme and the difficulties they have faced when making an AFCS claim.
If you are a serving member of the Armed Forces, or a veteran and have suffered injuries as a result of your service, our expert military team can advise you, contact us today on 0345 241 5305. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.