Disability Review Board: Ensuring Fairness and Accuracy

When you leave the military after a medical separation, there might be questions left in your mind. Did I get a fair rating? What if I’m entitled to a higher percentage?

If you were you medically separated from military service between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009, you may be eligible to have your disability rating reviewed to ensure fairness, consistency and accuracy. The Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) was created by Congress as part of the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act of 2008. Veterans medically separated with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not found eligible for retirement may be eligible to have their records reviewed by the Board. Former Reserve members are also eligible to apply. By law, the PDBR may not recommend a lower disability rating. Roughly 77,000 Veterans are eligible for the PDBR, but as of July 2011, less than five percent have submitted applications.

In more than 50 percent of cases reviewed, Veterans have had their original disability determination upgraded, resulting in a disability retirement. Although no guarantee of this re-characterization rate can be made, it’s a good indicator of the degree of success applicants have had with the board. If a Veteran is awarded a disability retirement, he or she becomes eligible for all retirement benefits normally awarded military department retirees: health care, access to the base exchange and commissary, and so on

Visit the PDBR homepage on how to apply. Ensure you are receiving what’s owed to you!

Michael LoGrande, a retired Air Force colonel, is a 1986 distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy and flew the C-141 on active duty and the KC-10 both on active duty and in the Air Force Reserve. Prior to his retirement in 2011, he served as the Mobilization Assistant to the Director and as a legislation liaison at the Pentagon.

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12 Comments to “Disability Review Board: Ensuring Fairness and Accuracy”

  1. Nlck says:

    As a veteran and DOD employment awaiting disability retirement MIITARY Medical Retirement has always been confusing, even more difficult to provide council to others even thou one was a qualifying profile officer and unit HCP. My first understanding …if its not written down or confirm by medical documentation than it didn’t occur or not able to validate thus considered service connected. One has to be 100% physically capable to perform their duty if not than IAW AR 40-501 chp 3 may be profiled on temporary basis up to a year than must demonstrate improvement and capability. If condition is either permanent or not improved may be considered for permanent restriction but must be world deployable. If unable to do duties or possesses permanent profile will be evaluated by PDEB, WHICH DICTATED RATING percentage. It was honorable away out and allowed application to VA Care consideration, unless discharge due to behavioral issue. The person would get say 10%, think that lifetime medical care was pending and commiment to Active Duty he was discharge. Only to find out behavioral Health issues are considered pre-existing to service thus allows VA to denie service since pre-existing is not considered service connected. I can see how the service member feels he/she is betrayed an forgotten. Tus their trust is deminished. No wonder that previously released vets aren’t being reevaluated due to trust issues and lack of communication from the government to discarged veterans. This issued should be on bill boards, tv ads, bus placards, or information flyers in MTF’S, BAS’S, DISPENSARIES, VA CLINICS and Day Rooms. All current vets on VA payroll should automatically have a second look, all medical retirees should have a manatory relook at 6 months post discharge along with voluntary consideration for relook.

  2. SCOTT JOHNSON says:

    I was medically retired in 2010 with 22.5 yrs as a Colonel. Prior to this I sent numerous Soldier thru the MEB/PEB process in good faith that the medical community was doing their job correctly. I was wrong. It started with the poorest physical in my career. The doctor then proceeded to write my NARSUM based on his 15 minute exam and my records. The result was a 4 page NARSUM that barely described my true medical and physical condition. I appealed/ challenged the 1st version, and rewrote it almost completely and added 4 additional pages of facts from my record concerning my medical condition. My version was reviewed and accepted, and sent forward to the PEB. I received a 100 percent rating 6 months after the physical, and hate to think what would have happened otherwise. Due to the progressive nature of my condition, I was even more disabled by the time I received the rating and retired. If the off-line feedback I’ve received is correct, there was little done to improve the process at my last duty station after I informed the medical chain of command of my concerns with process.

    I can only imagine what is happening to junior Soldiers who don’t know the system, lack knowledge and experience, and unwittingly trust the system. The PEB result is only as the input from the MEB. I suspect the same is true of the PDBR. If my experience is any indicator, the MEB process is flawed and lacks the quality our Soldiers and other service members deserve. While I applaud the PDBR’s efforts, it barely scratches the surface of the potential problem of how ratings are determined. The MEB is the first step in the process, it feeds the PEB, and is providing inadaquate data into the rating process.

