Guidance

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)

A compensation scheme for UK serving and former service personnel injured as a result of their service in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

Overview

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The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) compensates for any injury, illness or death which was caused by service on or after 6 April 2005.

There are 2 main types of AFCS awards:

  • a tax free lump sum payment for pain and suffering
  • a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) which is a tax free, index linked monthly payment.

The rules of the scheme and the value of the payments awarded are set by Parliament and are calculated by reference to a tariff of injuries.

It is entirely separate from any other personal accident cover, such as Personal Accident (PAX) or Life Insurance (LI). Any accident cover that you may already hold is not considered when determining an AFCS award.

If you are no longer serving and your disablement was caused or made worse as a result of service in the armed forces before 6 April 2005, you can claim under the War Pension Scheme (WPS).

Who is eligible?

The Scheme covers all regular service personnel, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and members of the reserves for all 3 services. You can claim whether you are still serving or have left HM Armed Forces.

Important information

Free independent advice

You do not need a paid representative such as a solicitor or claims management company to apply for compensation. Free independent advice is available from the Veterans Welfare Service or other charitable organisations.

If you choose paid representation, we cannot meet the cost of this and you will have to pay these costs yourself. Where someone is representing you on a ‘no-win no-fee’ basis this usually means that they will keep a share of your payment to cover their fees. You may wish to check how much of your payment will go to your representative before you agree to paid representation.

Time limits for claims

Claims for injury or illness must be made within 7 years of the earliest of the following dates:

  • the date of the incident leading to the injury or illness
  • the date on which an injury or illness not caused by service was made worse by service
  • in the case of illness, the date of first seeking medical advice for that illness
  • the date of discharge.

While there are time limits, above all you should submit a claim for compensation at a time which is best for you.

There are certain circumstances when a claim will be accepted outside the time limits above such as being prevented from claiming due to ill health or your illness occurs later. Please contact Veterans UK if you would like more advice on this.

How to make a claim

If you served or are serving with United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF)

If you have served or are serving (whether directly or in a support role) with United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) must seek advice from the MOD A Block Disclosure Cell before completing the claim form. If you have served at any time after 1996, you will be subject to the UKSF Confidentiality Contract and must apply for Express Prior Authority in Writing (EPAW) through the Disclosure Cell before submitting a claim where you may be asked to disclose details of your service with UKSF or any units directly supporting them. The Disclosure Cell can be contacted by emailing MAB-J1-Disclosures-ISA-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.

To make a claim

Download and fill in the claim form.

The form comes with notes telling you how to fill it in.

If you cannot download or print the form, phone or email the Veterans UK helpline to ask for a copy.

Medical discharge

If you are medically discharged from HM Armed Forces, your service documents may be referred to Veterans UK. In certain circumstances, we will automatically consider whether you are entitled to an award under the Scheme - you do not have to do anything.

We will only consider any injury, illness or disease identified as the main reason for your medical discharge.

If we have considered a claim for your principal condition(s), we will not review them again automatically. However, you may be able to apply to us for a review of this award once your service has ended.

What happens next

In order to consider your claim, we will collect relevant information from sources both inside and outside the Ministry of Defence. Once we have this information, we decide what other information we need. This could be a report from your GP or Medical Officer, or if you have had recent hospital treatment, a copy of your medical records from the hospital concerned.

If you can provide copies of any supporting documentation such as reports from your Medical Officer, copies of Orders, accident/incident reports, please do so as soon as possible. This may help us deal with your claim quicker.

Sometimes we cannot decide on the up-to-date medical information alone, or you may not have visited your GP for a while. If this is the case, we may arrange a medical examination with an appointed doctor.

You will receive a letter with the reasons for decision.

You cannot be compensated twice for the same injury or illness. We need to know if you have claimed or received any other compensation for the same illness or injury (including under the WPS). If you have an ongoing claim for compensation from any other source for the injury or illness you are claiming for, you must tell us the details as soon as you know the outcome. This is to prevent any overpayment. Should an overpayment occur then it will be recovered.

You must let us know immediately about any changes in your circumstances.

What to do if you disagree with our decision

If you do not agree with our decision, you can ask for it to be reconsidered. This means that someone who was not involved in the original decision will look at your claim again.

You will need to ask for a reconsideration in writing within 12 months of the date of your original decision notification. You can include information which you did not provide at the time of your claim, relating to your condition or to the events surrounding the injury or illness.

We will notify you of the outcome of the reconsideration. If you still feel our decision is wrong you can appeal to an independent tribunal.

What if my injury is not in a settled state?

AFCS awards are designed to be full and final, taking into account the expected development of an injury or illness over your lifetime. If your injury or illness has not reached maximum medical improvement or your treatment is ongoing at the time of our decision, we will make an interim award. This means that you will receive an award that reflects the extent of your injury or illness at that time.

We will review your case at a later date. We will gather up to date medical evidence and decide whether the award is still correct or needs to be changed. In very rare circumstances the award may be reduced.

If this happens you will not have to repay any money.

If you have evidence that your injury or illness has reached a settled state before we are due to review it, you can send us that information and ask us to carry out an early review.

If you have an interim award, we will need to keep in touch with you to finalise your award. If you move please tell us your new address or you may lose money. Contact Veterans UK.

Can I claim an AFCS fast payment?

Fast payment provides the most seriously injured service personnel with the option to claim an upfront AFCS payment without the need to go through the complete AFCS claim process.

This payment is intended to provide some financial reassurance and support as quickly as possible after injury.

The payment (currently £61,800) can be paid early in the person’s treatment and recovery. A fast payment can be made if:

  • you are still serving in HM Armed Forces
  • you have injuries which occurred on or after 9 May 2011 and
  • one or more of these injuries would, upon claiming, give rise to an award between tariff levels 1 to 8.

The time limit for making an application for a fast payment is 6 months beginning with the day on which the injury occurs.

To make a claim for a fast payment, download and fill in the form.

The form comes with notes telling you how to fill it in.

If you cannot download or print the form, phone or email the Veterans UK helpline to ask for a copy.

What to do if your condition worsens

Under certain circumstances, previous decisions to award injury benefit can be revised if there have been further developments since the original decision was made. If you feel that your injury or illness has worsened or caused a further injury to develop, you can ask us to review our decision.

If you need help

If you have any questions, contact Veterans UK.

This guidance provides general information only. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, but it is not a full and authoritative statement of the law. The Scheme rules are the authoritative document and can be found in the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme legislation.

Published 21 February 2020
Last updated 20 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added message update and link

  2. First published.