FAQs – All Members

Q        I have just been diagnosed with MS is there anything I need to do?

A        A positive diagnosis of MS means you are legally obliged to inform the DVLA. You will be sent a questionnaire and the DVLA may get in touch with your GP or specialist to confirm you are safe to drive.  Providing you are safe to drive, your licence will be replaced with a licence for between 1 and 3 years and will be reviewed each time it is due to expire. In some circumstances you will be sent for a driving assessment but this is normally only when your GP sheds doubt on your ability to drive.  It is also your responsibility to inform the DVLA if your condition deteriorates and the deterioration has an effect on your ability to drive for example – eyesight, cognitive or some mobility issues.

Important Note: If you do not inform the DVLA of your diagnosis or deterioration you are breaking the law and your insurance company is highly unlikely to pay if you are involved in an accident.

You also need to inform the following people if relevant.

  • Vehicle Insurer
  • Annual holiday insurance policy company
  • Health insurance company
  • Critical Illness Insurer

Q          I have critical illness insurance,  Now I have been diagnosed with MS will the policy pay-up?

A          The answer is possibly.  Some policies of this type have MS listed as an accepted condition – for these policies claiming will be relatively straight-forward. Each policy is different and you will need to check the rules for your individual policy.

FAQs – Serving Members

Q         Can I still be promoted now I have MS?

A          Yes - MS is not a bar to promotion, but other factors, such as med cat and deployability, will be taken into account.

Q         Can I extend my service if I have MS?

A          Yes – this will of course be decided on an individual basis but many individuals have had their service extended.

Q         Can I serve in Afghanistan and other out-of-area locations with MS?

A          There is no easy answer to this one – each case is treated individually.  The answer is generally ‘no’, but there have been a few exceptions.  Someone with an illness like MS is a ‘known risk’.  You may feel as if you are as fit as your contemporaries but you might have a relapse while on deployment and this could put both you and your team members at risk.  One of the other reasons for not allowing individuals with MS to deploy, is the immediate availability of treatment should you experience a relapse.  Most deployments are stressful environments and it is known that MS and stress don’t mix well and you are therefore more likely to experience a worsening of symptoms or a full relapse in such environments – you should think seriously about this when making a case to be allowed to deploy.

Q         Can I serve in Germany, for example, with MS?

A          Once again, each case is treated individually, but MS is not necessarily a bar.

Q         Can I serve overseas if my partner has MS?

A          The answer is generally ‘yes’, depending on the care and treatment your partner would need and whether it is available in the area to which you are going.  It is essential you are totally honest about the support your partner needs, lest you become an admin burden and find yourself being short toured and sent home!

Q         If I had symptoms of MS in 2003, but was not diagnosed with MS until 06, which compensation scheme will I come under?

A          The important date is the date of first symptoms, NOT the date of diagnosis, so you will come under the old WP Scheme.

Q         How do I know if things I experienced before diagnosis were symptoms of MS?

A          If you have a look at the synopsis of causation document on the SPVA web-site  you may recognise things like pins and needles, numbness and other strange sensory symptoms that people tend to brush off prior to diagnosis, but with hindsight were more than likely the first symptoms of MS.

Q         Will the SPVA accept these incidents as the first episodes of my MS, particularly if they are not recorded on my medical docs?

A          It is much easier to do this if there is a record on your documents, but this is not essential as it is accepted that individuals are quite likely to have had several untreated, undiagnosed episodes prior to diagnosis.  If you remember any such incidents you should mention these to your MO and ask them to record them retrospectively on your records.

Q         Is MS always considered as attributable to service?

A          We cannot guarantee this and for the AFCS we are not at all sure, but for those with eligible claims under the WP Scheme and for members of the AFPS 75 which awards attributable benefits, we have not encountered anyone who has not been awarded a war pension.

Q         Why can’t you say if MS will be considered as attributable to service under AFCS?

A          For AFCS the burden of proof lies with the claimant, for the WP Scheme it lies with the MOD.  The definitive cause of MS remains unclear and as such it is very difficult for the MOD to disprove causation under the WP Scheme – equally it might be difficult for the claimant to do the same under the AFCS.

Q         Does this mean that if I am medically discharged and not eligible under the WP Scheme I will leave with only the pension I have earned up until the point of discharge?

A          No – if your symptoms of MS started after Apr 05, irrespective of which pension scheme you are a member of, you will be awarded invaliding benefits under one of the pension schemes and this will be more than your earned pension.

Q         How ‘disabled’ to have to be to be awarded a high level of disability under the WP Scheme?

A          Each case is different, but to be awarded a 100% WP for example, does not necessarily mean you need to be a wheelchair user – all sorts of other things are taken into consideration, like pain and fatigue.

FAQs – Dependant Members

Q         My husband is in the military and has been offered a posting overseas, will we be allowed to go, as I have MS?

A          This depends on where the posting is and your personal circumstances.  There is a medical screening process for personnel being posted overseas and this will also involve the dependant members of the family.  The MOD has a duty to you as a family and must ensure that there are suitable facilities where you are going to support you should you become ill and have a relapse.  If you are on any drugs (like DMDs) they must also ensure that the drugs are available at the location you are being posted to and that you can receive the care and supervision you need whilst taking those drugs.  In general for dependants with MS a posting to BFG is normally feasible if your MS is stable.

Q         I have been told we cannot go to BFG because I am on DMDs and the military will not pay for my drugs in Germany - is this the case?

A          If this happens you need to make sure that the information is coming from a reliable source and is not a rumour.  All drugs for dependants overseas are paid for by the NHS in the UK and as such cost is not a contributing factor to whether dependants with MS (or any other condition) can accompany their spouses overseas.  Contact Mutual Support immediately with the facts if anyone in authority informs you that cost is an issue.

Q         Will my MS have an impact on my husband’s career?

A          Only if, because of your MS, his suitability for posting is restricted and then it is possible (but not always the case) that his career may be affected to some degree.

Q        Can I claim DLA if I am still working.

A        Yes – DLA is paid on top of any other earnings or income you may have; it is not means tested and nor is it taxed.  The Benefit is for people who need some help with care and getting around, but you do not need to be getting the care you need to qualify – it is about the care you need and not the care you receive.

FAQs – Ex-Serving Members

Q         I left the military 3 years ago and have just been diagnosed with MS.  When I look back I now know that some of the strange medical issues I had whilst still serving were undoubtedly the start of my MS, but I didn’t realise it at the time.  Can I claim for a War Pension?

A          Yes.  You have 7 years to claim for a War Pension once you have left the military; after this time you can still claim, but you will have to prove that your MS was caused by your service rather than the MOD having to disprove it.

Q         How do I make a claim for a War Pension after I have left the military?

A          The first thing to do is to contact our Pensions people who will talk you through the process, but also have a look at the website Claiming a War Pension.

       Can I claim DLA if I am still working?

A        Yes – DLA is paid on top of any other earnings or income you may have; it is not means tested and nor is it taxed.  The Benefit is for people who need some help with care and getting around, but you do not need to be getting the care you need to qualify – it is about the care you need and not the care you receive.

Q         I don’t seem to be getting help with medical care – what can I do?

A          We hear from a lot of veterans who seem to experience problems getting the right medical care in their area. The General Medical Council (GMC) website has a guide, “Good Medical Practice”, which explains the duties of a doctor and may be a good place to start. If this does not help then contacting the Chief Executive of your Primary Care Trust (PCT) may be the next move.

Q           I developed MS after leaving the military and have a deferred pension that will not be paid until I am 60.  I am no longer able to work – can my pension be paid early?

A           Yes, you can apply for your preserved pension to be paid early see the page titled ill-health pension