The AFCS holds a unique status as compensation schemes go. Parties are awarded compensation through a no-fault scheme and it is entirely separate from any other form of accident cover, so any cover you might already hold no bearing on the compensation you may or may not receive from the AFCS. This article will take a look at how the scheme works, who it provides for, how much you can get and how you go about applying for it.
The AFCS: what is it?
The AFCS provides compensation for any injury, illness or death endured during military service on or after 6th April 2005. All current and former members of the UK Armed Forces are eligible for compensation and you can submit an AFCS claim whilst serving, as well as after serving. In the case of death, the scheme pays fatal accident compensation to an ‘eligible partner’ or children. An individual can claim for any injury which occurs during service from the relatively minor to the far more serious conditions. Mental health conditions qualify. Service includes training, physical exercise and organised sport.
Depending on the nature of the injury a serviceman or servicewoman can get between £1,200 to £570,000. There are 15 levels within a tariff system with level 1 being the highest payment for the most severe injuries. A level 15 case may include something like minor burns.
Loss of earning capacity
If you’ve lost your ability to earn as a result of the injury then you can receive your benefit as GIP, which is a Guaranteed Income Payment. Rather than a Lump Sum Payment, the GIP is a tax-free, index-linked monthly payment which you will receive for the rest of your life. The amount you receive will take into account things like whether you’re likely to be able to earn later on in life.
How do I go about it?
Unlike other forms of compensation an armed forces injury claim doesn’t have to involve an outside solicitor or lawyer (although if you feel unsure it might be good to get advice from a professional, or if your claim is rebuffed you might want to contact an outside solicitor as well as the SPVA). To make a claim you need to submit a form to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA). SPVA staff and voluntary organisations can help you fill out the form if you need. There’s also a free helpline.
If you’re not awarded compensation and you disagree with the decision then there are various avenues you can take. You can request a reconsideration within 12 months of receiving news of the decision and you can appeal via an independent tribunal. It is in the instance of an appeal that you would gain significant benefit from seeking professional legal advice.