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Coronavirus: Changes to Veterans UK Services

Due to COVID-19 precautions, all Veterans UK services are operating via remote working and this has meant they have had to change several of their services.

The following statement from Veterans UK was updated on 14 May 2020 and includes an update to WPS and AFCS section and the Appeal tribunal hearings

'Please be reassured that all Armed Forces Pensions, War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme regular payments will continue to be made as usual into your nominated account. We are also maintaining urgent welfare support for veterans.'

Changes to services are as follows:

Veterans UK Helpline

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer a telephone service from the Veterans UK helpline and we apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. Urgent enquiries, including requests for welfare support and for anyone experiencing payment problems, can be sent via email to Veterans-UK@mod.gov.uk. A reply or call back will be provided as quickly as we can but please be aware our reply times may be longer. Urgent emotional support is still available from the Samaritans by calling our helpline 0808 1914 2 18 and pressing option 1.

Re-joining the British Army

Veterans seeking information about re-joining the army during this period can find details on the Regular Army Rejoiner page. Those who left within 1 year are eligible to be fast-tracked and can be serving in the regular army within 4 weeks.

Veterans Welfare Service Support, Defence Transition Services and Integrated Personal Commissioning For Veterans

To protect our staff and veterans, we have decided to suspend, except in the most exceptional circumstances, all face to face meetings with clients. However, advice, information and support is still available via email and telephone call back. Please email Veterans-UK@mod.gov.uk with your name, national insurance or reference number and contact details and we will be in touch as quickly as we can. See also “Guidance for Service Personnel with imminent discharge dates” below.

War Pension Scheme and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)

Please be reassured that all War Pension, War Widows Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments will continue to be made as usual into your nominated account.

In March, we had to pause casework, including new claims and appeals against previous claim decisions, because such work cannot be delivered remotely. In line with recent Government advice, we are now gradually re-commencing some office-based processing but maintaining social distancing approaches means this can only be on a very limited basis. Staff are working hard to identify and prioritise the most urgent cases but there will continue to be delays to claims processing because of the ongoing restrictions to office working. We remain unable to provide an estimate of how long claims and appeals will take to process but wish to reassure those affected that we are doing all we can to move cases forward as soon as possible.

We continue to ensure that no-one will fall out of payment during this time. If you experience a problem with your payments or have an urgent question, please email Veterans-UK@mod.gov.uk and we will reply as quickly as possible or call you back.

War Pension Scheme: Mesothelioma

To protect our staff and veterans, we have decided to suspend, except in the most exceptional circumstances, all face to face meetings with clients. However, advice, information and support is still available via email and telephone call back, this includes for mesothelioma patients.

Every effort will be made to ensure that procedures are followed to ensure that timely informed choice discussions about lump sum payments are held with those who have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, where an intention to claim is made. Please be aware that the Veterans Welfare Service is not currently able to take telephone enquiries so the best way to make referrals is via email to veterans-uk@mod.gov.uk

Medical Examinations: War Pensions and AFCS

With effect from 17 March, all planned medical examinations in relation to compensation scheme claims will be cancelled for a period of up to 3 months. All veterans with dates for medical examinations during this period will be contacted direct by the DWP’s Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) to confirm cancellation. There is no need to contact the Veterans UK helpline.

Appeal Tribunal Hearings

Appeal Tribunal hearings are administered by the Court Service, part of the Ministry of Justice. We have been advised that some Tribunal hearings will start to take place from 26 May using new procedures to minimise risk. Those with appeals awaiting hearing will be contacted direct by the Court Service or their representative to discuss how their appeal can progress. Please also see the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary response to COVID-19.

Armed Forces Pensions

Please be reassured that all Armed Forces Pensions payments will continue to be made as usual into your nominated account.

Pension enquiries can still be answered by calling the JPA Enquiry Centre on 0800 085 3600 during the hours of 10am to 4pm.

We are also prioritising work to commence new pension payments due to those leaving the Armed Forces, Death In Service entitlements and Widows and Dependents pensions. Processing of Early Payment of Preserved Pension applications is being maintained although our timescales may be longer. Applications from individuals who are terminally ill are being prioritised.

Ill heath forecasts are continuing to be issued for members who are being medically discharged. Pension forecast requests are being issued, however, processing may take longer. If you’re currently serving in the armed forces you may wish to use the on line pension calculator to forecast your pension.

Pensions on Divorce and Pension Transfer administration work is being maintained. Children’s pensions that are due for review (on reaching age 17 and 18) between now and the end of August 2020 will continue in payment until September 2020.

Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures casework has been suspended. We are continuing to review our processes and priorities and updates will be posted at the Veterans UK page as they become available.

Guidance for service personnel with imminent discharge dates:

We appreciate that the Covid-19 measures put in place by the government are of a particular concern for those with imminent discharge dates and those in their resettlement and transition phase. The Ministry of Defence and the single services are working hard on temporary emergency policies to address the myriad of issues which the current situation has imposed on us all at this unprecedented time. Once these are published you will be informed through a variety of means (initially your chain of command).

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), who manage the defence estate, are working on temporary policies concerning move out of Service Family Accommodation (SFA).

The MOD and the Career Transition Partnership have published advice on resettlement activities. Please read the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) response to COVID-19(PDF,86.6KB, 2 pages) for MOD guidance and link to an FAQ on resettlement.

Service personnel should get in touch initially with their chain of command through their unit, as that is how the information will be disseminated initially and it will require chain of command involvement for any measures which may affect retention or discharge.

Ongoing support remains in place through the Career Transition Partnership for employment support /resettlement related activities. Please read the Career Transition Partnership FAQsand for those who are receiving wider transition support through Defence Transition Services(DTS).

Please see the Veterans UK Helpline information above to request welfare support.

Medals

Regrettably all enquiries and applications to the MOD Medal Office will be unanswered until full operational services can resume. If you are wanting to apply to obtain either a medal entitlement or a physical medal(s) for either yourself or a relative please follow the guidance on the medals GOV.UK page. We will then deal with your application as soon as we are able to return to normal working. We acknowledge that this may be frustrating, but your patience and understanding in such unprecedented circumstances is appreciated.

General information on medals can still be obtained by calling the JPA Enquiry Centre on 0800 085 3600 during the hours of 10am to 4pm.

Source: Ministry of Defence/Veterans UK

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