Attention Medically Discharged Veterans – You May be Missing Out on Rating Upgrade
The Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) was legislated by Congress and implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure the accuracy and fairness of combined disability ratings of 20% or less assigned to service members who were discharged between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009.
The review gives a veteran a second look at a disability process and corrects any errors that the service may have made, which may result in either a modification to their assigned rating or disability retirement.
When a servicemember receives full medical retirement, they are eligible for health care and a stipend for the rest of their life. A 30 percent rating or higher gives the veteran retiree status, which includes a tax-free disability retirement and TRICARE eligibility. And a review by PDBR cannot hurt a veteran’s existing rating. Those who apply but are not granted a review or a change in status can still continue receiving services from the VA.
The top three medical conditions that result in a favorable recommendation are back ailments, arthritis, and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress.
So far, only 19,000 veterans have applied, although it is estimated that some 71,000 veterans are eligible for at least a disability rating review. If an eligible veteran is incapacitated or deceased, a surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative also can request the PDBR review.
The majority of applicants, some 70 percent, have been Army, 20 percent are Navy/Marine Corps veterans, 10 percent Air Force, and less than one percent Coast Guard.
The process does require patience, as the wait for a decision can be lengthy, but in the long run, the process can be a game-changer for disabled veterans and their family members.