On this site, we use the term “Rating Authorities” to refer to the people who make the rating decisions for Military Disability. You’ll hear other terms like “claim processors,” “adjudicators,” “raters,” etc., but since we cover both DoD and VA systems and numerous special boards, like the PDBR, we needed a general term to describe anyone assigning the actual rating, regardless of their affiliation.
All Rating Authorities are required to use the laws of the VASRD to assign Military Disability Ratings to conditions.
Rating Authorities are individual caseworkers who are assigned to review each claim or appeal.
Before 2009, the DoD had their own Rating Authorities as part of the PEB that assigned ratings based on each branch’s own rating system, but this caused inconsistencies within the military disability system. To fix this problem, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System was set up to streamline the disability rating process by merging the DoD Disability Process with the VA Disability Process.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System got rid of the DoD’s Rating Authorities. Now, the VA’s Rating Authorities make the rating decisions, and the DoD “borrows” and uses those ratings as their own.
The only time the DoD makes any rating decisions separate from the VA is when a service member is placed on TDRL. This occurs when a service member has a condition that makes them Unfit for Duty but is expected to improve or worsen significantly within the next 5 years.
When on TDRL, the initial rating decision is made by the VA’s Rating Authorities. After that, however, the DoD will regularly review the conditions during the TDRL period, and the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) will become the DoD’s Rating Authorities, updating the service member’s ratings to reflect any changes in their conditions.
If a veteran disagrees with the Rating Authorities’ decisions, they can submit appeals to higher rating authorities that sit on various Boards. See our DoD Appeals and VA Appeals pages for a complete description of the appeals processes.