Veterans UK, the support organisation responsible for administering the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, is failing to making payments to veterans who have successfully appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal in recent weeks.
Specialist military law firm, Hilary Meredith Solicitors, says payment of all new awards has stalled as Veterans UK does not have any caseworkers. As a result, seriously injured veterans are facing financial hardship during the Coronavirus crisis.
“Awards which are legally due and badly needed are not forthcoming,” said Solicitor Natalie Robinson, Head of Hilary Meredith Solicitors’ Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Department.
“We recently won an appeal for a veteran with Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI) in all four limbs. He was awarded a substantial sum plus a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) – a tax free, index linked monthly payment.
“The appeal was successful on 18 March 2020. Our client is unable to work having been medically discharged from the army. He cannot leave the house. He has a wife who works on the front line for the NHS and three young children at home. He has no money. He is struggling to pay his bills. His mental health is deteriorating all the time.
“Veterans UK is not denying the validity of the award. It is simply saying it is unable to make the payment. My client cannot afford to wait for months on end. He is in serious debt and this is driving him to the very brink. It is a complete travesty. It is a shameful way to treat servicemen and women who have bravely served their country and suffered life-changing injuries as a result.”
Natalie Robinson said she also has over 30 Appeals that have been indefinitely postponed by Veterans UK.
“Appeals are not being listed because of COVID-19 but the Tribunal Service is also no longer working, which is not justifiable given the fact that other court departments are still operating.
“The civil courts, through video conferences and telephone hearings, are running competently on a remote basis. Yet, for veterans, the wheels of justice have ground to a halt.”
Natalie provided specialist military legal support to the British Army for 12 years, reaching the rank of Major, before being medically discharged in 2015 after an injury on duty led to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and the partial amputation of her leg. She joined Hilary Meredith Solicitors last year to head up the firm’s AFCS department.
A keen sportswoman, Natalie took part in the very first Invictus Games following her injury, winning a gold medal for her country in Wheelchair Rugby at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
Natalie has first-hand experience of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – which provides compensation to military service personnel injured on or after 6 April 2005 – having successfully pursued her own claim after injury.