Awards and Tariffs


How do awards work in AFCS?

Give me money because I'm a 'veteran' and I'm sad. 

Let’s talk about cash. We're finally at the reason we're all here. Moochers after an easy life at the expense of the State. 

Or so Veterans UK can make you feel.

A 2015 survey of 15,000 people by University College London said British people were 7 times more likely to talk about their numbers of sexual partners, affairs & their STDs than talk about their income (BBC News link.)

I’m mortified every day, not by taking pills, not for ha… havi… having...  being diagnosed with PTSD, but by the fact I’m chasing money from the State for my illness. Not just a bit of money, a lot of money.

I have a couple of reasons for breaking this very British taboo and not only talking about it, but kinda making a whole website about it.

I don’t want to seem disingenuous. I've spoken on Instagram for a while now about mental illness and have been really touched by the amazing support I get. But my public expressions about the illness and the healing have to go hand in hand with my claim for the money.

When I did inquest work as a lawyer, solicitors and barristers representing the family of the deceased would often say to the Coroner, with Bafta-worthy heartfelt gravitas: 

Mr or Mrs X just don’t want this to happen to anyone else, hence their questions for the Hospital Trust.” 

This meant: 

Mr or Mrs X really don’t want this to happen to anyone else, but I'm here representing them on a no win, no fee agreement to ask the relevant questions of the Trust to put us in a position after the inquest to sue the hospital for negligence.'

Of course the families didn't want medical errors to cause the death of anyone else, and they wanted the hospitals to learn lessons from the untimely loss of their loved ones. But when the law can’t turn the clock back and right a wrong, it quantifies the loss financially.

Parallel with AFCS

Through my posts on Instagram about mental health and Veterans UK I have essentially been doing the same thing as these lawyers speaking to the Coroner.

  • Look at me having therapy;
  • Look at me taking meds;
  • Look at how mean & nasty Veterans UK are.

What I haven’t said is: 

  • ‘Look at me chasing a large payout.’

Categories of injury

The AFCS grades injuries in 9 sections, each with a table in the Order categorising the seriousness of different injuries within that section. The sections are as follows:

  1. Burns; 
  2. Injury, Wounds and Scarring; 
  3. Mental Disorders; 
  4. Physical disorders – illnesses and infectious diseases;
  5. Amputations;
  6. Neurological disorders, including spinal, head or brain injuries; 
  7. Senses;
  8. Fractures and dislocations;
  9. Musculoskeletal disorders.

Categories are given a scale of seriousness from 1 - 15 (the lower the number, the more serious the injury) relating to an amount of compensation in a lump sum from £1,236 - £650,000, known as a tariff. 

The more serious levels also get an annual payment as a percentage of your salary when you left the military. It is known as a Guaranteed Income Payment or GIP. The percentage of salary in a GIP will be either 30, 50, 75 or 100%, depending on the seriousness of the injury. If you're still serving but have been seriously injured enough to be awarded a GIP, it's very likely you're being medically discharged. 

My award as an example

My shrink said my PTSD fitted the category in Table 3 that says: ‘permanent mental disorder, causing moderate functional limitation or restriction.’ That’s level 8, which is a £61,800 lump sum + 50% of my salary when I left the service, so I’d get £22,000 a year, having left as a Flight Lieutenant in 2011.

All right for some, yeah?

Once Veterans UK had found my lost paperwork, they graciously said my diagnosed PTSD was ‘partly’ caused by service (#hilarious ). Having done their assessment on paper and decided the shrinks who assessed me in person were being led on by my 'self-reporting,' they decided I fitted level 12. This awards £10,300 and no GIP.

Now, ten grand is not to be sniffed at, even after the £3,090 legal fees. Had my shrink not opined about my being in level 8, I’d have probably said to myself “well, that wasn’t worth a year’s severe stress, and it’s a lot less than a medical discharge pension, but it’s a lot more than some people get, so stop whining you privileged middle class [rhymes with cat]”

But because the shrink did suggest, in their intelligent, qualified and experienced opinion following an in person assessment, that level 8 was appropriate, I decided to appeal. Details of what's involved with appealing are on another page of the site.


