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Monday, March 31, 2014

Service Member Medical Evaluations Review Act

The majority of current news surrounding the Military Disability system deals with the VA's immense backlog of disability cases. The VA, however, is not the only military organization with a backlog. The DoD also gives military disability to veterans who are medically separated from active duty. While not as gargantuous as the VA’s backlog, the DoD also has a backlog of disability cases that are waiting to be given a Military Disability Rating for DoD Disability compensation.

The DoD Disability Process begins while the service member is still on active duty. The service member is referred to the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) because of a condition that makes him unable to perform his responsibilities in the military. The MEB then sends the cases on to Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) where the final ruling on all DoD Disability cases is made. Somewhere between the referral to the MEB and the PEB's final decision, the cases are piling up. 

To address this problem, Congress is currently considering a law that will require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress concerning the DoD’s backlog.

The report must include:
  • The number of cases that are in the MEB Process currently
  • The average time it takes to get a case completely through the MEB Process
  • A game plan detailing how the Secretary plans on fixing the backlog
  • The date the backlog should be resolved in each branch of the military

In addition to these points, the Secretary will also be required to provide an assessment of a way to better improve information sharing among all the different groups in the DoD’s disability system.

The Secretary is currently working on digitalizing the entire process, which could greatly speed up the whole thing. There is no date of completion for this project at the present, but hopefully it will receive the necessary funding. This system would be a great benefit to the process itself and to the service members in the process. In addition to information sharing, it would allow service members to check on the status of their case and track its progress throughout the process.

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