By September 12, 2008
Information on the Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board process
Aca,!Ac Soldiers can track the progress on their MEB via the My MEB Portal on AKO. If they have questions about the data they see in the My MEB Portal, they are encouraged to contact their MEB Counselor. The My MEB Portal is at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/417118.
Aca,!Ac The Army has developed a pocket-size hand book which soldiers can use to track where they are in the MEB/PEB process. It is one of the first tools soldiers receive at the beginning of the process.
Some of the common myths associated with the MEB / PEB process include:
1. The Army is pushing Soldiers to the VA.
Aca,!Ac The Physical Disability Evaluation System is designed to determine the fitness and applicable disability benefits of Service Members with duty related impairments.
Aca,!Ac It provides an evaluation for physical fitness of Soldiers who may be unfit to perform their military duties because of physical disability.
2. Soldiers can't get reviews or assistance with narrative summaries.
Aca,!Ac The Soldier has multiple advocates to assist them with reviewing their narrative summary and complete MEB to include the PEBLO, Providers, Office of Soldier Counsel, and various service provider organizations (e.g. DAV).
3. The process takes too long - just slow, don't care about how this impacts Soldiers.
Aca,!Ac Every Soldier's case is unique and the complexity of the case as well as the multiple opportunities for rebuttals and appeals throughout the process affect the processing time.
Aca,!Ac The goal is to ensure each and every condition is adequately addressed and that optimal medical benefit is achieved before sending the MEB to the PEB.
4. The process is too fast - they are just trying to get me out of here.
Aca,!Ac See response above.
Aca,!Ac To the Soldier/Family this is a very complex and stressful process that involves major life changes that are difficult to process and accept (e.g. loss of career).
5. I'm stuck here and can't take leave while my MEB is being done.
Aca,!Ac Leave is allowed for Soldiers so long as it does not interfere with their MEB processing (e.g. scheduled consults, MEB counseling, etc.)
6. I don't have anyone to help me; the Army is just trying to push me out without paying me what I deserve.
Aca,!Ac The Soldier has multiple advocates to assist them through out the process to include the PEBLO, Providers, WTU/CMD, Office of Soldier Counsel, Ombudsman, and various service provider organizations (e.g. DAV).
7. Army is short-changing me, paying me less than what I deserve - I can get more compensation if I go to VA.
Aca,!Ac This myth needs to be addressed by the PDA/PEB. The MEB documents medical conditions and whether that condition meets retention standards. The PEB determines if the Soldier is fit or unfit and if found unfit the disability rating/compensation.
1. RC Soldiers are rated lower than AC Soldiers.
Aca,!Ac The opposite is true. RC Soldiers generally have more unfitting conditions. More unfitting conditions lead to higher ratings.
2. The PEB only rates one condition.
Aca,!Ac The PEB reviews every condition cited in the MEB.
Aca,!Ac During the first six months of FY08, the PEBs rated 23% of AC Soldiers for more than one condition; 45% of RC Soldiers.
3. PEB takes too long.
Aca,!Ac In FY07 the average processing time for the PEBs/PDA combined was 28 days (this includes a minimum of 10 days for Soldier Election).
4. Ratings are lower than VA.
Aca,!Ac In general this will be true. All Military Services may only rate those conditions that are unfitting, whereas the VA will rate ALL conditions that service-incurred. Therefore, since the VA will rate more conditions, the numerical ratings will often be higher.
5. VA requires a rating from the Service.
Aca,!Ac The VA does not require a MEB, PEB, or a Service rating.
Aca,!Ac The VA needs your military health records.
Aca,!Ac The VA is not bound by any Service rating, nor are the Services bound by a VA rating.
6. Contesting an informal PEB leads to lowering the rating.
Aca,!Ac This is not true. There is no retribution allowed in this system. [Not sure if I want to add this: The fact is a majority do not change.
Aca,!Ac Of those that do change due to challenges, those that increase do so because of additional supporting medical documentation supplied by the Soldier
7. If injured in combat, Soldiers believe they will automatically be separated from the Army.
Aca,!Ac Actually, most wounded Soldiers return to duty.
Aca,!Ac However, for those who do not meet retention standards there is the option for COAD.