Table 10 of Part I to Schedule 3 of  The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011

The table above is Table 10 in the 2011 Order. It details the amount of the lump sums that correspond to each level of injury in each category, from 1 to 15, with the lower numbers associated with the more serious injuries.

By way of an example, here is an injury within each category that is classified as Level 8 in Table 10. These injuries would therefore get a lump sum award of £61,800 and a 50% GIP. Some categories, such as 'Injury, Wounds and Scarring,' can have more than one injury 'descriptor' that fits Level 8. 'Descriptor' is the term used in the Order for the description of an injury and its effects.

Level 8 injuries (not all of them):

  • Burns: Burns, with partial, deep or full thickness burns affecting 9 to 14.9% of whole body surface area.
  • Injury, Wounds and Scarring: Injury covering all or most of the area from thigh to ankle or shoulder to wrist, causing permanent significant functional limitation or restriction.
  • Mental disorder: Permanent mental disorder, causing moderate functional limitation or restriction. (Functional limitation or restriction is moderate where the claimant is unable to undertake work appropriate to experience, qualifications and skills at the time of onset of the illness but able to work regularly in a less demanding job.)
  • Physical disorders – illnesses and infectious diseases: Physical disorder causing permanent severe functional limitation or restriction.
  • Amputations: Loss of one foot at ankle distal to the calcaneum.
  • Neurological disorders, including spinal, head or brain injuries: Mild brachial plexus injury with substantial recovery of arm and hand
    function resulting in good restoration of manual dexterity.
  • Senses: Loss of one eye or total blindness in one eye.
  • Fractures and dislocations (you can't actually get higher than Level 9 in this category, which includes): Fracture of one femur, tibia, humerus, radius or ulna, with complications, causing permanent significant functional limitation or restriction.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (you also can't get higher than Level 9 in this category, which includes): Permanent severely impaired grip in both hands.

An example

Student Officer Jones.

