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Current and former armed forces personnel can claim compensation any injury or illness which was caused by service. Family members may claim for compensation for personnel whose death was caused by service.

There are two main schemes. The armed forces compensation scheme (ACFS) applies from 6 April 2005, while the War Pensions scheme applies to claims for injuries or illnesses prior to that date.

The AFCS will be reviewed in 2022. A backbench business debate will discuss the schemes on 24 March 2022.

What is the Armed Forces Compensation scheme?

The AFCS applies when the illness or injury was caused as a result of service on or after 6 April 2005.

The AFCS provides a lump sum payment for pain and suffering. For those who suffer significant loss of earning capacity, the scheme also offers a regular tax-free ‘Guaranteed Income Payment’ (GIP), payable for life.

It is a no-fault scheme which means payment is made without admitting fault. Receiving a payment does not preclude an individual from bringing a claim through the common law damages route, although an individual cannot be compensated twice for the same injury.

All current and former members of the UK armed forces, including reservists, may submit a claim for compensation. Time limits apply.

Review of the scheme in 2022

The scheme is due to be reviewed in 2022. This is known as the quinquennial review, and comes five years after the previous review, in 2017.

Owen Thompson will lead a backbench business debate on the compensation schemes on 24 March 2022. He has raised concerns about extended delays for claimants.

Other issues that have been raised with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by MPs include the use of Veterans UK medical advisors. The MOD said their role will be included in the 2022 quinquennial review. The MOD is also planning to put all pension and compensation services as part of a wider £44 million digitalise programme by Veterans UK. This, the MOD says, will reduce the time taken to respond to veterans’ services.

The War Pensions Scheme

The War Pensions scheme (WPS) provides compensation for any injury, illness or death which was caused by service before 6 April 2005. This should not be confused with the occupational armed forces pension scheme.

War Pensions can be claimed at any time after leaving the Armed Forces, but the rules regarding the burden of proof are more restrictive if the claim is made more than seven years after leaving service, and an award will usually only start from the date of the claim.

The scheme is calculated on a percentage basis, relating to the severity of the disablement.

  • a gratuity is a lump sum payment for disablement less than 20%
  • a pension is an ongoing payment paid weekly or monthly for disablement more than 20%.

Supplementary allowances may apply if the award reaches a threshold of 40, 60 or 80%.

A War Widow(er)’s Pension is paid to the surviving spouse or civil partner of someone whose death was due to, or hastened by, their military service. In some circumstances an unmarried partner can also qualify. 

Further information

The schemes are administered by Veterans UK, which sits within Defence Business Services in the Ministry of Defence.

Financial information about the scheme is published in the Armed Forces Pension Scheme annual accounts, rather than the Ministry of Defence annual reports.

Statistical data about the schemes are published annually can be found on

Information about the scheme how to make a claim, are available on Free help with compensation claims for injury in the armed forces and on Veterans Gateway.

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