Aca,!Ac To date 100% of the combat wounded Soldiers have had their COAD requests approved.
MEB/PEB Questions & Answers
Q1. How does an MEB/PEB start'
A1. It all starts with the Physical Profile, DA Form 3349. All Soldiers issued a permanent profile with a "3"or "4"in PULHES will be referred to PPES (MMRB) or APDES. For permanent "3"or "4"profiles a physician needs to determine if limitation meets retention criteria IAW Ch 3, AR 40-501. If the Soldier meets retention criteria, MMRB is mandatory. If the Soldier does not meet retention criteria, entry into the physical disability (MEB / PEB) system is mandatory.
Q2. Who gets a copy of the profile'
A2. Original goes in Soldier's medical record; one copy to unit commander; one copy to Soldier; one copy to MPD (Military Personnel Division) or Personnel Service Center (PSC), as applicable. (For ARNGUS soldiers, the State Military Personnel Office (MILPO) gets a copy).
Q3. What is a medical evaluation board or MEB'
A3. The MEB Process begins when optimum medical care has been reached or when a physician determines Soldiers will not be able to return to duty. It is designed to evaluate your medical condition(s) to determine if you do or do not meet the Medical Retention Standards IAW AR 40-501, Chapter 3; it documents your medical condition(s) and duty limitations; and refers you to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), when the findings and recommendations stipulate you do not meet retention standards or when referred by an MOS Medical Retention Board or MMRB. An MEB does not mean you are automatically discharged from military service.
Q4. Is an MEB the same as an MMRB'
A4. No, a reclassification is considered by the MOS/Medical Retention Board (MMRB) for Soldiers with P3 profiles who meet retention standards.
Q5. What is the Physical Performance Evaluation System / Military Medical Retention Board (PPES/MMRB)'
A5. The PPES is designed to evaluate Soldiers with permanent medical conditions through an MMRB, to determine if Soldier can perform satisfactorily in their primary Military Occupational Specialty in a worldwide field environment, and to provide continuity of effort among commanders, physicians, personnel and the Physical Disability Evaluation system. It also allows commanders to evaluate the physical abilities of their Soldiers and determine if referral into the Physical Disability Evaluation System is necessary, with regard to Army Regulation 600-60.
The MMRB is not a "medical board" per se, but an administrative board to determine a Soldier's capacity to serve in their current MOS / AOC under worldwide deployable conditions. Possible outcomes of this board are to retain, reclassify, incur a Trial of Duty, or a Referral to a Medical Evaluation Board.
Q6. Do Soldiers sit in front of a panel of members for the MEB'
A6. No. A Soldier will not sit in front of a panel of board members. The MEB is an informal process comprised of at least two physicians who compile, assess, and evaluate the Soldier's medical history to determine if their duty is affected by their medical status.
Q7. How long does it take to complete a medical board'
A7. Our goal is to complete a Soldier's MEB within 90 days. However, each case is unique and the MEB could take less or more than 90 days to complete.
Q8. What is in the MEB packet'
A8. Medical Data/Documents Created in the
Support of the Soldier's MEB
Aca,!Ac Complete Health Record
Aca,!Ac Personnel/Performance Data
Aca,!Ac Cover sheet (DA Form 3947) - Lists all medical conditions stating
whether you do/do not meet retention standards of AR 40-501, Chapter 3
Aca,!Ac Narrative Summary (NARSUM)
Aca,!Ac Addendum - An addition to the MEB if something was not included in the
Aca,!Ac Consults from clinics visited.
Aca,!Ac Copy of Soldier's Profile.
Aca,!Ac Current History & Physical (DD 2807-1 & 2808).
Q9. Does the Soldier have to complete any forms'
A9. A Soldier must complete the history portion of the forms prior to actual physical exam with their health care provider. When they complete their forms (Complete Blocks 1 - 29 of DD 2807-1 & Complete only Blocks 1-16 of DD 2808), they should address ANY and ALL medical conditions which they have.
Q10. Will I have to see a medical specialist'
A10. If a Soldier's health care provider(s) sees the need for them to be evaluated by another specialty clinic, they will request a consult with that clinic. The Soldiers should notify their MEB counselor or case manager so that the appointment can be scheduled.
