Physical Disability Board of Review Update

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#1
Attached is a "PDBR Questions and Answers" document posted on Welcome to the Military Health System Website

It looks like December 1, 2008 will be the start date for PDBR applications.

Here is more: MHS - Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)

I will be posting more in the future on this subject. The main decision point for those eligible for the PDBR will be the relative advantage and disadvantage to pursuing a BCMR/BCNR application over the the PDBR.

The Air Force still has to publish implementing regulations. The regulations may impact the decision-making process.
 

Attachments

maparker

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#2
Below is a posting I made on the DoD Heath Affairs website directed at Secretary Gates on the PDBR.

Mike


While I believe you are sincere in your commitment to wounded warriors, the actions of your staff shows a severe lack of commitment for doing the right thing for wounded warriors.

DoD has continually interpreted disability laws to do the least for the wounded warriors. It was this money first, soldiers last culture that lead to the Walter Reed problems and this culture is unfortunately still alive and well despite promises of reform. When it comes to disabled service members, there are only two things DoD will do; What they want to do and what Congress makes them do. DoD has not done much on their own and when Congress creates new disability laws, DoD continually interprets them so that they can delay, dilute or distort the mandate of Congress in order to save money at the expenses of wounded warriors.

The new Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) is a perfect example of this problem. Congress passed the law creating the PDBR in the 2008 NDAA. Congress did this because the disability evaluations system used dishonest, if not criminal, techniques to lower disability ratings below 30%. By keeping these ratings below 30%, DoD avoided having to pay disability retirement benefits. The PDBR was created to correct these bogus DoD disability rating determinations.

Since the PDBR law was signed into effect via the 2008 NDAA, DoD has done nothing but slow roll implementation and poison the PDBR process. DoD is clearly doing this to save money at the expense of our wounded warriors. How can you continue to state wounded warriors are your second highest priority if your staff continues to delay, dilute and sabotage the PDBR and other DES reforms?

Here are a few examples of PDBR problems:

1. Congress mandated in law that DoD would have the PDBR up and running by 28 April 2008. To date, the PDBR has yet to accept an application let alone review a case. Your second highest priority is getting very little priority from your staff.

2. DoD recently posted an update to the PDBR (MHS - Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)). Integrated into this announcement are DoD plans to further screw the wounded warrior. DoD has stated that if the PDBR process corrects the disability rating leading to higher disability benefits, they will not allow retroactive payments. This is absolute crap! DoD and the Services were getting away with dishonest, if not illegal, techniques to lower ratings and deny disability benefits. They got caught and Congress took action to correct the past. Now DoD is stating that if the PDBR determines a wounded warrior’s rating was not compliant with law, they will not make back payments to rectify the mistake. DoD has wired the PDBR such that the longer it takes them to get the PDBR up and running, the less money they have to pay to wounded warriors. DoD is already 6 months past the 28 April deadline established in law. Secretary Gates, is this really your intent?

3. When Congress created the PDBR, they stated the intent was “to review the disability determinations of covered individuals by Physical Evaluation Boards.” There were many “techniques” the Service PEB’s used to lower disability rating below 30%. Again, DoD has diluted the intent of Congress by limiting the PDBR to a review of just the DoD rating as compared to the VASRD rating criteria. They have prohibited the PDBR from looking at other factors that lead to artificially low disability ratings such as cherry picking which disabilities are deemed unfitting and rated. Your staff is once again doing the least possible for wounded warriors.

4. The DoD instruction for the PDBR indicates they will not be applying the legal requirement to rate unfitting conditions per the Veterans Administrations Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD). It appears DoD will only rate conditions per the VASRD for decisions decided after 28 January 2008, the date the 2008 NDAA was signed into law. The law (10 USC 1201, 1203) and several court decisions have always required DoD to rate unfitting conditions per the VASRD. Instead, DoD and the Services created substitute rating criteria and policies (despite the fact the DoD General Counsel opinions stating such criteria was illegal) to avoid having to give ratings of 30% or more and paying higher disability benefits. Now it appears that DoD has arranged it so the PDBR can continue to apply illegal DoD substitute rating criteria and policies thus continuing to deny legally due disability benefits.

