COAD Question

Need help with the process because my PEBLO and lawyer give me two different answers.

I received my informal 199 back with 60%DOD, 100% VA Recommend Permanant medical retirement.

I am at 16 years, 5 months of active service. I wanted to put in for COAD and already have everything signed and ready to submit.

My lawyer told me I can't request COAD unless I exhaust all appeals. At this point, I don't disagree with the fact that I am unfit (had pulmonary embolism requiring lifelong anticoagulants) however; I don't want to drag this out for another 8 months.

Additionally, my lawyer was very blunt to let me know that my chances of COAD are not great. He said that usually COAD gets approved for 1-2 years. In my case, I am asking for over 3 years. I want to be done with all of this, but I need to make the right decision.

Question: Am I able to just accept my informal board ratings/decision and apply for COAD or do I in fact have to exhaust all appeals before being considered for COAD? I'm confused. Thank you so much in advance !