Q11. What is a NARSUM or Narrative Summary'
A11. The NARSUM is the heart of the MEB. This comprehensive report, written by the Soldier's health care provider, provides a "word picture" of their condition, history and status. Furthermore, it provides a recommendation, such as Medical Condition "XYZ" is medically unacceptable IAW para 3, AR 40-501 and case is referred to the PEB for further adjudication.
Q12. What all is in my MEB other than the MEB packet'
Aca,!Ac Personnel Certificate is completed by the custodian of your 201 file (PSB)
Aca,!Ac Commander's Evaluation Letter
Aca,!Ac NCOERs/OERs E-5 And above, last 3 if necessary
Aca,!Ac LES - Current End of Month
Aca,!Ac DA Form 4187; name changes, loss of rank, promotions, etc.
Aca,!Ac **RC Soldiers have additional requirements
Q13. How are RC Soldier requirements different'
Aca,!Ac Orders for all active duty periods - where injury/illness incurred
Aca,!Ac Reserves - Chronological Statement of Retirement Points (ARPC 249-2-E) (commonly known as RPAS)
Aca,!Ac National Guard - Retirement Points History Statement (NG Form 23) (commonly known as RPAM)
Aca,!Ac Approved Line of Duty (if necessary)
Aca,!Ac 20 Year Letter if you have one
Q14. Describe the MEB process.
Aca,!Ac The MEB counselor will schedule an initial meeting with the Soldier.
Aca,!Ac The Case Manager will schedule a Physical Examination for the Soldier.
Aca,!Ac The Soldier's MEB counselor will prepare and mail the request for their Commander's Evaluation letter
Aca,!Ac The Soldier will turn in their Health Records to their MEB counselor as soon as possible
Aca,!Ac The Soldier's MEB counselor will refer them to other resources as required (e.g. Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP), Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program, etc.) prior to any separation or retirement
Aca,!Ac After completion of the MEB, the Soldier will be counseled and will review their findings and recommendations
Aca,!Ac The Soldiers can consult with a lawyer from the OSC or some other advocate before signing the MEB.
Aca,!Ac The MEB will only state that the Soldier does or does not meet retention standards IAW AR 40-501, Chapter 3
Aca,!Ac The Soldier will receive a copy of their MEB and supporting documents for their files.
Q15. Is there a way to have an MEB and stay in the Army'
Aca,!Ac Yes, a Soldier can submit a request for Continuation on Active Duty (COAD) or Continuation on Active Reserve Status (COAR).
Aca,!Ac The Soldier's MEB counselor will provide them with specific criteria/details related to requesting this.
Aca,!Ac The Soldier can also obtain information and counseling on COAD/COAR from the OSC.
Aca,!Ac Generally, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command is the approval authority for most requests.
Aca,!Ac G-1 is the disapproval authority for AW2 requests.
Q16. Describe MEB dispositions.
A16. Generally, if a Soldier meets retention standards within the limits of your profile, they are returned to duty in their primary Military Occupational Specialty. If they do not meet retentions standards, their case will be referred to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) for further disposition. If the MEB is a MOS/Medical Retention Board directed the MEB, the Soldier's case is forwarded to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), even though they meet retention standards. If profile is upgraded to P2 and they meet retention standards, they are returned to duty.
Q17. Can Soldiers appeal an MEB'
A17. Yes. If the Soldier disagrees with any portion of your Medical Board, you have the right to appeal that decision. The Soldier has three working days to submit a written appeal stating why/what they disagree with on the MEB. The OSC can assist you with their appeal. The Soldier's written appeal is then submitted to the Deputy Commander for Clinical Services (DCCS) for further consideration and becomes part of the MEB Board.
The DCCS will review the Soldier's appeal and make one of the following recommendations:
-- MEB stands as written
-- Can send back to health care provider for further information
-- Can forward to PEB with attachments or additional notes
Q18. Can I track the MEB process'
A18. Soldiers can track the progress on your MEB via the My MEB Portal on AKO. If they have any questions about the data they see in the My MEB Portal, they can contact their MEB Counselor. My MEB Portal https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/417118.
