Disabled in the Armed Forces

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

A guide to disability and ill health through service in the armed forces. The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) and other help and advice.

You may be able to claim a War Disablement Pension if you have ill health or been disabled through injury or mental trauma due to service in the armed forces or you are a civilian or merchant seaman disabled due to war-time injuries.

The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA)

This agency is part of the Ministry of Defence and provides a range of ‘through life’ support function to around 900,000 serving ex-Service personnel. These include the delivery of HR, pay and pension schemes to the Armed Forces, compensation payments for those injured or bereaved though Service, provision of MOD medals and one to one help and support for veterans.

Veterans UK helpline

Veterans UK
Ministry of Defence
Thornton Cleveleys

Email veterans-uk@mod.uk

Freephone (UK only):0808 1914 2 18

Telephone (overseas):+44 1253 866 043


Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk

Veterans-UK is the name used for the veterans advice services provided by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. It’s the first stop for veterans who need help and support.

Who is a veteran?

A veteran is anyone who has served in HM Armed Forces, regular or reserve including National Servicemen. Veteran’s status also applies to former Polish forces under British command in WWII and Merchant Mariners who have seen duty in military operations. Veterans can be any age from 18 to 100 plus. Veterans need not have served overseas or in conflict. All are entitled to our services.

War Disablement Pension

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

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

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. The War Pension Scheme (WPS) compensates for any injury, illness or death which occurs up to this date. The AFCS is a no-fault Scheme which means payment is made without admitting fault. It is entirely separate from any other personal accident cover, such as PAX or SLI. Therefore, any accident cover that you may already hold is not taken into account when determining an AFCS award.

All current and former members of the UK Armed Forces, including Reservists, may submit a claim for compensation. Unlike the War Pension Scheme, you can submit an AFCS claim while still serving, as well as after you have left the Armed Forces. While there are time limits, above all you should submit a claim for compensation at a time which is best for you. In the event of service-related death, the Scheme pays benefits to eligible partners and children. An ‘eligible partner’ is someone with whom you are cohabiting in an exclusive and substantial relationship, with financial and wider dependence.

Veterans Welfare Service

The Veterans Welfare Service (VWS) is committed to enhancing the quality of life for Veterans and beneficiaries of SPVA pensions and compensation schemes, and all their dependants. It also focuses upon providing support that will enable the seamless transition from Service to Civilian life, assist bereaved families or respond to key life events that present welfare needs.
It achieves this by adopting a single central coordinating role that facilitates access to all appropriate services.

The VWS provides a caseworker approach that offers professional help and guidance through either telephone contact or a dedicated visiting service, Under Veterans UK the VWS works in collaborative partnerships with the tri-Services, ex-Service charities, statutory and non-statutory bodies, local community service providers and Veterans Advisory & Pensions Committee’s to deliver a quality welfare service that promotes independence, maintains dignity and provides continuous support through life.

How to Contact the Welfare Service

It also provides support to enable the seamless transition from service to civilian life, assist bereaved families or respond to life events that present welfare needs. It achieves this by facilitating access to all appropriate services.

VWS caseworkers offer one to one professional help and guidance by telephone, or if needed, during a home visit.

Under Veterans UK, the VWS works in partnerships with the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, ex-service charities, statutory and non-statutory bodies, local community service providers and the Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees to deliver a quality welfare service that promotes independence, maintains dignity and provides continuous support through life.


The VWS has 4 Veterans Welfare Centres, providing advice and support across the UK.

Centurion (London, SE and SW England)
Tel 02392 702232

Email: veterans-uk-vws-south@mod.uk

Kidderminster (South and Central Wales, Midlands and East England)
Tel 01562 825527

Email: veterans-uk-vws-wales-mid@mod.uk

Norcross VWC (NW England, Yorkshire and Humber, North Wales and IOM)
Tel 01253 333494

Email: veterans-uk-vws-north@mod.uk

Glasgow (Scotland, NE England, NI and ROI)
Tel 0141 2242709

Email: veterans-uk-vws-scot-ni@mod.uk

If you are supporting a veteran and need further advice, the VWS may be able to help. To locate your nearest centre, call Veterans UK helpline on 0808 1914 2 18.