  • Student Officer Jones has gone to Otterburn with staff from RAF College Cranwell to test her mettle as a leader. Unfortunately, on the second day of the exercise, Student Officer Jones trips over a rock while she was running in her kit, and her foot drops down a mole hole. Her foot stays in the hole while her momentum takes her forward, and SO Jones suffers a protruding spiral fracture of her lower leg. The Flight Commander applies a tubigrip, a first field dressing and some quickclot, but to no avail, and Student Officer Jones is hospitalised for some time. She requires surgery on her leg, but after six months of intensive physiotherapy, and the grit and determination of a future RAF officer, she makes a substantial recovery.
  • Student Officer Jones has used some of her time while recuperating from her injury to help a Forces charity, and heard about the AFCS while working for them. She completes an application for her injured leg. A Veterans UK decision maker obtains Student Officer Jones’s medical file and military file, which are reviewed by a Veterans UK medical adviser (MA). The MA confirms the injury was partially caused by Student Officer Jones’s service, as she was injured on a training exercise. (The MA does not explain what part of the injury was not caused by service, presumably the fact the hole SO Jones stood in was dug by a civilian mole.) The medical records, including the notes, the surgeon’s letter, and the physiotherapists’ letters lead the MA to conclude that Student Officer Jones suffered a complex injury covering all or most of the area from knee to ankle, which has caused significant functional limitation or restriction at 26 weeks, with substantial recovery beyond that date.
  • This puts Student Officer Jones’s injury at Item 37 of Table 2 - Injury, Wounds and Scarring, in Schedule 3 of the AFCS Order. Item 37 gives a compensation level of 12. Level 12 on Table 10 of the Order gives a lump sum of £10,300 and does not include a GIP.
  • Student Officer Jones was doing well with physiotherapy, but still needed a lot of painkillers to move relatively freely. She was far from as quick or nimble as she had been before. She tried to restart Initial Officer Training a couple of times, but could not keep up with the physical demands when on the course's exercises. She was unofficially advised that it would look better for her applying for civvy jobs if she withdrew from IOT, rather than get biffed off the course.
  • After leaving the RAF, civvy Jones was still a tough cookie, and she continued to push herself physically in civvy street, taking part in triathlons. She used lots of tape and strapping and a lot of pain killers, both when she competed and in everyday life, as she tried to stay mobile by walking or cycling to work. She accepted her injuries and didn’t like to moan.
  • At a follow up appointment with her civvy doctor, the doc noticed Jones’s limp and found weakness in the injured bones on her scans, and identified some nerve damage.
  • Civvy Jones remembered she only had 12 months to ask for a reconsideration of her AFCS claim. She asked her civvy doctor’s opinions on where her injuries fitted on Table 2 of the Order, and they said she fitted a “complex injury covering all or most of the area from knee to ankle, causing permanent significant functional limitation or restriction.” This would put her at a Level 8 award, with a lump sum of £61,800, and a GIP of 50% of her RAF salary when she left.
  • She filled in the AFCS papers including the written comments from the civvy doctors, and sent them off to Veterans UK.
  • Veterans UK replied five months later, saying that their original decision was still correct. They said that civvy Jones was clearly able to work and do exercise because she was competing in triathlons and running and cycling to work. They dismissed the civvy doctor’s comments as too brief, and stated that Veterans UK MAs were trained in medical law. They also said that civvy Jones had left the RAF out of choice and had not been medically discharged.
  • Dismayed and suspicious, civvy Jones speaks to a solicitor about appealing Veterans UK’s reconsideration and original decision.
  • In her appeal, the tribunal agrees with her civvy doctors and awards her Level 8 of the AFCS compensation.
  • As she’s already had £10,300 from her initial award, she gets £51,500 as a lump sum. She also get £37,500 in back pay of GIP. Her total is therefore £89,000. She will continue to receive her GIP thereafter.
  • Please see the page on Costs for detail on how the lawyers are paid from compensation after an award. Briefly, in the context of the example of SO Jones, her legal fees are 25% of her award (assuming there are no barrister’s fees or medical expert fees) so the lawyers get £22,250 + VAT = £26,700, and civvy Jones therefore gets an award after costs of £62,300. She will also get her annual GIP of £7,500 for the rest of her life, which is not reduced by legal fees.
  • This award, even after legal fees, is still £62,300, plus the annual GIP, more than she would have got if she had not appealed, or if she had appealed and she had not been able to persuade the tribunal. She may have been successful on her own, or with a rep from a charity. But these types of proceedings, be they court cases, mediations or tribunals, are stressful, draining, drawn out experiences. I tried to do my own reconsideration myself, thinking I’d learnt enough about AFCS and could manage it, but it nearly broke me.

Comparison with a civil claim for negligence

It's not an exact comparison due to a number of factors, but I think it's worth a brief look at the amounts involved in a civil negligence claim. 

You can still bring a civil claim against the MoD if your injury was caused by negligence. If successful, your legal costs would be paid (see the page on Legal Costs) and you can still make an AFCS claim. You can't, however, keep a full AFCS award and full civil award as you can't be compensated for the same injury twice. 

The big advantage of AFCS is that you don't have to prove fault or negligence. As long as your injury was caused or predominantly caused by your service, then you're eligible for an award.

Civil awards for negligence will usually be higher than an AFCS award, which is fair enough given the element of fault. I include a comparison of amounts between the two in order to help reduce any potential worry that it might feel you're taking too much from the AFCS. If I am awarded Level 8 at tribunal, I will feel guilty receiving an award of over £60 grand for what lots of people, including the little Veterans UK voice in my head, would say is merely LMF.

The following figures are not exact, as civil claims can vary a lot depending on individual circumstances, but they will give you an idea.

Using loss of a foot by amputation as our example, if you put the details into a damages calculator it suggests you would expect to receive between £71,640 and £93,540 in what is called General Damages. By comparison, £61,800 for a Level 8 injury under the AFCS, which is no-fault, is comparable. The issue comes if you have to get a lawyer in order to get that £61,800. In a civil claim, if you've succeeded with your claim then the defendant pays (most of) your legal costs. This defendant could be the NHS on behalf of a Hospital Trust if it was clinical negligence, an employer if it was an industrial accident, or an insurer if it was a car accident. I'll go into legal costs on another page.

Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) and Special Damages

Another potential difference between a civil claim and AFCS is the longer term payments. 

