The Integrated Disability Evaluation System
When a service member develops a medical condition that makes them unable to perform their duties in the military, they are referred to the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System was developed in 2009 to bridge the gap between the DoD Disability Process and the VA Disability Process. The goal of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System is to simplify the entire Military Disability process by having the VA and the DoD work together and share information.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System is only used for service members who have conditions that make them unable to perform their military duties, and thus qualify for DoD Disability. All veterans who do not qualify for DoD Disability may still be eligible to receive VA Disability. They still need to go through the VA Disability Process, but not as part of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
Below, we give the steps of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System with a basic discussion of each of the steps. For more in-depth details of each part, click on the links throughout the discussion.
Do note that the time frames listed below are ONLY estimated goals given by the departments and do not always reflect actual wait times. Actual wait times depend on the completeness of the claim submitted, the amount of claims being processed in that office at that time, etc. Some are processed faster, some slower.
Step 1: Referral. When a service member develops a medical condition that their physician believes will not heal enough for them to be able to return to full duty within one year, they are referred to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), begin the MEB Process, and are assigned a DoD PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer) and a VA Military Services Coordinator (MSC) to assist them throughout the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
Step 2: VA Claim. After the service member is referred to the MEB, their MSC helps them submit a VA Disability Claim.
Step 3: C&P Exam. Once the VA Disability Claim is submitted, the service member goes to the VA for C&P Exam(s).
Step 4: MEB. At this point in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process, the results from the C&P Exam are returned to the PEBLO, and the service member’s physician writes a report (called a “Narrative Summary” or “NARSUM”). This report summarizes the history of the service member’s medical conditions from their beginning up through the C&P Exam. The NARSUM is then submitted to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), and the MEB determines the medical acceptability of each of the service member’s conditions. The MEB then forwards its decisions to the PEB, and the MEB Process ends.
Step 5: PEB. Once the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) receives the MEB’s decision, the PEB Process begins. The PEB determines which of the service member’s conditions qualify for DoD Disability. To qualify, conditions must be Service-Connected and make the service member Unfit for Duty.
Step 6: VA Rating. Once the PEB determines which conditions make the service member Unfit for Duty, they send their decision to the VA. There must be at least one unfitting condition for the case to continue. If none of the conditions are unfitting, then the service member is returned to duty, and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process ends.
If the case is forwarded to the VA, then the VA assigns a Military Disability Rating to every service-connected condition the service member has. The VA is the official Rating Authority for both VA Disability and DoD Disability.
Step 7: PEB Decision. Once the VA’s Rating Decision is made, it is sent back to the PEB. The PEB uses the VA’s ratings as the official ratings for DoD Disability for the service member’s unfitting conditions (reminder: the DoD only gives disability for conditions that make a service member Unfit for Duty).
Step 8: Service-Member Decision. The PEB’s decision is sent to the PEBLO who then discusses it with the service member. The service member then has the chance to accept it or request a Formal PEB.
Step 9: FPEB Appeal. If the service member doesn’t agree with the PEB’s decision of which conditions are unfitting, they can appeal to have the Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB) review their case. The FPEB then makes a final decision on the unfitting conditions.
Step 10: VA Reconsideration. If the service member does not agree with the VA’s Rating Decision, they can submit for reconsideration. The VA will re-examine the case and make a final rating decision. The FPEB will then apply the updated VA ratings, finalize their decision, and end the PEB Process.
Step 11: Transition. Once all decisions are final, the PEB then either puts the service member on TDRL or separates the service member from the military.
Step 12: VA Rating Decision. Thirty days after the service member is separated from the military, the VA officially publishes its Rating Decision, and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process ends.
That’s it. The Integrated Disability Evaluation System definitely saves the veteran time and effort by allowing both systems to be processed simultaneously with less hassle. The Integrated Disability Evaluation System also allows the veteran to receive both DoD Disability and VA Disability within 1 month of separating from the military, thus ensuring that veterans are receiving their essential compensation as soon as possible.