Unfit for Duty

Topics:

Unfit for Duty
Multiple Conditions
How Conditions are Judged Unfitting
Conditions That Are Unfitting But Not Ratable

Unfit for Duty

The DoD will only give Military Disability Ratings, and thus Military Disability Benefits, for conditions that make a service member unfit for duty.

Unfit for duty means that the service member is unable to perform the duties of their office, grade or rank, including, but not limited to:

  • perform their job requirements
  • fulfill their military responsibilities
  • meet their physical fitness requirements
  • be deployed
  • wear their equipment and gear
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Multiple Conditions

If a service member has multiple conditions, each one must be unfitting in and of itself in order to be rated. To determine this, each condition is looked at as though it were the only condition they had. All by itself, does it still make them unfit for duty? If yes, then it is ratable. If no, then it is not.

There is an exception to this rule: If the service member has multiple conditions, and none of them are unfitting by themselves, but all together they make them unfit for duty, then they all are collectively considered unfitting, and thus can all be rated.

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How Conditions are Judged Unfitting

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) begins when a service member develops a condition that may make them unfit for duty.

The Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) first reviews all of the service member’s conditions and determines which of them are medically acceptable/unacceptable. Medically unacceptable conditions are ones that do not meet the branch’s standards of fitness. All medically unacceptable conditions are then forwarded to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).

The PEB then reviews the service member’s conditions and determines which, if any, make them unfit for duty. The PEB relies heavily on the medical acceptability determinations of the MEB, but it is not unusual to have the PEB’s decisions contrast with the MEB’s decisions. This is because the MEB only looks at the condition and the standards of fitness, while the PEB looks at how the condition actually affects the service member’s ability to do their job.

For example, let’s say that there are two service members with the exact same condition: amputation of the thumb. One service member is a cannon crewman, and the other is an intelligence analyst. The amputation of the thumb will always be judged by the MEB as medically unacceptable since it does not meet the standards of fitness. For the cannon crewman, the PEB will most likely judge the condition unfitting since it would be very difficult for them to perform their job. For the intelligence analyst, however, the PEB could judge their condition fitting since they could still perform many of their job requirements.

Note: It is standard practice for the military to keep a service member that does not meet the standards of fitness on active duty ONLY if they can perform their job requirements AND can still contribute to the mission.

To determine if the service member’s conditions are unfitting, the PEB looks at all the pertinent evidence that is submitted to them. The most important evidence for the PEB is medical records and the statement from the service member’s commander on their ability to perform their duties.

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Conditions That Are Unfitting But Not Ratable

A judgment of unfitting is not the end-all-be-all. While this is an essential rule for DoD Disability, it does not pre-empt all the other rules about conditions that are and are not eligible to receive a Military Disability Rating.

All EPTS conditions and the conditions on our Conditions That Are Not Ratable page are still not ratable, even if they are unfitting.

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