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Benefits and concessions for the Armed Forces, veterans and their families

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

About this information

This information applies to:

  • people who are serving in the Armed Forces
  • people who used to serve in the Armed Forces (veterans)
  • the dependants of people serving in the Armed Forces and veterans.

There are many different kinds of financial help available for people in the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

You can use this information to find out what financial help might be available to you, depending on your situation. You can also use this information to find details of organisations that might be able to help you further.

What financial help is available?

Veterans, people serving in the Armed Forces and their dependants have a range of financial help available to help them. This can include:

Benefits in the UK

Veterans, people serving in the Armed Forces and their dependants may be able to claim a range of benefits in the UK. These include:

  • Child Benefit
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • tax credits.

You can find more information about benefits for veterans and people serving in the Armed Forces from the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

For more information about benefits, see our Benefits section.

Benefits abroad

If you are a veteran living abroad, or you are serving in the Armed Forces abroad, you and your dependants may still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. You may be able to claim:

  • Maternity Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseekers Allowance (in certain European Union countries only).

If you are refused a benefit you think you should get, you can contact the Royal British Legion for help to appeal. Contact:

Legionline: 0808 802 8080 (open 7 days a week, 8.00am – 8.00pm)
Email: info@britishlegion.org.uk
Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk

Rate Relief

In Northern Ireland you may be able to get help with payment of your rates if you qualify for:

  • Disabled persons allowance, or
  • Lone pensioner allowance, or
  • If you are on a low income

War disablement pension, war widow’s pensions and war widowers pensions are disregarded in full when assessing entitlement to Housing Benefit and Rate Relief in Northern Ireland.

For more information about Housing Benefit for Rates and Rate Relief in Northern Ireland, see Help with your rates.

Armed Forces pensions

If you are claiming a war pension, or a war widow or widower pension and you are moving abroad, you should get advice on your pension.

You can get advice from Veterans UK. Their contact details are:

Telephone from the UK: 0808 1914218
Telephone from abroad: + 44 1 253 866043
Email: veterans.help@spva.gsi.gov.uk

Help with school fees and childcare costs

If you are currently serving in the Armed Forces, you may be able to claim an allowance to help pay for your child's boarding school fees. You can get more information from the Children's Education Advisory Service. Their contact details are:

Helpline: 01980 618244 (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 3.30pm)
Email: enquiries@ceas.detsa.co.uk

You can buy childcare vouchers to pay for the care of your child. As these are free from tax and national insurance, you can make big savings on the cost of childcare. If you register for the Armed Forces childcare voucher scheme the cost of the vouchers is taken from your pay every month. The vouchers can be used to pay for nursery care, summer camps for teenagers, boarding school fees and many other childcare costs.

You can find more information and application forms on childcare and school fees on the Ministry of Defence Childcare website at: www.modchildcare.co.uk.

Free and reduced travel costs

Remembrance Travel

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Travel organises visits to cemeteries, battlefields and memorials across the world. Details of future tours can be found on the website at www.poppytravel.org.uk.

Financial help from the Government is available to war widows and widowers who wish to visit their spouse’s grave or war memorial. This only applies to those who lost a husband or wife overseas before 1967.

For more details, contact Poppy Travel: 01622 716 729.

Veterans travel in London

You can apply to join the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme in London if you are:

  • a veteran getting financial help under the War Pensions Scheme
  • a veteran getting regular financial help under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • a war widow or war widower getting financial help from the War Pensions or Armed Forces Compensation Schemes.

Under the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme, you will be issued with an Oyster photocard. You can use this to travel free at any time within London on the bus, underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), tram and London overground services.

You can find out more information about this scheme by contacting Transport for London. Their contact details are:

Helpline: 0845 331 9872 (open Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5.00pm)
Website: www.tfl.gov.uk

War Disablement SmartPass

To qualify for free fares on public transport in Northern Ireland you must be in receipt of a regular War Disablement Pension or Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) from Veterans UK, and permanently reside in Northern Ireland.

Veterans UK automatically issues the application form to all those who are eligible. If you believe you are eligible and have not received an application form, contact Veterans UK.

Helpline: 0808 191 4218
Website: www.veterans-uk.info

Blue Badge Scheme

You may be eligible for a Blue Badge if you a disabled veteran or a member of the Armed Forces.

If you are currently in the Armed Forces and are no longer resident in the UK, you or a member of your household can apply to the Ministy of Defence for a Blue Badge. If you've kept your residency in Northern Ireland, you should apply to the Northern Ireland Blue Badge Scheme.

For more information about the war disablement pension, see Pension and compensation schemes for the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

For more information about eligibility for the Blue Badge Scheme, see

You can find more information on the Blue Badge Scheme on nidirect at www.nidirect.gov.uk

Forces Railcard

People serving in the Armed Forces, husbands, wives and dependant children can buy the HM Forces Railcard. This gives you 1/3 off most rail fares throughout the UK for a year.

War widows or widowers and their dependants who are getting an Armed Forces pension are also eligible for a Railcard.

You can find more information about the Forces Railcard, including how much it costs and the savings you can make, on the HM Forces Railcard website at: www.hmforces-railcard.co.uk.

If you are a war widow or widower you can apply for a Railcard through the Royal British Legion. Contact:

Legionline: 0808 802 8080 (open 7 days a week, 8.00am – 8.00pm)
Email: info@britishlegion.org.uk
Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk

Veterans cannot apply for this railcard.

Forces Discounts 

People serving in the Armed Forces, veterans and their families can get discounts for many goods and services.

You can find out more about the discounts available from the Defence Discount Service website at www.defencediscountservice.co.uk.

Other organisations

Royal British Legion - Northern Ireland

The Royal British Legion can offer advice to the Armed Forces, veterans and their families on many issues, including money matters.

Their contact details are:

Helpline: 0808 802 8080 (open 7 days a week, 8.00am – 8.00pm)
Email: info@britishlegion.org.uk
Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk.

SSAFA - Northern Ireland

SSAFA is an independent charity offering advice to people in the Armed Forces, veterans and their families on many issues, including welfare advice, housing and healthcare.

The charity also runs a free helpline and email service that provides support and advice on many issues.

Their contact details are:

Helpline: 02890 327 740
Email: welfare@ssafa.org.uk
Website: www.ssafa.org.uk.

Aftercare Service – Northern Ireland

The Aftercare Service provides medical, vocational, welfare and benevolence support to former full-time and part-time UDR and R IRISH (HS) soldiers and their families. You can contact them through their website www.aftercareservice.org, or telephone directly one of their field teams:

North (Coleraine) 028 9226 0615
East (Holywood) 028 9042 0266
West (Enniskillen) 028 9226 0114
South (Portadown) 028 9026 0044

Veterans UK

Veterans UK, which is an Agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), is the sole Government-funded source of help and advice for veterans. Its website has a lot of useful information for veterans and their families, including on welfare support and other specialist support programmes that are available to veterans. It also provides links to many other veterans organisations.

Veterans UK also runs a free helpline for veterans, which gives advice on many topics.

The contact details of Veterans UK are:

Veterans UK
Ministry of Defence
Norcross
Thornton Cleveleys
Lancashire
FY5 3WP

Veterans Helpline: 0808 1914218
Bereavement and textphone line: 0800 169 3458
Email: veterans-uk@mod.uk
Website: www.veterans-uk.info

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