Back Issues and MEB Process

scottstu

Registered Member
#1
I've been in for almost 5.5 years as of March 2018, Active Duty for a year and a half, the other 4 were in the Reserves. I currently have 4 bulging discs T4-5, T5-6, T6-7 and T7-8 w/degenerative disc disease and have been on profile for 9 months. Currently have to walk hunched over to relieve the pressure in my back, hurts to drive, I sleep on my couch as it's the most comfortable place to lay and multiple times a day I need to lay on the ground to relieve the pressure and pain on my back. Essentially, I do the bare minimum on the weekends, but lay on my couch, do to the pain. I've been through realignments, physical therapy, been given arthritis meds and now I'm starting pain management, and my second round of physical therapy. My PCM and Ortho have been talking more and more about a MEB. So with this information, I was wondering how the process has gone for people with back issues?
 

chaplaincharlie

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#2
Ratings for restricted range and/or ratings for affected nerve groups are how backs are usually rated. You can read the law on back rating here:
https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-i...&rgn=div5&view=text&node=38:1.0.1.1.5&idno=38


Range of motion, is often disputed. Some docs rate the ROM vary carefully using a goniometer and others swag it. If you get a bad swag you can requested a VARR (one time re-rating exam).
 

Warrior644

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#3
I've been in for almost 5.5 years as of March 2018, Active Duty for a year and a half, the other 4 were in the Reserves. I currently have 4 bulging discs T4-5, T5-6, T6-7 and T7-8 w/degenerative disc disease and have been on profile for 9 months. Currently have to walk hunched over to relieve the pressure in my back, hurts to drive, I sleep on my couch as it's the most comfortable place to lay and multiple times a day I need to lay on the ground to relieve the pressure and pain on my back. Essentially, I do the bare minimum on the weekends, but lay on my couch, do to the pain. I've been through realignments, physical therapy, been given arthritis meds and now I'm starting pain management, and my second round of physical therapy. My PCM and Ortho have been talking more and more about a MEB. So with this information, I was wondering how the process has gone for people with back issues?
Welcome to the PEB Forum! :)

From an U.S. Army perspective, I was referred with acceptance into the DoD IDES MEB/PEB process while on military active duty for two medical conditions in 2012. One medical condition was due to the residual physical complications/symptomology from an ALIF L4-5 thoracolumbar spine fusion surgery in 2011. Albeit, I dealt with this thoracolumbar spine injury since an OIF combat duty tour from 2004-2005. Prior to the thoracolumbar spine fusion surgery, I participated in physical therapy, pain management, and other medical treatments which were all unsuccessful in resolving my thoracolumbar spine issues.

Per the findings of the MEB, my "Herniated Lumbar Disc with Subjective Radiculopathy" medical condition was determined to be "medically unacceptable" to include a "medically unacceptable" determination for the other MEB-referred medical condition. Upon review by the PEB, both MEB-referred medical conditions were determined to be "unfit for duty" and my IDES case file was forwarded to the DoVA D-RAS for DoVA ratings adjudication.

In short, the DoVA D-RAS adjudicated a VA 20% rating for my thoracolumbar spine medical condition and the DoD (Army) was required to adopt that disability rating; they did yielding a DoD 20% rating. Due to the worsening of symptomology (e.g., range of motion) as a direct result from several motor vehicle accidents (one as a pedestrian) after the spine fusion surgery, I submitted a VARR request to increase the disability rating to 40%. Fortunately, the VARR was partially successfully and the DoVA D-RAS DRO adjudicated an increased VA 40% rating. Subsequently, the PEB also increased my thoracolumbar spine medical condition's DoD disability rating to 40%. Hope this helps! Take care!

Thus, I quite often comment that "possessing well-informed knowledge is truly a powerful equalizer!"

Best Wishes!
 
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