“An Alpha advocate can make sure you’re getting a fair handshake from both the military and the VA.”

Allen Gumpenberger discusses the military’s complex medical separation and disability rating process, and why you may get more – or less – of a disability rating from the VA.

The Steps to a Medical Separation from Active Duty Military

The process for your medical discharge begins with a review made by your treating military physician(s) who evaluates each of your disabilities to decide if any one of your conditions renders you unfit for military service. If you are unable to perform your duties, a written report, called a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) recommending that you be separated from military service will be presented to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).

Your Disability Evaluation Rating

The PEB is generally a panel of three to five officers, including a medical officer. They review the MEB recommendations and determine which disabilities have caused you to be medically unfit to continue military service. They can only review the disabilities the MEB has identified. (Note: If you have additional disabilities you think the PEB should consider, you can request an addendum to the MEB.)

The PEB assigns an evaluation rating for each of your disabilities that have rendered you unfit to continue your military service.  Then they combine each evaluation into one rating. (Note: Sometimes the PEB may find that you are fit for military service in which case they will send you back to your unit to complete your obligation.)

You Can Disagree with Your Military Rating

You have a small window of time, usually five days, to accept the PEB’s rating. What you may want to consider is how the Veterans Administration (VA) might view the military rating, and whether or not that rating could affect what you are entitled to from the VA.

If you decide to disagree with the PEB’s findings, you can submit a written statement explaining your reasons why or you can ask for a hearing with the PEB. They will consider your arguments and then make another formal decision. This will be a binding decision for your medical discharge from service.

It’s a Good Idea to Get Help with Alpha

The question is should you appeal the military’s rating decision, or accept it and move on to get more benefits from the VA after separation from service? This is when getting the help of an experienced Alpha advocate can make a difference. An Alpha advocate will guide you through the military separation process and help you develop your VA claim even before you are medically discharged. 

If you start a VA claim before separation from service you could get a VA decision on benefits as soon as a month after your official discharge.  You can apply for benefits within six months from your separation date. Keep in mind that the average wait time to process an application for VA benefits is six to eight months from the filing date.

As with most things related to military bureaucracy, the medical separation process is complex. So is the application process for VA compensation. Getting the help of an Alpha advocate is a good idea. We understand how the two systems fit together. As you transition out of military service, your Alpha advocate will make sure that you not only get a fair handshake from the military but also the most in compensation from the VA.

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.