Secretary Gates, actions speak louder than words and your staff’s actions do not match your words. For the sake of wounded warriors, do something about it.

From November of 2005 to the September of 2006, I wrote several emails and letters and conducted briefings with Army and DoD DES officials illuminating grave concerns with the DES. They refused to do a damn thing about it. In September 2006 I wrote the Washington Post about my concerns and they in turn launched a four month investigation that resulted in the story you and the nation found so disturbing. You should know your staff new about the Washington Post involvement back to at least October 2006 when I personally notified DoD that I had contacted the press due to their lack of action. Again they refused to take any action and DoD and the Army took a big hit that could have been easily avoided by doing what all leaders should do; take care of the service members, especial those who become disabled while serving this country.

It has been almost two years since the Walter Reed story broke and I find that not much has changed in the DoD culture. I have found the only way to get DoD and the Services to do the right thing is to go to the press and expose them. It is truly shameful that the only problems that get fixed are those that get the attention of the press. It is a lesson I have learned and relearned over the past 3 years. The inaction and shenanigans of your staff compels me to redouble my efforts to expose wounded warrior issues in the press so that they can be properly addressed. Of course, I would very much prefer for DoD do the right thing the first time on their own.

The PDBR issue is just the tip of the iceberg of issues where DoD continues to do the least possible for wounded warriors. I am standing by to brief you on other DES issues at your convenience.


V/R,

Michael Parker
LTC, USA (Retired)
 

fdmckeever

PEB Forum Veteran
#3
Mike,

Thank you from all of us for being the tip of the spear. Your knowledge, insight and credibility with the political/government side is extremely valuable.

D.
 

Pandora's Box

PEB Forum Regular Member
#5
I have looked at the "Physical Disability Board of Review Questions and Answers" posted on the the DOD Medical Health System website. It states in paragraphy #28
"The military records will be corrected effective the date of the Secretary’s decision (not retroactive). It should be noted, Board for Correction of Military (or Naval) Records (BCMR/BCNR) corrections are effective as of the date of the original action (here medical separation). This means that benefits arising from a PDBR will be prospective only whereas a BCMR/BCNR correction would give benefits retroactively."

However, the information in this FAQ sheet contradicts DODI 6640.44 issued on June 27, 2008, which states:

"6. CORRECTION OF MILITARY RECORDS

a. The Secretary concerned may correct the military records of a covered individual in accordance with a recommendation made by the PDBR under paragraph 4.e. of this enclosure. Any such correction may be made effective as of the effective date of the action taken on the report of the Military Department PEB to which such recommendation relates.
b. The Secretary concerned shall ensure that, in the case of a Service member previously separated pursuant to the findings and decision of a Military Department PEB together with a lump sum or other payment of back pay and allowances at separation, the amount of pay or other monetary benefits to which the covered individual would be entitled, based on the member’s military record as corrected, shall be reduced to take into account receipt of such lump sum or other payment."

The DODI does not appear to mandate that the revised rating be retroactive, but the language clearly gives each service secretary the discretion to make them retroactive to the date of the final decision on the original service PEB (which would be the formal PEB if it were not challenged by the servicemember, or else the final agency decision, such as the Army PDA). Unless DOD has issued a revised instruction or regulation, I don't see how the Medical Health Service can publish what amount to informal FAQs that rescind portions of the formal instruction.

Any thoughts?​
 

maparker

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#6
The law says may be made effective form the date of the PEB decsion. DoD is looking at that language as an out. Again DoD is doing the least possible despite their public comments that they are doing everything possible for wounded warriors.

Mike
 

jim1960

PEB Forum Veteran
#7
Mike,

Thanks for your concern for the wounded warriors of this great country. As I read through the new policy I too was sad and disappointed at the screwing the DoD is planing to give.
 

