If your deafness or hearing loss was caused by service in the armed forces you could be eligible for compensation, which could be a lump sum payment or a monthly payment.
If you’re deaf or have hearing loss because of service in the armed forces, you may qualify for an Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) award.
The AFCS is run by Veterans UK on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It’s entirely separate from any other personal accident cover.
All current and former members of the UK armed forces, including reservists, can submit a claim for compensation for any illness or injury caused by service-related activity. You may also claim for conditions you had before service if you feel your service made them worse, but only after you have left the armed forces.
If you qualify for an AFCS award, the amount you’ll receive will depend on the severity of your injury or illness and the impact that it has on your life.
All payments are non-taxable and you don’t need to have paid national insurance contributions to get them. Your level of income or savings doesn’t affect your claim.
Who qualifies for compensation
You may qualify for an AFCS award if your hearing loss is a direct consequence of your duties in the armed forces. But it doesn’t have to be caused by active service or combat. If it was caused by, for example, an injury sustained during a training exercise, or by an ear infection contracted as a result of service, you can still claim. You have seven years after the incident that caused your hearing loss to make a claim.
If your hearing loss is the result of service in the armed forces before 6 April 2005, your claim will be considered under the War Pensions Scheme.
Types of compensation
There are two main types of AFCS benefits:
- Lump sum payments
- Guaranteed Income Payments.
Lump sum payments
If your claim is successful, you may receive a tax-free lump sum payment as compensation for your pain and suffering. How much you’ll get will depend on the severity of your injury or illness.
Lump sum payments range from £1,200 to £570,000. If you have multiple injuries from the same incident, the scheme will give you some compensation for each injury, up to a maximum of £570,000.
Guaranteed income payments (GIPs)
Those with the most serious injuries and illnesses can also get a tax-free, monthly payment called a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP). This is paid from the day after service ends (where a claim is made while still in service), or from the date of the claim (if the claim is made after discharge).
Claiming for an AFCS award
If you’re medically discharged from the armed forces, Veterans UK will, in some cases, automatically consider the illness or injury that led to your medical discharge and anything arising from it without you needing to submit a claim form. In all other circumstances, you’ll need to submit claim form AFCS/WPS001 to Veterans UK.
Veterans UK staff and voluntary organisations can help you to fill in the claim form. Contact Veterans UK on 0808 1914 218 (telephone).
Any information you can give in support of your claim, such as reports from your Medical Officer, should speed up the process. The form includes guidance notes, which tell you more about the type of information needed.
How payment is decided
What you receive will depend on the tariff level for your injury. The AFCS Tariff has 15 levels from 1 (most severe) to 15 (least severe). Each tariff level has a corresponding level of lump sum payment. You’ll receive a GIP if your injury is assessed at level 1–11.
All awards for hearing loss, including blast injury to the ears and acoustic trauma, include compensation for associated tinnitus. No separate award is given for tinnitus alone.
In some cases, supplementary awards may be paid for certain injuries, including when a blast injury to the ears results in the tympanic membrane (eardrum) being perforated (torn). The supplementary award will be added to the value of the lump sum.
Where you have been awarded for more than one injury, your lump sum will be calculated according to the severity of your injuries and the number of body zones affected.
How an AFCS payment may affect other benefits
Your Lump sum payment will be considered as capital and may reduce the amount of means-tested benefit you are entitled to. But the Lump sum isn’t counted as capital if you put it into a trust. If you (or your partner) are over the age of 60, the value of the lump sum won’t count as capital if you claim Pension Credit.
If you’re receiving a GIP, this may affect your entitlement to other state benefits.