  3. John Cameron says:

    posted to facebook 27AUG2011=”excellent link for returning vets to get established in the prime of their lives with their “partners” in Department of Veteran Affairs ….jhc” “Semper Fi” combat DAVPRM retired with family in Nova Scotia 30+ on the job crit infra.

  4. Charles T. Cauthen says:

    Mr. LoGrande, I wonder if you ever read Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr. ” REPORT TO TO SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ON THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS AND EXPOSURE TO AGENT ORANGE.”

  5. KAYLA says:

    would highly appreciate if mike logrande could contact me at kaylagaynor@yahoo.com thank you kayla

  6. Dan Cedusky says:

    50% upgraded? that system is broke at the point of discharge…where is the action taken against the people doing the PEB?MEB that are making all these mistakes. If the clerks in the company orderly room made 50% errors…they would get hung…

  7. gina uribe says:

    I agree..the C&P system (compensation and pension) is broken…vets are not receiving what is deserved for their military related disabilities due to various reasons…and they are missing out on MANY secondary conditions due to lack of knowledge and guidance from non medical veteran service officers who do not understand pathophysiology and pharmacology, etc….erroneous claims or missed claims are being filed and bogging down the system. As a previous C&P examiner and trainer as well as a committee member for DEMO (disability exam management office) who recently helped with the development of DBQ (disability benefits questionaires) that are recently instituted throughout the nation, I have seen how inadequate the system is. Thus I have resigned my position with VHA and gone into private medical consulting to assist vets with the preparation and filing of compensation claims in order to maximize the potential of success in winning deserving claims, and decrease denials (less than 20% are ever overturned once denied!)…check out my website for more info http://www.vetcompandpen.com …..

    • Kevin janey says:

      Ms. Uribe:

      You and non of your associates are accredited by VA assist, prepare, and prosecute veterans claims. Furthermore, it is illegal to charge veterans (whether you’re accredited or not) for such services if they are filing for initial benefits. In order to be able to charge a veteran for such services, you MUST first be accredited by VA, AND the secondly the claim must be on appeal. Then, and only then can a fee be payable! It is organizations such as yours who give advocates a bad reputation.

      I will be notifying the VA’s Office of the General Counsel of your organization and so-called services.

      Kevin Janey
      Accredited claims agent

  8. Harry Anderson says:

    This is great for the young guys returning now. I am very happy that somebody is doing something to help them get what they deserve. My qusetion is when is the government ever going to recognize the vietnam vet that were never even told about the benifits they were entitled to until most of them were expired/ Most of us were shipped home, turned loose on the streets to fend for ourselves without so much as “see you later”. In my circumstance: I was sent back to a very small town in rural West Virginia where there was not any VA centers within 50 miles but work was even more scarase , so I had to go on the road and live out of motel for many years. This left me without any chance to get the education that I gave up to serve this country for. Twenty-five years later I happen to be in Baltimore and found that there were services for the veteran but we only had ten years to use education benifits.
    I am a combat wounded vietnam vet that was left to scrap by in any manner that was possible. How do I complete my Education?

  9. Stephen J. Gohmann says:

    I’m a Vietnam vet whom, upon separation from service, was told I had to sign a waiver for treatment of what the Army knew (and had documented) was a service related hearing loss (I served in a 155mm howitzer Battery). I signed the waiver insofar as I had approved plans for a 90 day early out and had made arrangements to renew my college education.

    For 40 years I suffered from the hearing loss and bilateral tinnitus until finally I applied to the VA for disability and treatment three years ago. The VA confirmed my service connected disability, I was awarded 10% for both the hearing loss and bilateral tinnitus.

    I am now in the process of requesting my eligibility date be recalc’d to be consistent with my date of discharge in 1970. I spoke to a DAV NSO who insisted there was no possibility of this being approved because ‘I didn’t apply to the VA’ when I should have.

    Seems to me that the VA, in confirming my disability and approving treatment and compensation, has in effect already agreed my disability began many years ago and, if that’s the case, I should be entitled to compensation since that time.

    Does anyone have any Case Law references which would either refute or confirm my retroactive eligibility? Thanks.

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