Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)
All military installations with a medical facility have what is known as a Medical Evaluation Board. This Board is made up of a group of medical authorities, typically two or more, whose job is to assess a service member’s medical condition to determine if they continue to meet the medical retention standards that are set in place by the military. The decisions made by the Military Medical Evaluation Board have a significant impact on the service member in question and their families. As such, it is important to understand the Medical Evaluation Board process and what all it entails.
Military Medical Evaluation Board AttorneyWhen a service member appears to be Unfit for Duty due to a medical condition, they are referred to the Medical Evaluation Board, or the MEB. The MEB is the fourth step of a 12-step process within the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). MEB follows an initial referral, the VA Disability Claim, and the C&P exam, which is short for Compensation and Pension. Here is a breakdown of each of the steps of the MEB and IDES process:
Step 1: Referral
If a service member develops a medical condition that they are not believed to recover from within one year, they may be referred to the MEB. Once they begin the MEB process, they will be assigned a Physical Evaluation Board Liason Officer as well as a VA Military Services Coordinator to assist them throughout the IDES process.
Step 2: VA Claim
Once referred, the member’s Military Services Coordinator will help them in submitting a VA Disability Claim.
Step 3: C&P Exam
Once the claim has been submitted, a Compensation and Pension Exam, commonly known as a C&P Exam, must be conducted. The exam allows a VA or otherwise contracted physician to document their findings in regards to the severity of the medical condition.
Step 4: Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)
In this part of the process, the C&P Exam results are returned to the service member’s liaison officer. The service member’s physician will then need to write a “Narrative Summary” report that covers the history of their medical conditions, from the initial onset up until the C&P exam. The Narrative Summary, also known as NARSUM, is submitted to the Medical Evaluation Board, which will then determine the medical acceptability of the conditions before forwarding their decisions to the Physical Evaluation Board.
Step 5: Physical Evaluation Board (PEB)
The Physical Evaluation Board will analyze the MEB’s findings and decide which, if any, of the service member’s conditions qualify for DoD Disability. In order to qualify, the medical condition(s) in question must be service-connected and result in the service member being Unfit for Duty.
Step 6: VA Rating
The decisions of the PEB are then forwarded to the VA. For the case to continue on, at least one of the medical conditions presented must qualify as one that makes the affected person Unfit for Duty. If none qualify, the service member will need to return to duty and the IDES process ends there. If one or more conditions do qualify, the VA will assign a Military Disability Rating to each service-connected condition presented.
Step 7: PEB Decision
The rating made by the VA is then returned to the PEB. The PEB will use these ratings as the official ratings for DoD Disability. From here, the decision is relayed back to the PEB Liaison Officer.
Step 8: Service Member Decision
The liaison officer will discuss the findings directly with the service member, who may either accept the decision or request a Formal PEB.
Step 9: Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB) Appeal
If the service member does not agree with the decision regarding their unfitting conditions, they may appeal their case to the Formal Physical Evaluation Board. The FPEB will review the case once more and make their final decision on which of the service member’s conditions are, in fact, unfitting.
Step 10: VA Reconsideration
On the other hand, if the service member does not agree with the ratings applied by the VA, they may also submit for reconsideration. The VA will re-examine its original findings before issuing a final rating. The updated rating will be applied and the decision will be finalized, thus concluding the PEB process.
Step 11: Transition
Based on the final decision, the service member in question will either be separate from the military or be put on the Temporary Disability Retired List, or TDRL for short. The service member may only be placed on TDRL if: 1) their condition is not stable, 2) their Total Combined Military Disability Rating is 30% or higher, and 3) there is a possibility that the service member may either improve enough to return to full duty or their condition may seriously worsen within the next five years.
Step 12: VA Rating Decision
After the service member has been separated from the military for one month (30 days, to be exact), the VA will officially publish its rating decision and the IDES process will finally reach its conclusion.
How Long Does the MEB Process Take?
From the initial date of referral, the entire 12-step MEB process takes approximately 2 months to complete.
How To Initiate a Medical Evaluation Board
There is no way for the service member themselves to apply or “initiate” the MEB process. Rather, a military physician must refer them when he or she feels that they have a medical condition or conditions that make the service member Unfit for Duty.
What Happens If I Am Deemed Unfit for Duty?
If after the IDES process, both the MEB and PEB decide that your medical conditions qualify as “unfitting,” you will either be medically separated or put on TDRL depending on your disability rating. Those who are medically separated will receive a one-time payment, while those who are medically retired will receive monthly payments as well as other retirement benefits. They will also qualify for disability benefits from the VA.