The DoD Disability Process


The C&P Exam
The Medical Evaluation Board
The Physical Evaluation Board
After the Physical Evaluation Board
Preparing for the DoD Disability Process

When a service member develops a medical condition that may make them Unfit for Duty, they begin the DoD Disability Process. The goal of the DoD Disability Process is to determine (1) if a service member’s conditions qualify for DoD Disability, and (2) if at least one condition does qualify, the exact type and amount of Military Disability Benefits the service member will receive.

DoD Disability Process

In 2009, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System was created to combine the DoD Disability Process and the VA Disability Process to make both processes much faster and easier for the service member. Because of this, the DoD Disability Process is now so closely tied to the VA Disability Process that it cannot be entirely separated.

Here we discuss all the steps necessary to receive DoD Disability.

PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer) is assigned to every service member to guide and assist them throughout the DoD Disability Process.

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In order for the DoD Disability Process to begin, a service member must first be referred to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) by a military physician. A service member who feels that their medical conditions make them Unfit for Duty can speak with their military physician and request for a referral to be made. If the physician agrees, they will officially make the referral.

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The C&P Exam

After the referral, the first step in the DoD Disability Process is the C&P Exam that is performed by the VA. DoD Disability is assigned based on the severity of the condition at separation, so the C&P Exam is very important to DoD Disability since it is the exam closest to the date of separation.

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The Medical Evaluation Board

The second step in the DoD Disability Process is the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB). This phase is referred to as the MEB Process.

The MEB reviews all the evidence of a case, including the results of the C&P Exam, and submits a report to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).

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The Physical Evaluation Board

The third step in the DoD Disability Process is the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). This phase is referred to as the PEB Process.

The PEB has the authority to decide if a service member’s conditions qualify for DoD Disability. For a condition to qualify, it must meet the requirements for Unfit for Duty and Service-Connection.

Once the PEB makes its decision, either the service member is returned to full duty (if none of their conditions make them Unfit for Duty), or their unfitting conditions are forwarded to the VA to be assigned Military Disability Ratings.  

The PEB then uses the VA’s ratings for the conditions that qualify for DoD Disability. If the service member agrees with the PEB’s decision, they are then either placed on TDRL (if their conditions are unstable) or separated from the military.

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After the Physical Evaluation Board

After the PEB publishes its decision, the service member has the right to appeal if they do not agree with it.

The first appeal is sent to the next step in the DoD Disability Process: The Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB).

Once the FPEB makes its final decision, the DoD Disability Process technically ends, and the service member either leaves the military, is placed on TDRL, or is returned to duty—whatever the FPEB decides.

Although the DoD Disability Process is now over, if the service member disagrees with the FPEB’s decision, they can submit an appeal to other higher authorities. The Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) can also review and update the disability cases of service members who left the military between 2001 and 2009.

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Preparing for the DoD Disability Process

What is by far the number one most important thing you need for the DoD Disability Process? DOCUMENTATION!   

All Military Disability decisions are based entirely on the evidence that is submitted at the start of the DoD Disability Process. It is vital, therefore, that you properly compile all the essential information needed to ensure that your case is correctly judged and that your conditions are given the most accurate Military Disability Ratings possible. Additional evidence can be submitted after the DoD Disability Process begins, but it will most likely delay the entire process.

Here is a list of necessary evidence that must be submitted to the MEB:

  • A medical summary from your physician (called a “Narrative Summary” or “NARSUM”)
  • A statement from your commander that notes how your medical conditions affect your ability to do your job
  • A personal statement (this isn’t required but may be submitted if you feel that there is additional information that was left out by your physician or commander, or if you disagree with anything they say)
  • All medical records that document important evidence about your conditions

To understand what evidence the VA needs in order to properly rate your conditions, Find Your Conditions on our site. You can then ensure that this information is included somewhere in the evidence that is submitted.

For example, if you have a wrist injury, you’ll find on our site that most wrist conditions are rated on limited motion. It is vital, then, that the C&P Exam physician clearly records your exact range of motion measurements for your wrist. It is not enough for them to say that the wrist’s motion is limited. The VA must have the measurements in order to rate the condition.

Be proactive to ensure that your DoD Disability Process goes smoothly.

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How long does the DoD Disability Process take?

The DoD Disability Process usually takes 3-6 months from referral to separation.

Am I eligible for DoD Disability?

You are eligible for disability benefits from the DoD if you have one or more medical conditions caused by your military service (service-connected) that also make you Unfit for Duty.

How do I apply for DoD Disability?

You actually do not apply for DoD Disability, but are instead referred to the Medical Evaluation Board by your military physician. This starts the DoD Disability Process.

If I qualify for DoD Disability, what benefits will I receive?

The benefits will depend on your rating. If you are rated 20% or less, you will receive a one-time separation payment. If you are rated 30% or more, you will be considered medically retired and receive retirement benefits.

How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?

You will receive your first payment within 1-2 months after discharge.

What is the Medical Evaluation Board?

The Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) is the first board in the DoD Disability Process. They review your conditions and forward the conditions they feel make you Unfit for Duty on to the Physical Evaluation Board for rating.

What is the Physical Evaluation Board?

The Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) is the final Board in the DoD Disability Process. The PEB reviews your conditions and makes the final determination on which conditions make you Unfit for Duty and assign them ratings.

What if I don't agree with the PEB's decision?

You have the right to appeal to PEB's decision. Your case will then be reviewed by the Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB).

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