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PTSD Ratings: DoD Policy Memo on 2008 NDAA

Jason Perry

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Here are the provisions regarding mental disorders that are caused by stressful events and result in release from active duty.

"E7.2. Mental Disorders Due to Traumatic Stress (application of 38 C.F.R. 4.129 of the Schedule for Rating Disabilities.) The Military Department Secretary concerned will abide by 10 USC 1216a and 38 CFR 4.129, VASRD for disposition of Service members found unfit because of a mental disorder due to traumatic stress.When a mental disorder that develops on active duty as a result of a highly stressful event is severe enough to bring about release from active military service, the rating agency shall assign an evaluation of not less than 50 percent and schedule an examination within the 6 month period following discharge to determine whether a change in rating and disposition is warranted. The disposition of Service members diagnosed with a mental disorder due to traumatic stress found to be an unfitting condition in the DES process will be as follows:

E7.2.1. For members found unfit with a rating of 80% or greater for a permanent and stable condition (or conditions) not related to diagnosis of the mental disorder due to traumatic stress, the member will be permanently retired.

E7.2.2. All other such members must be placed on the Temporary Disability
Retirement List (TDRL) and re-evaluated within a timeframe that is not less than 90 days, but within 6 months, from the date of placement on the TDRL

Overall, this is a very good development. I see a huge potential for the PEBs to try to downgrade members after the 90 day to 6 month time period has elapsed. I think it is important, given this, to take active steps to "protect" the rating.

How do you do this? Well, one step to take is to apply for your VA benefits as soon as possible. If you can access the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program, you will have a much better chance of having a VA rating in hand when they do the TDRL re-evaluation.

Next, ensure you are getting treatment, psychotherapeutic, or drug therapy, as necessary. Keep excellent records.

A huge issue will also be your employment of work status after retirement. I actually think that (perhaps inadvertently) the short 90 day- 6 month re-evaluation period will benefit you. If you are not working and are able to get documentation or a medical opinion stating that you cannot due to your mental health condition, then I think it is much harder for the PEB to lower the rating. Remember, though, that there is still the likelihood/probability that they retain you on the TDRL for an additional period of time.

Finally, there are questions in my mind as to if this is just limited to PTSD. I would think that other stress or anxiety disorders that originated after a stressful event should qualify as well. We will have to see how this plays out, but even if you don't have a formal PTSD diagnosis, I think this provision is worth considering when preparing your case.


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Here is a copy of the full memo...for anyone who needs a source document.

Edit by Jason Perry- I have removed the copy of the document attached to this post, and am linking to the copy in the Resources section:
I am doing this just to save server space and to keep resources in one place. Thanks for posting, though, eps17!
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