In order to receive DoD Disability, you need to go through the medical discharge process, during which the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) and Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) determine whether your conditions are service-connected and whether they make you Unfit for Duty. They then assign VA ratings to each of your conditions that qualify. Depending on their decisions, you are either returned to duty, placed on TDRL, medically separated, or medically retired.
If you have carefully reviewed our site and feel that your case was not determined correctly during the DoD Disability Process, you can submit a DoD Appeal.
Preparing to Submit a DoD Appeal
Preparation is essential when submitting a DoD Appeal.
While you should have already submitted all of your evidence at the beginning of the DoD Disability Process, let’s make sure that you have ALL of the necessary documentation to win your appeal.
First, gather every medical document from all military, VA, and civilian providers. You will also need all of your service records, including deployment records, incident records, etc., especially if they directly relate to the specific issue you are appealing.
Next, make sure to gather all documents that in any way relate to your Military Disability case. This includes any and all correspondence between you and the various Boards or agencies regarding your case. For example, if you are applying to the Board for Correction of Naval Records, they will need all records and correspondence from all lesser Navy Boards (the Physical Evaluation Board and the Formal Physical Evaluation Board). Each level of DoD Appeals must be properly passed through before higher boards will even consider your case.
All of these records alone may be enough to support your DoD Appeal if they clearly and correctly address the issue at hand. However, you may want to obtain additional evidence from witnesses, especially if you are appealing an Unfit for Duty determination.
In these cases, get signed testimonies from witnesses about your condition and how it impacted your military career. The most powerful witnesses are commanding officers.
Your commander should have submitted a statement at the start of the DoD Disability Process about how your conditions affected your ability to do your job. If you have this, definitely include it. Testimonies from other people, like fellow service members and family members, can also be submitted.
Since the DoD only gives benefits based on the severity of the conditions at the time of separation, you really only need to submit the pertinent documents from before separation. If you have evidence from after separation, it can be submitted, but only if it sheds light on the issues in effect at the time of separation.
Most post-separation evidence will not be used at all. Be very careful when submitting evidence from after separation with your DoD Appeal. If it doesn’t give important evidence about the condition at the time of separation, it will probably just end up annoying the Board (more paper to sort through—not fun, believe us).
Gathering the correct documentation is the most ESSENTIAL step when submitting a DoD Appeal. If you do not have the proper evidence to support your case, then submitting a DoD Appeal would just be a waste of time. Make sure to fully understand the reason for the original decision so you can properly organize your DoD appeal to directly address and correct the error.
Once you have all the appropriate documentation, you are ready to submit your DoD Appeal.
WARNING: Don’t ever send the original copies of your records unless they are specifically asked for. These records are the basis of your entire disability case, and you can’t afford the hassle of losing anything. Always keep the originals and submit copies of everything.
Note: We’ve listed below only the levels of DoD appeals within the DoD itself. A case can be appealed in federal courts after these DoD appeals have been attempted, but we don’t recommend doing so without a lawyer.
Submitting a DoD Appeal
The DoD Disability Process has 2 levels of DoD Appeals.
Level 1 of DoD Appeals.
After the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) makes its decision, you have to sign a form that states whether or not you agree with the decision. If you do not agree, you can choose to appeal to the Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB) to have the decision reconsidered.
If you chose not to appeal to the FPEB and instead agreed with the PEB’s decision, then you’ve missed out on your chance to appeal to the FPEB. After discharge, however, you can still submit an appeal to Level 2 of DoD Appeals.
If you did appeal to the FPEB, but still do not agree with the decision, you can submit a rebuttal. If the rebuttal does not get the results you want, then you can appeal to Level 2 of DoD Appeals (or Level 1a for the Army).
Level 1a of DoD Appeals.
Only the Army and Navy/Marines have options at this level of DoD Appeals.
For the Army, there are two steps at this level of DoD Appeals.
The United States Army Physical Disability Agency (USAPDA) reviews every IPEB or FPEB case in which the soldier disagrees with the decision and waives a formal hearing. If the USAPDA decides that the PEB misjudged the case, it sends it back to the PEB for reconsideration. The PEB and USAPDA then go back and forth until the USAPDA approves of the PEB’s decision.
Once the USAPDA approves, the soldier can submit a rebuttal if they still do not agree. If the USAPDA does not revise its decision, the case is then sent on to the Army Physical Disability Appeal Board (APDAB). The APDAB then reviews the case to determine (1) if the soldier received a full and fair hearing, (2) if the proceedings were in line with the laws and regulations, and (3) if the rating decisions were supported by the evidence.
If the soldier does not agree with the APDAB’s decision, they can then appeal to Level 2 of DoD Appeals.
