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Physical Evaluation Board for Injured Service Members

Published: 2011-08-06 - Updated: 2014-12-02
Author: Patrick J. McLain | Contact: www.mclainmilitarylawyer.com

Synopsis: The amount of benefits an injured service-member receives is determined by the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).

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Injured in Service? Be Prepared for the Physical Evaluation Board
- The amount of benefits an injured service member receives is determined by the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), so it is important to be prepared and make a strong case to the PEB.

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When a member of the military is injured or suffers from a medical or mental health condition that makes him or her unfit to perform the duties of his or her rank, the Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine is entitled to medical benefits and retirement pay. The amount of benefits he or she receives is determined by the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), so it is important to be prepared and make a strong case to the PEB.

The process of determining the medical fitness of and benefits awarded to a member of the military begins with a determination as to whether he or she meets retention standards. This step is performed by a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB). In an article on the PEB process in the journal Army Lawyer, then Captain Thaddeus Hoffmeister, former Chief of Soldiers' Legal Counsel at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, notes that if the Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine is found by the MEB to meet retention standards, he or she will be returned to duty. However, if the person fails to meet retention standards, his or her file is sent to the PEB for review.

Informal PEB Review

As outlined by Captain Hoffmeister, the PEB review process consists of two possible steps. The first step is an informal PEB review of the MEB report and other relevant documents pertaining to the service-member. During this step, the individual does not have a hearing, and there are no witnesses; it is solely an independent review by an informal PEB.

After the informal PEB makes an independent recommendation as to fitness for duty and, if appropriate, a disability rating, the service-member is given two options: accept the decision of the informal PEB, or request a formal PEB hearing - the second possible step. Because the informal PEB frequently offers lower disability ratings than permitted by the rules, it is often advisable to request a formal PEB hearing to provide evidence for a full and fair rating.

Formal PEB Hearing

During the formal PEB hearing, the member of the military is given the opportunity - with the assistance of an attorney - to present his or her case in person through sworn testimony. Service-members are provided active duty counsel to represent them, who usually meet the service-member a day or two before the formal PEB hearing. If the service-member seeks more extensive assistance, advice and representation, the service-member can hire a civilian attorney, at his or her own expense, to represent him or her at the formal PEB hearing.

According to Captain Hoffmeister, during the formal PEB, an opening statement is given, the member of the military and any witnesses are questioned by both the individual's attorney and the PEB, and then a closing statement is given.

Once a majority of the PEB agrees on a result, the decision is given. If the individual agrees with the PEB, the decision is finalized. If the individual disagrees with the PEB decision, a reconsideration of the decision will be made. Once the review is made, the PEB decision is final. However, the individual may still appeal his or her case to Court of Federal Claims or, for Soldiers, to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, according to Captain Hoffmeister.

Preparing for the PEB

Because the PEB is the military members' best chance to make his or her case for disability benefits, it is important to understand what the PEB is looking for during its review and to be prepared for and familiar with the type of information the PEB will elicit.

According to Captain Hoffmeister, the purpose of the formal PEB hearing is to determine if the member of the military is fit to perform the duties of his or her rank, office, or grade. The formal PEB members also look to the medical evidence to determine how the service-member's illness or injury affects his or her daily activities of living.

Captain Hoffmeister emphasizes that "PEBs place a great deal of weight" on the credibility of the injured person. To show credibility, he or she must always be honest when answering questions about the injury or condition. The individual also must provide consistent answers to questions. In its review, the PEB will listen to what the individual says during testimony, and then review any statements the individual made before it, including during the medical review.

Because of the importance of honesty and consistency, even the Walter Reed Army Medical Center suggests practicing answering questions that may be posed by the PEB board. Captain Hoffmeister notes that practicing answers does not mean coaching or crafting answers, but it does mean becoming familiar with the types of questions the PEB may ask so the individual can comfortably and completely respond.

The PEB process is often confusing for attorneys who are not experienced in advocating for service-members at formal PEB hearings, and even more so for members of the armed forces suffering from injuries or severe medical conditions. Thus, it is important to understand the process to get the benefits you rate. Therefore, if you will undergo evaluation by the PEB, seek guidance from a knowledgeable military law attorney with experience with the PEB process.

Article provided by Patrick J. McLain - Visit us at www.mclainmilitarylawyer.com

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Cite This Page (APA): Patrick J. McLain. (2011, August 6). Physical Evaluation Board for Injured Service Members. Disabled World. Retrieved September 26, 2021 from www.disabled-world.com/news/veterans/peb.php