Veterans’ Gateway, a new service for veterans, is ready to assist veterans with pension problems this Pension Awareness Day, with some key pieces of advice on Armed Forces pensions.
Providing a first point of contact for veterans who need support, Veterans’ Gateway connects users with the right organisation that can help on a range of issues including housing, finance, mental health and employment.
Since the launch of the service, pensions advice is one of the most common subjects that individuals using Veterans’ Gateway have sought help and guidance on.
With this in mind, to mark Pension Awareness Day, the service has joined forces with its expert referral partner, Forces Pension Society, to issue five key facts that all veterans should know about their forces pension:
- If you leave the forces early you must claim your pension yourself. You should claim 3-6 months before you reach the pension age for your scheme. It will not happen automatically. So make sure you remember and when the time comes get in touch with Veterans UK.
- If you have an injury or illness which is caused by something that happened when you were serving you might qualify for a disability award – this is true even if the injury or illness started after you had retired.
- If you are getting divorced the arrangements for sharing your pension can be very complicated. You must get legal advice.
- If you are still serving it can make sense to buy extra pension – this can give you more money in the long run, and the sooner you start to think about this the better.
- The timing of your retirement can make a difference to the pension you get – it is good to take advice about this.
David Hatcher, Chairman of Veterans’ Gateway, said: “Veterans’ Gateway was established to ensure that former Service personnel, their families and carers can access the help they deserve. Since the service launched we have seen an influx of people contacting us with questions about their pension.
“Many people may feel as though it is too late, or they simply are not aware of when, how and if they are eligible for their forces pension. We’re taking this opportunity to try and bring some clarity to these issues and to encourage anyone who has questions around their pension to contact Veterans’ Gateway where they will be connected with one of our expert referral partners in this area who can provide advice based on their individual circumstances.”
Neil Brogan, 47, an ex-Sapper who served for nine years including tours in Northern Ireland, Belize and the Falklands, was unaware of his forces pension rights until coming into contact with the Forces Pension Society through Veterans’ Gateway.
After an initial consultation with the Forces Pension Society Neil discovered that he was eligible for a lump-sum pension of £7,000 on his 60th birthday followed by annual payments of £2,300.
Neil says: “We had some lectures on pensions before I retired from service but, frankly they were difficult to understand. I’m sure there are others in my position.”
The Royal British Legion’s Household Survey 2014 revealed that one of the biggest challenges people leaving the Armed Forces face is debt and money management, with 16 to 34-year-olds – particularly veterans and those who live alone – reporting a number of issues around debt, employment and transition into life in civvy street.
Veterans’ Gateway is a consortium project delivered by The Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, Poppyscotland and Connect Assist.
To contact Veterans’ Gateway Call: 0808 802 1212 Text: 81212 or visit: www.veteransgateway.org.uk
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
About Veterans’ Gateway
Veterans’ Gateway is a new service launched in response to Lord Ashcroft’s Veterans’ Transition Review that is a first point of contact for veterans, their families and carers who are in need of support. The new £2 million service is funded from the Covenant Fund allocated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and will be delivered by a consortium comprising The Royal British Legion, Poppyscotland, Combat Stress, Connect Assist, the Ministry of Defence and SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity. Veterans’ Gateway represents a pathway to a full list of services from housing and recovery to mental health services, financial and employment advice. The service aims to reduce the confusion for veterans seeking support within the military charity sector and will ensure it can signpost to the right service for any need a veteran may present with.
For more information on Veterans’ Gateway, or if you are in need of support, visit www.veteransgateway.org.uk, call 0808 802 1212 or text 81212
About the Covenant Fund
The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the armed forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to current and former members of the armed forces and their families, and it sets out how they should expect to be treated. The Covenant Fund has £10 million each year to support the Armed Forces Covenant by funding projects which address specific priorities.