Veterans UK, the support organisation responsible for administering the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), remains unaware of pre-lockdown Tribunal decisions and unable to process payments.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors has been in communication with Veterans UK over an urgently needed payment for an army veteran who won his appeal at Tribunal on 18 March 2020, five days before the UK’s 23 March 2020 lockdown.
Having been told by The Tribunal Service that it was no longer operating and to “refrain from sending emails with respect your client/appellants as this will incur unnecessary cost in these difficult times” the firm has now received the following email from Veterans UK:
“We are currently awaiting to receive the decision from the tribunal services for XXXXX. It may be they have sent the decision to us, however, due to COVID-19 our office is currently closed and post is not being received. As our staff are not able to attend the office, we are currently unable to process casework, including requests for new claims, reviews, reassessments and appeals until our staff are able to return. Once we are in receipt of the decision it will be passed onto our policy team for them to decide is we will be challenging the decision or not. Please visit our website at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk to keep up to date with the latest progress regarding Veterans UK’s plan regarding COVID-19. Please accept our sincerest apologies.“
The case relates to a veteran with Non-Freezing Cold Injury in all four limbs. He was awarded a substantial sum plus a Guaranteed Income Payment – a tax free, index linked monthly payment.
Commenting on the case, Hilary Meredith, founder and CEO at Hilary Meredith Solicitors said:
“This case was decided nearly a week before the COVID-19 lockdown even started – and yet Veterans UK has still not received the decision. How much longer is our client expected to wait? The whole situation is a complete and utter shambles. The Army Medical Agency has also closed, meaning that medical records required to progress military pensions cannot be obtained.”
“Our client in this case 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. With no money he is struggling to pay his bills while his mental health is deteriorating all the time. Veterans UK has effectively gone home – and slammed its door in our client’s face at the same time.”