Armed Forces Independence Payment

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 17 October 2012 David Cameron said that members of the armed forces who were injured would be treated separately under Personal Independence Payment. I lodged a written parliamentary question on this and it turns out there will be a separate benefit called Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP). I’ve reproduced the answer in full below:

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the Prime Minister of 17 October 2012, Official Report, column 318, on engagements, whether disabled ex-service personnel will be exempt from face-to-face assessments for personal independence payments. [126484]

Esther McVey: On 19 July the Prime Minister announced additional financial support for members of the armed forces who have been seriously injured.

Eligibility for the new payment, the Armed Forces Independence Payment, will be linked to the level of award an individual receives under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Those who are eligible for the Armed Forces Independence Payment will not undergo an additional assessment.

Injured service and ex-service personnel who chose to apply for PIP or who are not eligible for AFIP, will follow the same application process as other PIP applicants; this may include a face-to-face consultation.

So it would appear that eligibility for the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) will be key in determining subsequent eligibility for the AFIP. The AFCS is administered by the Veterans Agency and information on their website seems to suggest that claims are usually decided on the basis of the MoD’s records (often based on a serving member’s chain of command)  or information supplied by the claimant’s GP or other health professional. Thus it is entirely possible that a claimant for AFIP could receive the benefit without having to attend a dedicated face to face assessment at any point. I’ve since  come across a good summary from Defence Minister Mark Francois from 22 October 2012:

When the personal independence payment comes in, anyone will be able to apply for it. However, seriously injured service personnel and ex-service personnel will instead be able to apply for a separate payment, which will guarantee that they will not be worse off than under disability living allowance. Under that payment, they will not be subject to periodic reassessment, as PIP recipients will be. The separate payment, which is known as the armed forces independence payment, or AFIP, will be available to those in receipt of an award from the armed forces compensation scheme at tariff levels 1 to 8, or with an entitlement to a guaranteed income payment of 50% or higher.

However it is still far from clear how the new payment will work in practice. I thus asked a series of follow up questions and got an answer dated 3 December 2012. While this confirms that, in general, AFIP claimants will not have to attend assessments or be regularly reassessed, the Minister fails to clarify how often this occurs under the current system. A further announcement was made on 14 February 2013, but I’ll continue to monitor this area.