On this site, we use the term “Rating Authorities” to refer to the people who make the rating decisions for Military Disability.
Throughout your military disability journey, you’ll hear other terms like “claim processors,” “adjudicators,” “raters,” etc., but since we cover both of the DoD and VA systems and numerous special boards, like the PDBR, we needed a general term to describe anyone assigning the actual disability ratings, regardless of their affiliation.
Rating Authorities are individual caseworkers who are assigned to review each claim or appeal.
The VA’s Rating Authorities
For the VA, each VA Disability Claim is reviewed by a claims processor. As the VA’s front-line Rating Authorities, the claims processors use the VASRD and case precedent to assign ratings to each condition claimed. If a veteran does not agree with these ratings, they can submit an appeal, and higher level authorities, like the BVA, will then review their case.
The DoD’s Rating Authorities
Before 2009, the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) acted as the DoD’s Rating Authorities. They assigned ratings to conditions based on each branch’s own rating system (not the VASRD), but this caused inconsistencies within the military disability system with people in different branches with the same condition receiving different ratings.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System essentially got rid of the DoD’s Rating Authorities. Now, the VA’s authorities make the rating decisions, and the DoD “borrows” and uses those ratings as their own.