Unemployment and benefit claims by UK veterans in the new millennium: results from a record linkage study

September, 2019

This article describes the first study of its kind in the UK to link pensions data on benefit claims with data from the King’s Military Cohort to assess uptake of unemployment and disability benefits in military veterans of the UK Armed Forces.


Benefits data were matched with data on the mental health, demographics and military-related variables for 7942 veterans who had previously served as regulars and transitioned to civilian life between 2003 and 2016. Associations between demographic and service-related factors and benefit claims were assessed using Cox regression to take into account period at risk. Around 20% of veterans claim unemployment benefits (UB) shortly after leaving, but this proportion drops rapidly to around 2% in the first 2 years post service. Receipt of disability benefits (DB) is less common (1.5%), but longer-term. The most consistent predictors of postservice benefit usage were: low rank (a proxy for socio-economic status while in service) (HR 1.42 (95% CI 1.23 to 1.65) for UB and 1.59 (95% CI 1.11 to 2.27) for DB); leaving service (HR 1.29 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.56) between unplanned leaving and UB, and 7.51 (95% CI 5.31 to 10.6) between medical discharge and DB), and having a history of claiming benefits before joining the Services (HR 1.62 (95% CI 1.34 to 1.95) between preservice and postservice UB, and 2.86 (95% CI 1.09 to 7.47) between preservice and postservice DB). Benefit claims by veterans are largely driven by socioeconomic, rather than military, factors. Additional employment-focused support to Service leavers may be particularly useful to lower-ranked personnel and those leaving in an unplanned way. Continuity of care and medical oversight is a key concern for those with medical discharges.

Full Reference

Burdett H, Fear NT, MacManus D, et alUnemployment and benefit claims by UK veterans in the new millennium: results from a record linkage studyOccupational and Environmental Medicine 2019;76:726-732.

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