Military disability retirement is eligible to those who were determined to be unfit for duty with a disability rated by their respective military service as 30% or greater. For veterans who were medically separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009, this unfortunately has not always been the case. The service branches were intentionally low-balling veterans so that their ratings were less than 30% — thus denying them retirement benefits in an effort to save money.
Post-9/11 Retiree Benefits
In 2008, however, Congress ordered the branches to stop this deplorable practice. The veterans should not be shortchanged in an effort to save money. Congress had the Department of Defense create the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) to reexamine medical files and possibly increase ratings to 30% or higher. The status of “retiree” is significant. It opens the door for possible retroactive retired pay benefits back to date of discharge and full military retiree benefits. This also enables retirees to have base shopping privileges and lifetime eligibility to TRICARE for them and their family, which is also retroactive for documented out of pocket medical expenses.
Military Branches Generally Accepting PDBR Post-9/11 Retiree Recommendations
Out of about 70,000 disabled veterans this may apply to for that time period, only about 6,800 have applied for review. The concern is that the rest of the veterans may not know about this. The VA has rolled out a program to notify possible candidates. It is designed to notify them in phases and it is expected to be completed sometime next year. The review process is extremely simple, as only an application needs to be completed and sent to the PDBR. It will then review the medical records to see if a higher rating is justified. The services then decide whether to accept PDBR recommendations. So far the Air Force and the Coast Guard have approved every recommendation, while the Army 98% and the Navy (including Marines) has approved 94%. Rating downgrades are prohibited, thus applicants need not worry.
More on the PDBR and how to apply for post-9/11 retiree benefits is online at Health.mil.