Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards (MEB/PEB)
If a Soldier’s physician finds it apparent that a Soldier’s condition may permanently interfere with his/her ability to serve on active duty, the treating physician will recommend the Soldier to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) and the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), which is governed by the U.S. Army Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES).
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About the Physical Disability Evaluation System?
Soldiers who are referred to the Department of the Army’s Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES) may have many questions. This handbook is designed to answer a few of those questions.
Overview of the Department of the Army’s PDES
The Secretary of the Army is charged with assuring the fitness of Soldiers, and separating or retiring those who become unfit to continue military service because of physical disability.
- The law provides benefits for eligible Soldiers whose military service is cut short due to a service-related disability incurred in the line of duty.
- The PDES is used to determine the fitness and applicable disability benefits of Soldiers with duty-related impairments.
- For Soldiers referred under the duty-related process, the PDES is comprised of the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) and the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). [Flip to “Referral to PEB” for information on the Reserve component (RC) nonduty-related process.]
The Army’s first priority for Soldiers suffering from an illness or injury is to ensure delivery of the highest quality and proper medical attention. If the medical conditions improve to the point that Soldiers are able to return to full military duty, they are returned to their units.
However, if the treating physician believes that a Soldier is unable to perform full military duty or is unlikely to be able to do so within a reasonable period of time (normally 12 months), the Soldier is referred to a MEB at the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) where treatment is being provided.
Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)
The MEB is an informal process comprised of at least two physicians who compile, assess, and evaluate the medical history of a Soldier and determine if the Soldier meets, or will meet, retention standards.
If the Soldier meets retention standards, the Soldier is returned to duty in their respective or current Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
Physical Evaluation Board (PEB)
If the Soldier does not meet retention standards, the case will be referred to a PEB for further disposition and determination of fitness. (The MEB determines whether or not a Soldier meets retention standards; it does not determine fitness.)
The PEB makes the decision of fitness by balancing the extent of a Soldier’s condition, as shown through objective medical and performance evidence, against the requirements and duties that the Soldier may reasonably be expected to perform in their current job skill.
The mere fact that one or more medical conditions exist does not constitute an unfit determination.
If the Soldier does not meet retention standards, the case will be referred to a PEB for further disposition and determination of fitness. (The MEB determines whether or not a Soldier meets retention standards; it does not determine fitness.
- Soldiers who receive a rating of 30% or greater are either placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) or are permanently retired for disability (PDR).
- Soldiers receiving a rating of 20% or less will receive disability severance pay. (Flip to “Disability Rating” for how severance pay is computed.)
The Army only rates those medical conditions that result in the Soldier being determined unfit for continued military service.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rates a Soldier for all conditions incurred in or aggravated by military service.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for a former Soldier to receive a higher combined disability rating from the VA than the PEB combined disability rating.
PDES is a Performance-Based System
It is important to understand that the PDES is a performance-based system.
Simply because a Soldier has a medical condition does not mean that the Soldier cannot continue to serve on active duty or in the Reserve components. It is the impact of the medical condition(s) upon the Soldier’s ability to perform duties appropriate to their rank and job skill that is important.
A Soldier with a serious medical condition can be found fit when the evidence establishes that the Soldier can perform his or her duties.
The PEB makes determinations of:
- Fitness or unfitness to continue military service;
- Eligibility for disability compensation;
- Disability codes and percentage rating;
- Disposition of the case; and
- Whether or not the injury or illness meets combat-related criteria to qualify the Soldier for additional tax, employment, or other benefits.
Soldiers are referred into the PDES five ways:
(1) Medical Evaluation Board (MEB):
The MTF initiates a MEB when it is determined that a Soldier’s treatment or hospitalization for a medical impairment has reached a point of stabilization and the course of recovery is relatively predictable, and further treatment will not cause a Soldier to meet medical retention standards in accordance with (IAW) Chapter 3, AR 40-501.
This determination is referred to as a Medical Retention Determination Point (MRDP). The MEB validates whether the Soldier meets medical retention standards. If the Soldier does not meet medical retention standards, the MTF refers the case to the applicable PEB.
(2) MOS/Medical Retention Board (MMRB):
The MMRB is an administrative screening board. It determines whether Soldiers who meet medical retention standards but have a permanent physical impairment can satisfactorily perform their primary MOS (branch/specialty code for officers) in a worldwide field environment.
The result of this board action may result in retention in current MOS, a change in the Soldier’s MOS, or referral into the PDES.
(3) Fitness for duty medical examination:
Commanders may refer Soldiers to the MTF for a medical examination when they believe the Soldier has a medical impairment that impacts duty performance.
If the examination indicates the Soldier does not meet medical retention standards, the Soldier will be referred into the PDES.
(4) HQDA action:
The Commander, Human Resources Command (HRC), upon recommendation of The Surgeon General, may refer a Soldier to the responsible MTF for medical evaluation as described in (3) above.
The Commander, HRC, may also direct referral into the PDES upon disapproving an MMRB convening authority’s recommendation to reclassify or branch transfer a Soldier.
(5) Reserve component (RC) nonduty-related process:
The Department of Defense (DoD) affords RC Soldiers not on active duty and pending separation for medical disqualification for nonservice-connected impairments the right to a PEB fitness determination.
RC units may refer to the Reserve Commanders’ Guide to the PDES on the PDA website at: https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/tagd/pda/pdapage.htm.
The United States Army Physical Disability Agency (USAPDA) manages the Army’s PDES and acts on behalf of the Secretary of the Army. USAPDA is a Field Operating Agency of HRC and is headquartered in Washington, DC, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
In addition to the USAPDA HQs, the Agency has PEBs located at Walter Reed, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, and Ft. Lewis, WA.
MTFs that conduct MEBs are aligned with one of these three PEBs. This alignment determines which PEB will adjudicate a Soldier’s case.
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