NHS treatment

If you need an examination or treatment relating to the condition for which you receive a war pension, you are entitled to be given priority for NHS services, subject only to the needs of emergency and other urgent cases. Make sure your GP or any hospital specialist you see is aware that you are a war pensioner.

Should you experience any difficulty arranging treatment, tell the War Pensions treatment Section . In certain circumstances, your doctor may be able to arrange for you to be admitted to a Ministry of Defence services hospital for the treatment of the disability for which you receive your war pension. If so, you will be eligible for help with travelling costs. Again, tell the people at the War Pensions Treatment Section. Contact details as above.

Equipment for mobility

If you need equipment as a result of the disability for which you receive a war pension, you will be able to get advice from the The SPVA Veterans Welfare Service (see above). Equipment such as wheelchairs, artificial limbs, or home nursing equipment can be obtained from the NHS. The organisations and charities below may also be able to assist in providing or funding equipment for your special needs.

Voluntary Organisations and Charities – There are many service organisations which help war disabled people and their families. They can give you support and advice on War Pensions and Allowances:

Forces Online is classified as a Not for Profit set up to work with veterans across the whole of the United Kingdom. To provide a professional secure website, listing all the Armed Forces Community support Organisations in the United Kingdom, and work to alongside them to promote their services to ensure there is a quality choice based system for veterans, focussing on identifying the type of service, and nearest location of the service/support system which are broken down into a unique Forces Online county based structure.

Website: https://forcesonline.org.uk/

The Royal British Legion is the nation’s leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the Armed Forces past and present and their families. They can provide advice on disability claims, loans for home improvements, run residential care homes, offer holiday breaks for carers and much more.
Tel: 0808 802 8080
Website: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk.
The Royal British Legion Scotland is the largest Ex-Service Charity in Scotland with Branches and clubs throughout Scotland. It is, in close partnership with other Scottish Charities, responsible for providing Assistance (Welfare and Pension Advice). Benevolence and Comradeship.

Logie Green Road
Tel:: 0131 557 2782
Fax:: 0131 557 5819

BLESMA ( British Limbless Ex-Servicemens Association) assists men and women who have lost their limbs through service in the armed forces or as a result of it. BLESMA provides permanent residential accommodation, gives advice on pensions and allowances, provides financial assistance to members and widows, runs a welfare visiting service, plans and organises rehabilitation programmes for amputees an helps in finding suitable employment. Tel: 0208 590 1124
Website: https://www.blesma.org

The Burma Star Association provides a welfare service and gives free and confidential advice to all holders of the Burma Star. Tel: 0207 823 4273.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health.
They look after men and women who are suffering from a psychological condition related to their Service career.
This might be depression, anxiety, a phobia or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Their services are free
of charge to the Veteran.
Website: https://www.combatstress.com

The Royal Air Forces Association gives advice and financial assistance to serving or ex-serving RAF personnel and their dependents through a network of branches. Each branch has an honorary welfare officer who will assess requests for help and complete the appropriate forms for assistance. The Association also runs a nursing home and three convalescent home together with supportive and sheltered housing schemes.
Tel: 020 8994 8504.
Website: https://www.rafa.org.uk

The Royal Alfred Seafarer’s Society provides accommodation for ex-members of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy at three separate establishments in Surrey and Sussex, offering, respectively, sheltered housing, residential and nursing care.

Tel: 020 8401 2889

Website: https://www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk/

Blind Veterans UK (St Dunstan’s sicnce 1915): – Established in 1915, St Dunstan’s provide essential training and rehabilitation for ex-Service men and women who are now blinded due to war, age, accident or illness.
T: 020 7723 5021

F: 020 7262 6199

Website: www.blindveterans.org.uk/

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA Forces Help) offers welfare help, advice and support to serving and ex-serving members of the armed forces, including partners, widows/widowers and dependent children. They also help obtain equipment and aids and provide specially designed permanent and holiday accommodation for disabled people, and residential care homes. Local branches nationwide and in Eire can raise grant aid through service charities and other sources. Contact local Branch (see local phone book) or the Welfare Department at Central Office.
Tel: 020 7403 8783.

Forces Reunited have joined with ComradesandColleagues.com:
The largest dedicated database of Forces and Ex-Forces Personnel on the web, also run by Ex-Forces Personnel
MoD reunited:

Provides a link of friendship between the serving and the retired, the young and old.