Jack

PEB Forum Veteran
#10
Mike, Jason and all,

Once again thanks for all you do. Id give up my 1 bottle of water issued to me each day while deployed in Iraq to see the face(s) of gates and those after they ready Mikes email.
 

DragonFly757

PEB Forum Veteran
#11
Mike,

Let's compare some notes. I was directly involved in that WP investigation...were you interviewed at all? I am trying to tie up some loose ends and would love to talk to you about it more. Thanks!

ETA: By the way...excellent letter. :)
 

DragonFly757

PEB Forum Veteran
#12
While I can understand the reason to be angry and want to vent (which you have every right to do!) I do not understand why wishing innocent people dead is very productive or appropriate.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#13
Orion69,

The failures in this system are well documented. This issue on date of retroactive benefits is one that I intend on taking on (and I think this will be changed...either through educating the DoD on this issue, exposing this in the media, getting Congressional attention to fix this, or, if necessary by fighting this in Federal Court).

Many officials have let Servicemembers down in administering the disability process. This offends me. Leadership is a sacred honor and a responsibility. While, for Officers, it is one given by grant of Commission from the President, it is earned through action.

I also understand the frustration. Part of this forums purpose is to offer a place to voice frustration and to vent. That being said, too many good people died. I do not think another death would help in our fight for taking care of those going through the MEB or PEB. In my opinion, it is best to take that anger and funnel it toward fighting the failures in the system.
 

Rangersigo

PEB Forum Regular Member
#14
Orion69,

Your post was really disturbing. I left the service in 2002 due to injuries I received from the attack on the Pentagon. I had arrived that morning... I guess I am one of those you wish dead. Though my injuries were not extensive, I was found unfit for continued service and separated. Originally recommended for retirement by the PEB - 1 week prior to my separation, I received a letter indicating a change to 20% and severance. I was a CPT (O-3) at the time with 7 years enlisted prior to OCS.

I believe that you may not believe that the "system" treats everyone unfairly, but as an officer and enlisted - I remember my commitment and service being the same. I know of officers and enlisted - both treated unfairly.

Please use this forum as a resource.
 

strykerpro

PEB Forum Regular Member
#15
Click on the link below to take you to the Physical Disability Board of Review web site. Pending approval the application form should be available on Dec 1. I haven't been able to get any good information form anyone as far as advice on what to expect or a good approach. I have talked to the social worker at my local VA hospital as well as some of the Veterans Servaces Agencies. All anyone knows is what they are able to find on google. This link has provided the best info I have found so far.

Gary

MHS - Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR)
 

SGTPREMT

Registered Member
#16
Has anyone done the request for review yet?
Is there a specific DOD form?
I check with the local PAD/MEB here in Newport News VA, they dont dont about the process.
Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.
11 yr of service and still serving to those who serve!!!
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#17
SGTPREMT,

They are saying that this won't be up until 1 DEC. I will post more news the second I find out anything.
 

doc

PEB Forum Regular Member
#18
I find it interesting that it's going on December 4th and there is still no PDBR application on the Military Health System Website and there is no luck doing a search for the form either. I'm just wondering if they are stalling to avoid payments to those who qualify or if the are working out the bugs in the new regulations that are not in our favor. Hmmmmmmm.
 

hayes0310

Registered Member
#19
Here it is, Dec 5th and still no DD Form 294 on the net. Has anyone heard anything recently? I'm hopeful that this system will work the way it is supposed to but I'm also skeptical that it's a way for the DOD and the VA to get rid of some of the bad press they've been getting recently. Once the bad press stops they'll go back to screwing the Veterans like they have been. Good luck to all in getting what you desire and/or deserve. Me personally, I just want the retirement I was robbed of when the MEB put me out.

Scott
 

MilHealth

PEB Forum Regular Member
#20
The web site strykerpo referenced on health.mil will be updated with new information about the PDBR form any day now. I am sorry it has taken this long, but I will let you know when it has been updated.

The revised form is still going through different channels of government to make sure it is compliant with all rules and regs. Not a good excuse I admit but that's what I know. I hope to provide another update in a few days.
 
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