Legislation will be amended in April 2016 to enable all veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma as a result of Service the choice between receiving a traditional War Pension or £140,000 in lump sum compensation, regardless of age at diagnosis. The average civilian compensation award under the Government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme is around £122,000.
Whilst the law won’t be amended until April, the Ministry of Defence have indicated that payments will be backdated to the date of the Government’s announcement, which was at yesterday’s meeting of the Central Advisory Committee. From 16 December, all veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma who submit a claim to Veterans UK will receive a traditional War Pension as normal for the period up until April 2016. After that date, should the claimant decide they would prefer to receive a lump sum payment, Veterans UK will arrange for this to happen, with the value of any War Pension already received being deducted from the final lump sum award. We understand that independent advice will be offered to all veteran Mesothelioma claimants to help them decide which payment option is right for them, given that War Pensions include survivors benefits.
The Royal British Legion has long maintained that veterans should be compensated fairly for their suffering, and we commend the Government for taking steps to address this important issue. Whilst we welcome yesterday’s announcement, we do remain disappointed that around 60 veterans who are currently in receipt of a War Disablement Pension for Mesothelioma will be unable to apply for the new lump sum compensation award. This is on account of successive governments’ longstanding opposition to retrospection. The Legion has informed officials of our disappointment and has suggested that that this particular group of veterans should be considered worthy of ‘special’ status within the terms of the Armed Forces Covenant, in light of both their limited life expectancy and the severity of their pain and suffering. “We are pleased that the Government has indicated that it will review this matter, and we will continue to monitor developments closely.”