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War Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme claims

In addition to a civil claim, it is also possible to make a claim for an injury, illness or death through service under one of these schemes.

If the incident or injury occurred before 6 April 2005 it will be dealt with under the WPS. Anything arising on or after this date will be dealt with under the AFCS.

There are some differences between the schemes. It is not possible, for example, to bring a claim under the WPS whilst you are still serving, whereas claims can be brought through the AFCS both during and after service. However, in general terms both schemes are quite similar.


What are the schemes and what is their purpose?

The WPS and AFCS schemes compensate serving and ex-military personnel for injuries, illnesses or death caused, or made worse by, service. The WPS applies to any injury caused by, or made worse by, service before 6 April 2005 and the AFCS applies to injuries caused or made worse by service on, or after, 6 April 2005.

They are ‘no fault’ schemes, which means that a claimant doesn’t have to prove that anyone is liable for their injury or illness. This is different to a civil claim for compensation, in which a claimant must prove that the MoD is liable, or ‘at fault’ for their injury.

Personnel from all branches of the forces can claim, including reservists, but anyone who has served with the UK Special Forces must request express prior authority in writing or EPAW prior to applying.


Can you make a War Pension or AFCS claim at the same time as a civil claim?

Yes, you can. However, the law states that you can’t be compensated for the same injury twice, so if you have made a successful claim under either of the schemes, or a successful civil claim, the compensation you have received will be set off against any further compensation you receive.

If I am rejected by one of these schemes, am I still able to bring a civil claim?

Yes, just because your claim under one of the schemes is unsuccessful, it doesn’t mean that you are precluded from bringing a civil claim.

At Hugh James, many of our successful NIHL and NFCI clients have been rejected by the schemes because their injury doesn’t meet the minimum criteria or they have missed the time limits to claim. The criteria that apply to WPS and AFCS claims isn’t the same as in a civil claim, so it is always worth making an enquiry about a civil claim, even if you have been rejected under one of the schemes.

Are there any time limits for making a War Pension or AFCS claim?

Yes and no – it depends which scheme is applicable.

There are no time limits for applying under the WPS, but you must have been discharged from service before making the application.

Under the AFCS, the time limit is 7 years but you can claim while you are still serving. The 7 years starts running from the earliest of the following dates:

  • the date of the incident leading to the injury or illness;
  • the date on which an injury or illness not caused by service was made worse by service;
  • in the case of illness, the date of first seeking medical advice for that illness; or
  • the date of discharge.

If a claimant is unhappy with the decision from Veterans UK, it may be possible to make an appeal. Appeals must be requested within 1 year of the original decision from Veterans UK.

There are certain circumstances when an AFCS claim may be accepted outside the time limits, such as when a claimant is prevented from claiming due to ill health, or where the illness doesn’t present until later. However, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible if a claimant is unsure about any time limits that apply.

How can Hugh James help?

At Hugh James we can assist with applications and appeals, and we may also be able to represent claimants at tribunals.

You do not need to instruct a solicitor to make a War Pension or AFCS claim. Claimants are able to submit their own claim for free, or in some cases seek assistance from a charity organisation. However, many claimants still chose to instruct us to represent them due to the complexity of the schemes and our experience in representing veterans and serving personnel.

Author bio

Simon Ellis


Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

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