When a service member sustains injuries while on active duty and is judged by a physician that he or she does not meet retention standards, the injured service member is referred to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), thus triggering the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). The purpose of IDES is to help injured veterans receive disability benefits more quickly by streamlining the process, allowing the DoD Disability and VA Disability programs to process simultaneously. However, the process contains multiple steps and can still be confusing.
The IDES process
If you are referred to the MEB, your next step is to get a compensation and pension (C&P) exam. The physician then completes a Narrative Summary report (NARSUM), summarizing all your medical history from the beginning of service to the present, including the C&P exam. At this point, you may also submit a Commander’s Statement and a Personal Statement. Submitting the appropriate documentation at this point is critical, so the MEB has a full and accurate picture of your condition.
The members of the MEB, which consists of at least two medical doctors, will review the documentation and determine which of the following applies:
- you are still fit for duty in your existing capacity
- you should return to duty in a different occupational specialty
- you do not meet retention status and are unfit for duty
If the MEB determines points 2 or 3, the case will be sent to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). This step is technically the Informal PEB (IPEB), but it’s usually just called PEB and it will evaluate and determine:
- Whether the injury or condition is combat or service-related
- Fitness or unfitness for duty
- Eligibility for DoD disability
- If unfit, the case is forwarded to the VA for Disability rating
What if you disagree with the decision?
You may disagree with the decision or the rating that has been determined by the PEB. If so, you can appeal to the Formal PEB (FPEB), which will review your case. You have the chance to present your evidence in person if you so desire. If you disagree with the VA rating decision, you can submit for reconsideration.
The documentation you present at each step of the way, to the MEB, the IPEB, and the FPEB, has a significant impact on the outcome of each board’s review. Further, your condition may continue to deteriorate while the IDES process is going on, which will require supplementary documentation to be submitted.
The decisions these boards make will have a huge impact on you and your family. If you are confused about the process, or if you have received an unsatisfactory decision from any of these boards, contact us at the Law Office of Robert. B. Goss, Veterans Attorney, to see how we can help you.