Q19. Where are physical evaluation boards located'
A19. Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and Washington DC.
Q20. Who are the PEB members'
A-fEoe President or Presiding Officer (generally a Colonel)
A-fEoe Personnel Management Officer (field grade or Civilian Adjudication Officer)
A-fEoe Physician (MC Officer or Civilian, generally with military MC experience)
A-fEoe If service member is Reserve Component (RC), a member will be RC
A-fEoe Request for Enlisted, female, minority may be made:
-- Request should be submitted in writing through MEB Counselor
-- Board expands to 5 members for enlisted representation
-- May be 3 or 5 members for female or minority representation
Q21. What is the PEB process'
A21. The PEB is the only board in the Military that can determine whether a Soldier is fit or unfit for continued Military Service. If found unfit, the PEB will determine whether the unfitting disability is compensable. If compensable, the PEB will determine the disability rating based on the severity of the medical condition. Not every medical condition is given a rating. Only those medical conditions that render a Soldier unfit for further Military Service will be rated.
Once the PEB has rendered a decision, the Soldier's counselor will be notified. The Soldier's MEB counselor will schedule a review and counseling session of the findings and recommendations, usually within 24 hours. The Soldiers is given ten (10) calendar days to concur or non-concur. They can also consult with an attorney from the OSC to determine whether they want to request a formal hearing.
Q22. Describe PEB dispositions.
A22. A Soldier is either declared fit or unfit for duty:
Aca,!Ac Fit for Duty
Aca,!Ac Unfit for Duty
- SWOB ( Separation without disability benefits)
Aca,!Ac Condition was not incurred or permanently aggravated in line of duty.
Aca,!Ac Condition existed prior to service (EPTS) and Soldier has less than eight years of active duty,
Aca,!Ac No disability compensation permitted by law
- SWSP (Separate with severance pay)
Aca,!Ac Rating of 0%-20% and less than 20 YOS
Aca,!Ac Severance pay is the same for a 0%, 10%, and 20% rating
- PDR (Permanent Disability Retirement)
Aca,!Ac Rating of 30% or higher or 20 YOS and condition is stable for rating purposes.
- TDRL (Temporary Disability Retirement List)
Aca,!Ac Rating of 30% or higher or 20 YOS and medical condition is NOT stabilized enough for permanent rating
Aca,!Ac Periodic re-exams every 12 - 18 months
Aca,!Ac Maximum tenure on the TDRL is five years Minimum of 50% pay for TDRL retirement check
Aca,!Ac Disability Compensation: The Soldier's MEB Counselor will show them how to calculate years of service and disability severance and/or retired pay.
Q23. Describe the PEB appeal process.
A23. All Soldiers may appeal their informal PEB findings by submitting a written appeal and/or requesting a formal hearing with or without personal appearance. The Soldier has the right to be represented by an attorney from OSC or by a counsel of choice (civilian - at their own expense) for their formal hearing. The Soldier may also elect to have representation from any of the veterans' organizations, if available. (DAV- Disabled American Veterans) These services are free. A formal PEB will issue new findings, which may be the same as the informal PEB findings or may differ, dependent upon the evidence presented at the formal board.
Q23. What is the Physical Disability Agency'
A23. The Physical Disability Agency (PDA) is a field operating agency of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. It reviews and approves/disapproves findings and recommendations of the PEB. If the PEB findings are approved, PDA issues the retirement/separation authority to your local transition center if the Soldier is on active duty, or issues their orders for members of the RC not on active duty. If the PEB findings are not approved, the PDA may: return cases to the PEB for reconsideration, clarification, further investigation, formal hearing or other action; or issue modified finding which could change Soldier's disability rating and/or disposition. Soldiers have appeal rights (counsel + 10 days to sign). If PDA modifies PEB findings and the Soldier appeals the PDA findings, their case will be forwarded to the USA Physical Disability Appeal Board for a final decision.
Q24. What are the differences between the Army and the VA'
A24. The Army rates only conditions that make the Soldier unfit for duty; Compensation is determined by years of service and basic pay. The VA may rate any service-connected impairment and will base the rating on their independent evaluation; ratings may change over time as the veteran's condition changes; compensation is a flat amount based upon the rating percentage. Soldiers are encouraged to file a claim with the VA - benefits are not automatic.
