The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have simplified and streamlined the medical evaluation process for service members and their families through the creation of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. Additionally, your Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer acts as your main intermediary during the process, providing valuable guidance and serving as a patient advocate.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System process begins when your physician recommends you for a medical board.
Medical Evaluation Board
A physician recommends a medical board when it becomes apparent that your condition may permanently interfere with your ability to serve on active duty. Documentation for the medical board’s review is assembled by your current military treatment facility and includes the following:
- Medical documentation. Current medical examination, a copy of your record, an assessment by a senior physician and approvals by two additional physicians.
- Non-medical documentation. An assessment by your commanding officer describing how your condition affects your ability to perform assigned job duties.
- Rebuttal by the service member (optional). If you disagree with any of the information included in the medical board documents, you may submit a rebuttal statement explaining the reason for disagreement.
The medical board may recommend temporary limited duty, (normally for a period of not more than 12 months), and re-evaluate the case later. Otherwise, the medical board documents will be forwarded to the Physical Evaluation Board.
Physical Evaluation Board
The Physical Evaluation Board reviews all medical board documentation to determine if you are fit for continued military service. Your rate or military occupation specialty and ability to deploy are also considered. Here’s what takes place during the PEB process:
- Informal board. After reviewing the documentation, the board determines whether you are fit for duty. If found unfit, the board will assign a disability rating. If the rating is less than 20 percent, you may be discharged with or without the benefit of severance pay. If the rating is more than 30 percent, the board may list you on either the Temporary Disability Retired List or the Permanent Disability Retired List. You may stay on the Temporary Disability Retired List for up to five years, be re-evaluated every 12-18 months, and receive retired pay and retiree benefits during that time. If you are placed on the Permanent Disability Retired List, you will receive retirement pay and benefits for life.
- Service member’s review. The Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer advises you on the informal board’s findings. If you disagree with the findings, you may request a formal board.
- Formal board. An attorney is appointed to represent you, or you may hire an attorney. The formal board re-examines the evidence, hears testimony and considers any new evidence before making a recommendation, which may or may not uphold the informal board’s findings.
- Request to remain on active duty. In some instances, you may be able to remain on active duty, even if you receive an unfit rating from the Physical Evaluation Board. Your Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer may work with you to prepare a request to remain on active duty.
- Final decision. The informal or formal Physical Evaluation Board recommendations and request to remain on active duty, if applicable, are sent to your service headquarters. The headquarters makes the final determination on both the physical board’s recommendations and any request to remain on active duty.
Throughout this process, the Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer will be available to help you track your progress. Regardless of the final decision, you and your family will be supported throughout the determination process and your eventual return to active service or transition out of the military.