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Brian is a veteran who served in Northern Ireland during the troubles. His experience left him with a serious knee impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he developed type 2 diabetes as a result.  

I didn’t know much about PTSD until I went to Combat Stress to have the treatment I needed. While I was there, I met someone from Veterans UK and found out that I was entitled to a war pension.” 

The war pension scheme compensates people who have suffered injuries attributable to, or aggravated by, military service before April 2005. The amount received is based on the assessed level of disability, given as a percentage. Initially, Veterans UK assessed Brian’s entitlement as 30% for his PTSD and knee injury, but refused to award him anything for his diabetes.  

Why did Brian contact Advocate? 

Brian wanted to appeal the decision. “I thought, I’m not having that. I put my life on the line on many occasions. But the process has been going on for years and I didn’t have the knowledge to navigate myself through the appeals processThere are so many barriers and so much red tapeit’s unbelievable. 

Advocate found a barrister, Ajay Ratan from Blackstone Chambers, to assist with Brian’s appeal.  

I felt so relieved when Advocate said they would support me in my appeal. Advocate matched me up with Ajay Ratan and he has specialist skills. I spoke to Ajay on the phone and although I was still mindful of the possibility that things might not go my way, I knew right away that he would really help me. I still had to put the work in as well, by providing Ajay with all the information and documents he needed, but wworked well together. We talked about my appeal and came up with a plan. He never put words in my mouth, but he did his research as well. 

How having a barrister helped Brian 

After two years and several delays, Ajay, Brian's barrister, argued at the appeal hearing that the pension should better reflect the seriousness of Brian’s PTSD and knee injury, and that he was entitled to more money on the basis that his PTSD had caused him to develop diabetes. With a barrister to represent him and a medical specialist who gave evidence on the link between his PTSD and diabetes, Brian won his appeal. 

“When we went into court, Ajay was just amazingI’d done my bit and he’d done his bit and we had everything together. It was so well-structured; knew exactly what was happening. He prepared the same bundle of documents that he had to have for me as well. 

The tribunal accepted that Brian’s pension was too low and increased the amount awarded for his PTSD and his knee injury. They ruled that Brian should receive money for his diabetes, increasing his award from 30% to 60% altogether. Brian’s barrister also argued that Brian had been underpaid for several years, so was entitled to back pay running into several thousands of pounds, adding a level of security that Brian had previously found difficult to imagine.  

I was nervous going into court – I’d never been in court before – but Ajay really reassured meThe panel had all the information and I just told them how it was affecting me. I had to get up at one point, halfway through, because it was getting quite upsetting. Ajay followed me out and he was so sympathetic. He gave me the space I needed and he gave me the reassurance as well. And we won the case, hands down. His expectations were my expectations as well, we didn’t go for anything more than that. I was very happy with the outcome.” 

A weight off Brian’s shoulders 

Having won the appeal, Brian is now waiting on final administrative issues to be resolved, but he can already feel the relief of the long, difficult process coming to an end. 

We’ve still got a little bit to do, to tie up loose ends, but I know now that the case is closed and it’s like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. I live a good life and this has been the only thing giving me sleepless nights, anxiety problems, and it’s really affected my PTSD at times. But now it’s like closure. I’ve kept the documents I had to take into court, but I’ve shredded all the other paperwork and it was such a reliefI finally won my appeal and I’m happy with that. I don’t need to push anymoreI can concentrate on building my life up again.”  

Reflecting on the process, Brian is keen express his gratitude to his barrister:

 “I want to put on record that Ajay is a credit to himself and his legal practice. He was very supportive in keeping me grounded, helping me through the process and keeping me confident and reassured at all times. Thank you, Ajay.