The Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)


How a Service Member is Placed on Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)
During and After Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)

Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) is more of a state of being than an actual list. When an active duty service member cannot perform their duty requirements for a medical reason, they begin the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process and either returns to full duty, leaves the military, or is put on TDRL.   

A service member is placed on TDRL only if their condition is not stable, they have a Total Combined Military Disability Rating of 30% or higher, and there is a chance that they could improve enough to return to full duty or seriously worsen within the next three years.

Any service member rated 80% or higher whose conditions are not expected to improve in the next three years will be medically retired instead of being placed on TDRL.

How a Service Member is Placed on Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)

A service member is put on the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) after developing an unfitting condition that could improve.

Only the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) can place a service member on Temporary Disability Retired List. The PEB is the final board in the DoD Disability Process before a service member is separated from the military.

In the past, TDRL was fairly rare since the DoD would seldom start the disability process before a condition was mostly stable. Now, however, the military requires that the service member return to full duty within one year of being diagnosed with a condition that may makes them Unfit for Duty. If the service member’s physician feels that the condition will not improve enough in that time, they are required to start the disability process by referring them to the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.

For example, Sally is diagnosed with cancer. Her doctor says she should just need a simple surgery, and then she should be fine within a month or so. While she won’t be able to perform her job during that time, the DoD will not start the disability process since she should be back and going fairly quickly. If, however, the doctor thought she would be able to be cured of cancer, but it would take a year of intensive treatments during which time she wouldn’t be able to work at all, the DoD would be much more likely to start the disability process and put her on TDRL.   

There are some conditions that could benefit from being on TDRL. For example, a torn rotator cuff patient might be struggling to keep up physically in the military, but a period of treatment and healing without the pressures of a military environment might allow the service member’s condition to improve enough for them to return to full duty.   

A service member might also be placed on TDRL if it is clear that their condition is not stable and may get worse. The DoD only gives a permanent Military Disability Rating for the severity of the condition at the time of separation. If they are separated when it is not severe, they will get a lower rating than if they are separated when it is more severe. In this case, by putting them on TDRL and then officially separating them once the condition is stable, the DoD is better able to give them a rating that will more accurately reflect the long-term effects of their condition. This is often the case with Mental Disorders, like PTSD.   

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During and After Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)

When on TDRL, it is as though the service member is medically retired from the military. They do not perform any military duties, are given a temporary Military Disability Rating of at least 50%, and receive full Military Disability Benefits from the DoD and the VA.   

During the TDRL period, the service member must be occasionally re-evaluated (generally every 18 months) to determine the progress of their condition and have their disability ratings updated to reflect any changes in their condition.

If there is not enough current medical evidence on file to perform the re-evaluation, then the service member will be called in for an examination. If the service member does not show up to the examination, their benefits will be stopped until they report. If they do not report before the end of their three-year TDRL period, then they will be separated without benefits. 

If new conditions are diagnosed during the TDRL period, they will qualify for DoD Disability only if they are unfitting and they are the direct result of one of the TDRL conditions. All other new conditions will not qualify for DoD Disability, but may qualify for VA Disability. 

If the condition improves enough during TDRL, the PEB may find the condition no longer unfitting. In that case, the service member can choose to either return to full active duty or permanently retire from the military. If they choose to return to full duty, all DoD disability benefits they were receiving during TDRL will stop.

If the service member chooses to permanently retire or if the condition worsens, or at least does not improve, and becomes relatively stable, the PEB will medically retire or medically separate the service member with a permanent Military Disability Rating based on the severity of their condition at that time.

All Temporary Disability Retired List cases will receive a permanent rating based only on the VASRD criteria that is in effect at the end of the TDRL period.   

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What is the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)?

The Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) will choose to put a service-member on the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) instead of medically separating them if they feel that their conditions could improve enough to return the member to active duty within three years.

What happens while I'm on TDRL?

When you are put on TDRL, you are effectively medically retired from the military and eligible to receive medical retirement benefits with a minimum 50% rating. You are also eligible to apply for and receive benefits from the VA. The DoD will monitor your conditions during this time.

What happens if my condition improves while on TDRL?

If your condition improves enough that it is no longer unfitting, the PEB will return you to full active duty. All veteran benefits will stop once returned to active duty.

How long will I be on TDRL?

TDRL can last for a maximum of 5 years. If the condition improves enough to return to duty during that time, it could end much earlier. If, however, the condition has not improved at the end of the 5 years, you'll be officially and fully separated.

Can I request to be put on the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL)?

No. You can discuss starting the MEB process with your physician, but only the PEB can decide whether or not your case qualifies for separation, return to duty, or TDRL.

How much money will I get while on TDRL?

While on TDRL, you will be assigned a minimum rating of 50%. If your conditions qualify for a higher rating, though, you can receive higher compensation. The exact rate of compensation will depend on your rating and whether or not you have dependents. Current rates can be found on our VA Disability Chart.

Do I have to return to active duty?

No. If the PEB determines that your conditions are no longer unfitting, you will not qualify for a medical retirement, but you can choose instead to undergo a regular separation/retirement.

What's the difference between TDRL and PDRL?

The Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) is only for service-members with medical conditions that could improve for a return to active duty. The Permanent Disability Retired List (PDRL) is for service-members with medical conditions that are not expected to improve enough to return them to active duty. Those on PDRL are permanently and fully separated from the military.

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