Update on the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) by Simon Quinn

I understand that recent statistics received by the MoD in relation to Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) claims from an anonymised sample group of cases identified:

(i) Approx. 34 out of 36 appeals were successful with several achieving at least a £10K award;

(ii) Many successful Appeals/reconsiderations (which appear to have a high % success rate) were in relation to PTSD claims which can often achieve a GIP and/or AFIP award(s) for life also.

Issues with the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme may include (but not be limited to) that:

(i) There may be a breakdown in communication between Veterans UK who administer the Scheme (under the MoD’s umbrella) and the MoD themselves regarding the number of claims which are subsequently successful at Appeal;|

(ii) There is no sanction for either an incorrect Veterans UK decision or Article 59 mistake. A recent Freedom of Information request looked into the number of Article 59 applications made to Veteran UK (VUK). It showed 337 applications were made between 1 August 2018 and 31 March 2020, a period of just 19 months. Out of those 337 applications, 229 were upheld in favour of the applicant. In other words, 229 mistakes were made in that short period alone, which raises the question of how many more were made but not challenged (source Irwin Mitchell Solicitors);

(iii) Unrealistic timetable(s) – in particular with Mental health which appears to be an area with significant issues. For example if a soldier is diagnosed with PTSD and is proactive enough to immediately submit a claim he/she could receive a Level 14 award (suffering 6-26 weeks). He/she then only has a year from the date of the decision to submit a request for a reconsideration. At that point the longest time he/she is likely to be suffering would be around 18 months so he/she may get an uplift to a Level 13 award (26 weeks to 2 years). If still suffering he/she again only has a year from the new decision date to appeal. At that time he/she is likely to get a level 12 award (2-5 years). By this point he/she is unlikely to have completed all forms of treatment to the point that any further treatment is merely to manage his/her symptoms and have a Consultant Psychiatrist confirming permanence of his/her PTSD. The issue here lies that he/she has exhausted all rights to appeal so may never hit the higher tariffs even if his/her PTSD is enduring and would further down the line be considered permanent. In theory VUK suggest that a Veteran or serving person could request an Exceptional review but to do so there may have to be an unexpected worsening within the last 12 months, which in the majority of cases is not correct; it is merely a continuation of their existing symptoms so they may not be eligible for this and therefore are likely stuck with a Level 12 award due to the flaw in the system on claiming (source Hilary Meredith Solicitors Limited).

Finally, as the Courts and Tribunals court(s) are currently trying to clear any backlogs including due to COVID it appears that they are reluctant to allow many adjournment requests by injured service personnel/veterans/their lawyers which may mean many veterans and personnel proceed to an Appeal without appropriate representation and/or advice as many charities and firms of Solicitors do not have capacity to take on AFCS cases at such short notice before any Appeal.

It appears that further training may be required/changes needed at Veterans UK (whose website/Gov.uk website in approx. March 2020 noted in relation to AFCS claims ‘no courts or legal help needed’) and/or to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to ensure that injured service personnel and veterans receive the correct level of compensation at the first/earliest opportunity without the need for any delay(s) by proceeding to any Appeal hearing.

For any enquiries regarding potential Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) claims then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist AFCS Team on 01625 53 99 22 or enq@hmsolicitors.co.uk

Simon Quinn