Q25. Is the MEB/PEB process confidential'
A25. The Soldier's medical board is personal and private. Limited information may be provided to the Soldier's unit such as the fact that they are undergoing disability processing; where they are in the board process and whether they were found fit or unfit. Family members do not have automatic access to their Soldier's medical records/board status without the Soldier's written permission. The Soldier should keep everyone concerned informed.
Q26. How can I make this as painless as possible'
A26. Do not miss appointments. Be on time, with your ID card, in the appropriate uniform, and have medical records in hand. No-shows for medical appointments will be reported to your commander and can delay your medical board proceedings. Always provide accurate phone numbers. If a Soldier changes units or assignments, they should let their MEB Counselor know. Soldiers should contact their MEB counselor prior to departing the area.
Be informed. Ask questions. Ask how long each step should take and follow-up. This is your career and your board. Take the time to review all documents for accuracy. Provide accurate and timely information. The Soldier is the key to your board. If a Soldier does not understand something, they should not be afraid to ask questions.
Q27. Please describe the DoD/VA pilot program.
A27. Under the pilot program, which is currently operating only for Soldiers undergoing MEBs at Walter Reed AMC, the MEB includes a physical conducted by the VA rather than by a military practitioner. When the MEB is sent to the PEB, the PEB identifies each condition that renders the Soldier unfit but does not rate these conditions. The case is sent to a VA rating board, which rates ALL conditions identified by the VA physical. This constitutes the Soldier's VA rating. The PEB then uses the VA ratings for the conditions previously determined to be unfitting to determine the Soldier's overall military disability rating and what disposition (separate with severance pay, place on TDRL, etc) is appropriate.
Q28. Are the results of the Army / VA pilot program promising'
A28. It is too early to tell the results of the pilot program. More information will be forthcoming when it is available.
Q29. How long will the pilot program last and what exactly is DoD seeking to do with the advent of this pilot program'
A29. The pilot will last for one year and may be expanded to other locations during that period. The pilot combines the military and VA systems and will test an enhanced process designed to deliver faster, more consistent disability evaluations and compensation to wounded, ill, and injured service members and families.
Q30. Why is the PDES system so hard to understand and to navigate'
A30. The PDES system is governed by a series of laws designed to maintain fitness of the force and ensuring all injured/ill service members receive full due process and appropriate compensation. It may seem complex, but there are plenty of experienced and expert advisors available to guide all Soldiers through the process at each step
Q31. Should I hire a civilian attorney if going for a formal PEB'
A31. That is a matter of personal choice. Soldiers should be aware that disability law and medicine is a complex field, and the best representation can usually be provided by an experienced disability attorney. There are trained lawyers at each of the PEB sites and at various other locations with large troop concentrations that can provide able assistance to Soldiers processing through the PDES.
Q32. What happens if my injury is not incurred in combat' Are the steps different and is the outcome different'
A32. The process is the same. There are some benefits available to Soldiers with combat-related injuries that are not available to those with conditions that did not result from combat. One of the responsibilities of the PEB is to determine what conditions meet the combat-related criteria.
Q33. If my injury is determined to be "not line of duty," what happens next'
A33. The PEB still makes a determination of fitness. If the Soldier is found to be unfit and the injury was not incurred in the line of duty, the Soldier is separated for disability but does not receive any disability benefits or compensation from the Army for that injury.
Q34. How long does the entire process, from MEB determination thru to end of formal PEB, take for a final decision'
A34. The period of time varies depending upon the complexity of the case and the options selected by the Soldier. Normally, from initiation of the MEB through approval of the PEB findings takes 4-5 months.
Q35. How does the VA work with the Army to determine their VA disability rating'
A35. The VA makes its own disability decisions and ratings. Other than the pilot program mentioned above, the VA and Army processes are separate.
Q36. Why does the Army rating differ from the VA rating in terms of percent disability'
A36. There can be several reasons. One is that the VA may rate conditions that the Army did not rate (because they were not conditions). Another reason is that conditions can change (improve or worsen) over time and often the VA examinations and ratings occur months or even years after the Army ratings.