Imagine you're a Sergeant in the Royal Marines, the Parachute Regiment, or the RAF Regiment. You have expressed a long term goal of becoming a Warrant Officer, and potentially commissioning to try and reach Colonel / Wing Commander. Your reports have suggested this is not only an admirable aspiration but that it is eminently possible. One day, however, General Melchett is late out of the 19th hole after a few glasses of Pimms, and has commandeered a 4 Tonner to get to the Officers' Mess "before that fucking Crab, Lord Flashheart, chats up the stewards and takes the best veal cutlet". He's not looking as he speeds across camp, and as you're crossing the road, despite an attempt to dive out of the way, he crushes your foot.

In reality there would be a lot of complicating factors such as drink driving, it being a military vehicle, on MoD land etc, but we'll imagine it's just an insurance claim due to an injury 100% caused by the driver of the wagon.  

If you had to have your foot amputated due to the injury, not only would you be compensated by the General Damages detailed above, which are purely to do with the physical injury, you would also receive Special Damages. These include all sorts of things, but the majority in a significant injury like this is loss of earnings. I'm assuming for the purposes of this exercise that you wouldn't be able to soldier again although there may now be prosthetics that would allow it. For this example, your aspirations for promotion and commissioning within your regiment (commando?) are scotched.

Again, it is more complicated than this and involves a lot of calculations, but oversimplifying it, Special Damages take into account your loss of earnings and likely future earnings and pension. That's going to be a lot more in this case than the AFCS Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP). If our Sergeant, Sgt Smith, is earning about £40,000 a year, The GIP at Level 8 would give them £20,000 a year for the rest of their life. In a civil claim, if a judge agrees you would have progressed to Colonel, you would be compensated for your loss of earnings at pension based on the expected progression of your career as a soldier.

This site is predominantly about mental injury and AFCS

In my humble opinion Veterans UK Medical Advisers do not understand mental illness. Instead of accepting that, they've doubled down, arrogantly assuming their demonstrably limited knowledge of medico-legal principles, psychology and psychiatry is pre-eminent. 

The responses I've had about my own mental injury claim, which are apparently similar to those received by others, feel a lot like if Sgt Smith's story had not involved General Melchett, but instead their foot injury and amputation was due to shrapnel, and continued thus:

He or she had a prosthetic foot made and fitted. They worked incredibly hard, suffered pain and frustration getting used to it, building their strength back up, learning to walk and run again. They returned to work in uniform, clerking for a while just to be back close to their Commando / Company / Squadron. After 6 months they'd had enough of being blunt and left the military to become a management consultant. Another 18 months on and civvy business was doing their head in, so they followed their heart and did what they always wanted to do and became a sculptor. They also banged in their AFCS claim. 

The decision comes back from the Veterans UK Medical Adviser that a Level 12 award is appropriate, with the commentary concluding thus:

  • "I am unable to find that the documented evidence, including Smith's assessing orthopaedic surgeon's brief reasons and Smith's own description of their successful employment both in, and post RM / British Army / RAF service, meets the criteria for a higher award. Full and final awards for disorders in the scheme make no reference to ongoing need to manage symptoms. That is common with a range of chronic disorders and injuries. The focus on medical treatment and compensation awards is restoration of functional capacity, particularly in respect of civilian employment. The evidence is that Smith more than meets that at this date, but for personal reasons has opted to leave paid work and to work on some art. For that reason, I am unable to agree that any higher award is appropriate."

I know this is what Veterans UK Medical Advisers think of mental health claims, because this is what they said to me, tweaked only slightly to apply to Sgt Smith's fictional injury.

Veterans UK have declared that management of symptoms is inconsequential, that the only criterium for an award is whether you can work in civvy street, and if you leave regular work because you can't cope with it, but you do something less strenuous that's possibly enjoyable too, that's your choice, not because of your disorder. 

Medical Adviser's internal monologue:

  • This lazy bastard Smith can walk and even run on their prosthetic. Taking painkillers is inconsequential, I have to do that if I have a hangover or if I get a paper cut rummaging through the hundred pound notes in my wallet for a fiver for the valet. Thinks he can mooch off the state while making pots? Life's not that easy sunshine, no free lunches. Unless you're a medical adviser for the MoD. Fucking squaddies.

Or something like that.