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25 Veterans

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1 Introduction

2. What financial help can I get?

3. Who can receive a war disablement pension?

4. Who can receive a service pension?

5. Who can claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme?

You can claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme if you suffered an injury or disablement that was caused by an event on or after 6 April 2019 from your service in the armed forces. It is open to all Regulars, Reserves and Gurkhas. You can claim compensation only if the injury or disablement was caused solely or mainly because of your service in the armed forces. If a serviceman or woman has died because of an event that happened on or after 6 April 2019, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme will pay bereavement benefits to their husband, wife or partner, or their dependent children.

If the cause of death, injury or disablement was before this date, you or your dependants may be able to receive a war disablement pension instead. See ‘Who can receive a war disablement pension?’ for details.

If you receive a war disablement pension or compensation for an injury or illness before 6 April 2019, and you claim compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme for another injury or illness caused on or after 6 April 2019, then any new compensation you receive will not affect your pension or compensation claim. 

The Veterans Agency can give you a leaflet which has more information about the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (see ‘Further help’).

What if my injury in service was the fault of the Ministry of Defence?
If you believe that your injury was the fault (or partly the fault) of the Ministry of Defence, you can take legal action against the Ministry for negligence. This is separate from a war disablement pension or a claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, because these compensate for injury, illness or death but not for negligence.

You may also be able to take legal action for negligence if you are a dependant (a child, partner or husband or wife, for example) of a serviceman or woman who has died in such circumstances.

You can take legal action whether or not you have received a war disablement pension or compensation under the Armed Services Compensation Scheme. However, if you have received compensation under these schemes and you then receive money for negligence for the same injury or for a death, this compensation may be reduced.

If you want to make a claim for compensation, you need to give the Ministry of Defence certain information. Before making a claim, you should consider seeking legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in personal injury or medical negligence claims. First of all, you could contact the Royal British Legion, which can give you general advice about claiming compensation. See ‘Further help’ for its contact details.

When you make your claim, you need to tell the Ministry of Defence:

  • the arm of the forces you served in;
  • your service number;
  • when you enlisted in the forces and, if you were discharged, the date of your discharge;
  • details of your injury or medical treatment;
  • details, including the date, of the incident that led to your injury; and
  • why you believe the Ministry of Defence was negligent (that is, why it was the Ministry of Defence’s fault).

Specialist help for disabled veterans and their families
Several organisations help particular groups of veterans. These include:

  • The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA), for veterans who have lost a limb;
  • Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society (Combat Stress), for veterans whose mental health has been affected by service in the armed forces; and
  • St Dunstan’s, for blind veterans and their families.

See ‘Further help’ for how to contact these organisations.

Who can receive a war widow’s or widower’s pension?
If your husband or wife’s death was due to service in the armed forces, you may be able to claim a war widow’s or widower’s pension.

The Veterans Agency may also help with the cost of a funeral of an ex-service man or woman, where the death is due to service, up to a maximum of £1,400. You must claim within three months of the funeral.

If you are a war widow or widower and you remarry or start living with someone as a partner, you will normally lose your war widow’s or widower’s pension. However, you will keep your pension if:

  • your late husband or wife died or left service before 31 March 1973; and
  • you got married or started living with someone as your partner after 6 April 2019.

If you lose the pension, you may be able to start receiving it again if your new marriage ends or if you stop living with a new partner. And if you lose the pension, allowances for your children may continue to be paid.

For more information, contact the Veterans Agency.

Inheritance tax for servicemen or women who die in active service
When someone dies, inheritance tax must normally be paid on their estate (everything they owned), if their estate is worth more than a certain amount. The main exception is if they leave their estate to their husband or wife. However, if a member of the armed forces dies as a result of active service, their estate is exempt from inheritance tax. For more about inheritance tax, see the CLS Direct leaflet ‘Wills and Probate’, or contact the Inland Revenue. See ‘Further help’ for its inheritance tax helpline number.

6. What if I need help finding somewhere to live?

7. What help can I get to find work when I leave the forces?

8. How can I claim my medals from my time in service?

9. How can I get hold of my service record?

10. Passports for veterans

11. Further Help

12. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and the Ministry of Defence. It was written in association with Citizens Advice.

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The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.


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