War Pensions Scheme

There are two pension plans that run under the War Pensions Scheme:

The War Disablement Pension

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

The War Widow's or Widower's Pension.

War Disablement Pension and The Armed Forces Compensation Schemes are for those who were injured or disabled as a result of service in HM Armed Forces, and the War Widow's or Widower's Pension is for those people whose spouse or civil partner died during a time of war or as a result of their service in HM Armed Forces. The War Pensions Scheme started in 1918 and continues in respect of injuries that occurred before 5 April 2005. For injuries after 5 April 2005 a new Scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme applies.

War Disablement Pension Scheme

You can claim a War Disablement Pension if you are no longer Serving in HM Armed Forces and you have a disablement, injury, disease or illness that you consider was caused or made worse by service before 6 April 2005. Claims can be made for both, mental and physical conditions. If you think your disablement was caused by service after 6 April 2005, you should claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

There are no time limits for claiming under the War Pension Scheme, however claims can only be considered once your service has ended and payment will usually be made from the date of claim.

You can claim under the War Pensions Scheme if you were:

  • Injured or disabled due to serving in HM Armed Forces, including The Ulster Defence Regiment the Home Guard and nursing and auxiliary services;
  • A civilian disabled as a result of enemy action in the 1939 to 1945 war;
  • A member of the Polish Forces under British Command who served in the Second World War and you were disabled or injured through this service;
  • A merchant seaman, a member of the coastguard or naval auxiliary services, and you suffered disability due to injury or disease due to conditions during wartime or because you were a prisoner-of-war;
  • A Civil Defence Volunteer (CDV) disabled through serving as a CDV.

When you are making the claim, the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency will consult medical advisers to work out your entitlement, which is calculated as a percentage as follows:

  • If this is less than 20%, a lump sum or gratuity will usually be awarded;
  • If this is more than 20%, a pension will normally be granted.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)

AFCS provides compensation for any injury, illness or death, which is caused by service on or after 6 April 2005. All current and former members of the UK Armed Forces, including Reservists, are eligible for this

compensation scheme. It is a no-fault scheme, which means payment is made without admitting fault, and it is entirely separate from any other personal accident cover. Therefore, any accident cover that you may already hold is not taken into account when determining your AFCS award. In the event of service-related death, the Scheme pays benefits to eligible partners and children.

Award Types

There are two main types of AFCS benefits:

  • Guaranteed Income Payments (GIPs)

For those with the most serious illnesses and injuries, AFCS provides an income stream known as the Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP). This is a tax free, index-linked monthly payment, which is paid from the point of discharge for life.

  • Lump Sum Payments

For injury or illness, AFCS provides a tax-free lump sum payment for pain and suffering, the size of

which reflects the severity of the injury or illness. Lump sum payments range from £1,200 to £570,000.

You have seven years to make a claim, however, there are some exceptions to this, such as late-onset illnesses. You can claim for a late-onset illness at any time after the event to which it relates, as long as you do so within three years of seeking medical advice.

Pension Scheme for War Widows and Widowers

With additional criteria, a War Widows or Widowers Pension may be awarded to a person who was living as spouse or living as civil partner. You may be entitled to a tax-free War Widow's or War Widower's Pension if your spouse or civil partner:

  • Died before 6 April 2005 as a result of their service in the HM Armed Forces, or during a time of war;
  • Was a civil defence volunteer or a civilian and their death was a result of the Second World War;
  • Was receiving a War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance at the time of his/her death;
  • Was a merchant seaman, a member of the naval auxiliary services, or a coastguard and their death was a result of an injury or disease they received during war or during a period where they were a prisoner of war;
  • Was getting a War Disablement Pension at the 80% rate or higher and was receiving an Unemployability Supplement;
  • Died as a result of their service as a member of the Polish Forces under British command during the Second World War, or in the Polish Resettlement Forces;
  • Was getting a War Disablement Pension at the 80% rate or higher and was receiving an Unemployability Supplement.

Pension Rates and Allowances

The War Widow's or Widower's Pension may be paid out in one of two rates – higher and lower, and can be made up of several elements depending on individual circumstances.

You will receive the higher rate if you are:

  • Aged 40 or over;
  • Under 40 and receiving an allowance for a child;
  • Under 40 and are unable to support yourself financially;
  • You are the widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an officer above the rank of Major or equivalent.

If none of these circumstances apply to you, you will receive a lower rate until you reach age 40.

If death occurred whilst still in service, War Widows or Widowers Pension is paid from the day after partner’s death.  But if death occurs in retirement, the Pension is paid from the day after death, providing the claim in made within 3 months of that date.

You also can receive additional allowances if:

  • You are aged over 65, increases at age 70, and age 80 (in this case the age allowance applies);
  • Your spouse or civil partner was discharged from HM Armed Forces before 31 March 1973;
  • You have children;
  • You have accommodation costs, but this applies only if you are receiving an allowance for a child with a War Widow's or Widower's Pension.

Changes to Your Circumstances

If you remarry or start to live with a partner, then you have to inform the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. In this case, you will be no longer eligible for a War Widow or Widower's Pension, and the only exception to this rule is if your late partner left service before 31 March 1973, and you remarry or start to live with a partner after 6 April 2005.

If changes to your circumstances have led to you becoming ineligible for a pension, you may request that it be restored again if:

  • You become widowed again.
  • Your new marriage ends in divorce or judicial separation.
  • You stop living with the person as their partner or civil partner.

Your new civil partnership ends in dissolution.