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Armed Forces Compensation Scheme - BBC File on Four Exposes The Problems

This week I contributed to a special documentary on BBC File on Four - The Final Battle: Veterans fighting for compensation - which outlined problems veterans face when applying to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

The programme features the stories of veterans who served bravely in our armed forces, often in life or death situations. They are now facing another battle against their former employers as they seek to live an independent life following injury or illness.

Sadly, since becoming injured many have faced huge challenges going through the AFCS process – a situation that sadly I see every day in my work with veterans who are not getting the support they need.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

The AFCS was set up by the Government to provide compensation to military personnel injured on or after 6 April 2005. Managed by Veterans UK, it uses a tariff system to award set payments for injuries caused by service.

But the Scheme is often criticised for rejecting valid claims, undervaluing injuries, not properly taking into account the impact on mental health and taking too long to resolve claims. 

By helping veterans with their applications and challenging the AFCS on their behalf we often achieve a higher compensation award that they were originally offered by the scheme.

I told BBC File on Four that we see the MoD use a variety of tactics to reject or downgrade claims which has a huge impact on those veterans affected.

The process can also be incredibly complex, especially if a claim goes to a tribunal to make decisions. Court papers can be complicated and contain many pages of evidence which can put veterans off appealing the original decisions.

We also know of many veterans who are unwilling to bring claims as they see the armed forces as an extension of their family and when they receive their original award from the AFCS, many are just conditioned to accept what they are told by the authorities regardless of whether it is the best result for them.

A survey by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Veterans also found 75% of veterans rated their experience of the AFCS as poor, while 84% said not enough consideration had been given to their mental or physical health.

The Future

The Government responded earlier this year to a recent quinquennial review of the AFCS which made a series of recommendations to improve the scheme. On the whole we felt that many of the proposed changes were welcome, but its important that they are actually implemented. 

We also believe that the scheme should be more independent from the Ministry of Defence so that Veterans can apply to the scheme safe in the knowledge that there will be no conflicts of interest.

These soldiers risked their lives for our country, it is only fair that our country now supports them properly.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Armed Forces Compensation Claims.