For the Navy and Marines, once the FPEB’s decision is final, but before the service member is officially discharged, they can submit a Petition for Relief (PFR) to the Director, Naval Council of Personnel Boards (DIRNCPB).
NOTE: This can only be done BEFORE discharge. If the service member is separated without submitting a PFR, they simply skip this step and appeal in Level 2.
A PFR can only be submitted if (1) there is new evidence that was not considered by the PEB, (2) there is proof that fraud, misconduct, or misrepresentation occurred during the PEB Process, or (3) there was a definite mistake of the law during the PEB Process.
If the PFR is not granted, then the service member is officially discharged, and they can move to Level 2 of DoD Appeals.
Level 2 of DoD Appeals.
Note: If you qualify to have your case reviewed by the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR), you may not need to appeal to any other Board. If you do not qualify, or have issues outside the PDBR’s authority, you can move on to Level 2 of DoD Appeals.
This is the highest level of appeal within the DoD. Each branch of the military has their own Boards to appeal to at this level.
For the Coast Guard, you can apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records of the Coast Guard by mailing DD Form 149 to the address noted on the form.
For the Army, there are two different groups that you can submit a DoD Appeal to depending on the exact circumstances of your case.
– The Army Physical Disability Review Board (APDRB). You can apply to this Board if (1) you were separated from the military because of a medical disability within the past 15 years, and (2) the PEB’s Rating Decision did not entitle you to receive any compensation at all. Basically, you had to leave the military because of a medical condition, but the condition did not rate higher than 0% and so you have gotten nothing from the DoD for that condition.
After applying, this Board will not only review your case, but will also allow you to appear before them to argue your case with legal representation (if you want) and any witnesses you would like to testify.
To apply, you must write a letter stating the following information:
– Your full name
– Your rank
– Your contact information
– Your social security number
– Any and all reasons why you think you deserve a higher rating for your condition (If you’ve found your condition on this site and know that you have proof in your medical records that your condition qualifies for a higher rating, this part should be easy to write.)
– The contact info for your legal representative (If you want one. Our goal with this website is to give you the tools you need to do this yourself, but some cases are complicated enough that legal help would still be a good idea. It’s up to you.)
– The contact info for any witnesses you’d like to testify (Not necessary if you already have sufficient evidence, but strong witnesses can definitely be helpful in many cases.)
Refer to our APDRB Sample Letter for help. In addition to the letter, include a copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214), and all your supporting evidence.
Mail all of the above to:
Army Review Boards Agency
251 18th Street South, Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3531
– The Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR). This Army Board is the highest authority for all Army disability decisions. Only apply to this Board if (1) none of the other Boards have been able to satisfactorily fix your PEB decision, (2) you are unable to apply to any other Board, or (3) there is a clear error in your military records. Whatever this Board decides is the end-all-be-all for Army disability, so make sure to prepare your case carefully and completely.
To apply, mail DD Form 149 and all supporting materials to the address noted on the form. In addition to all medical records and other supporting materials discussed in the How to Prepare section above, make sure you also include copies of all correspondence with any Boards or individuals regarding your disability case. The ABCMR will only review your case if they see that you’ve tried everything else first before coming to them.
DoD Appeals FAQs
What do I do if the PEB made a mistake on my DoD Disability?
If the PEB makes a mistake or if you do not agree with their decision, you can appeal and have your case reviewed by the Formal Physical Evaluation Board.
What are DoD Appeals?
There are two levels of DoD Appeals. The first allows service members to appeal to the Formal Physical Evaluation Board if they disagree with the Physical Evaluation Board's decision. The second allows veterans to appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records of their branch after they are officially discharged from the military.
How do I submit my DoD Appeal?
To appeal to the Formal Physical Evaluation Board, you need to submit a Notice of Disagreement once you receive the PEB's decision. If you have already been discharged, then you will need to submit an application to the Board for Correction of Military Records of your branch.
When can I submit DoD appeals?
The DoD appeals system has very strict deadlines. After the PEB makes their decision, you have 6 days to either agree with it or appeal to the FPEB. If you have already been discharged, you can appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records of your branch, but each Board has different time limits you must meet.
How long does it take the FPEB to process my appeal?
The FPEB will review your appeal within 24 days.
What do I do if my appeal is denied?
If your appeal to the FPEB is denied, then you will be discharged. Once you are a veteran, however, you can then appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records of your branch. If the BCMR denies your appeal, then the decision is final unless you can submit new pertinent evidence to support another appeal.
How can I check on the status of my appeal?
The only way to check on the status of your appeal to the BCMR is to contact their office directly.