Since World War 1, the nature and amount of awards under the War Pension Scheme has depended on the assessed degree of disablement due to service.
Assessment of the degree of disablement is by comparing the condition of the individual as disabled by service with the condition of a normal healthy person of the same age and sex. From this time a distinction has always been drawn between assessments of under 20 per cent. and those of 20 per cent. or more. The reason why the threshold was originally set at 20 per cent. is not known.
Before 1 April 1962, awards to “other ranks” with an assessment of less than 20 per cent. were in the form of a weekly allowance for a prescribed period followed in some cases by a terminal lump sum gratuity. For officers only gratuities were paid. A change in 1962 aligned the treatment of all members of the armed forces, so that since that date, all awards for disablement assessed at less than 20 per cent. have been in the form of a one off gratuity, regardless of rank.
Assessments of 20 per cent. or more have always given rise to a continuing pension for all ranks. As part of a periodic review of the War Pension Scheme one of the options under consideration is to raise the 20 per cent. assessment level at which a pension becomes payable for new claims.