IDES — Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to go through the IDES Process?
Can I have surgery?
How long does the IDES process take?
Can I take leave?
Who determines if I am found "fit" or "unfit"?
Who determines the rating for my board?
What is TDRL?
If I am found unfit, can I still remain on active duty or in the Reserve/National Guard?
Can I appeal and at what stage in the process?
When is a Soldier unfit to continue military service?
What is the Formal PEB?
I am going before a Formal PEB. What should I do?
What is an IPR, Impartial Provider Review?



Do I have to go through the IDES Process?

The priority for a Soldier suffering an illness or injury is to ensure that he/she receives proper medical attention. If the Soldier's condition improves to the point that he/she is able to return to full military duty, he/she is returned to his/her unit. However, if the treating physician believes that the 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 IDES.
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Can I have surgery?

Surgery would require a new MRDP review to determine whether the surgery is warranted vs. elective surgery. Elective surgery can be deferred until the completion of your MEB. IAW MEDCOM Policy 11-046, Appendix D(a), new surgical or medical treatment requiring more than 45 days of recovery may require your MEB to be terminated.
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How long does the IDES process take?

The MEDCOM standard is 295 days for the entire IDES process; however each case is defined by the different types of medical conditions and may take a longer or shorter time to process.
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Can I take leave?

Yes; however, it requires a review by your PEBLO to ensure your leave does not conflict with any scheduled MEB or VA exams.
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Who determines if I am found "fit" or "unfit"?

The PEB makes determinations of
(1) Fitness or unfitness to continue military service
(2) Whether or not the injury or illness is combat-related
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Who determines the rating for my board?

The Disability Rating Activity Site (DRAS) at Seattle, WA utilizes the VASRD to determine the severity of your medical conditions in determining the appropriate disability rating.
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What is TDRL?

Soldiers who qualify for permanent disability retirement (rated at 30% or higher or with 20 or more years of active duty or 7200 points of combined service) are placed on the TDRL if the PEB determines that their condition is not stable for rating purposes. This happens if, in the opinion of the PEB, the Soldier's condition can be expected to improve or worsen during the TDRL period.

While on TDRL the disability rating doesn't change, regardless of any change in condition of the Soldier. Placement on the TDRL protects both the Soldier and the Army. Soldiers placed on the TDRL will receive a minimum of 50% of basic pay (or high 36-month average as described earlier) and also receive all other retirement benefits (ID cards, TRICARE eligibility, etc.) while on the TDRL.

Soldiers on TDRL will receive a medical re-evaluation at least once every 18 months while on the TDRL, and this re-evaluation will be forwarded to a PEB for a new disability determination. As a result of the new PEB finding, the Soldier may be found fit (and may be given the opportunity to return to military service if desired), separated with severance pay (if the rating is decreased under 30%), permanently retired, or retained on the TDRL and re-evaluated again within 18 months.

Placement on TDRL cannot be longer than five years. At the end of those five years Soldiers must be removed and given a final rating. If a Soldier does not keep USAPDA informed of their civilian address, or doesn't report for scheduled TDRL re-evaluation, retirement pay and medical benefits for the Soldier (and dependents) may be stopped.
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If I am found unfit, can I still remain on active duty or in the Reserve/National Guard?

Certain Soldiers who are found unfit by the PEB may request to be Continued on Active Duty (COAD) or in Active Reserve (COAR) status as an exception to policy. Approval for COAD/COAR rests with Human Resources Command and the National Guard. The PEB does NOT approve or disapprove a COAD/COAR request. To be considered for COAD or COAR, you must have a condition that will not require undue loss of time from duty for medical treatment, must not pose a risk to the health and safety of yourself or other Soldiers, be physically capable of performing useful duty in an MOS for which currently qualified or potentially trainable and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have 15 but less than 20 years of active federal service (COAD) or qualifying service for non-regular retirement (COAR)
  • Be qualified in a critical skill or shortage MOS
  • Have a disability that resulted from combat operations or terrorism. Normally a COAD/COAR application is submitted by a Solider when his/her MEB is completed. PEBLOs can provide more information on the COAD/COAR process.

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Can I appeal and at what stage in the process?

MEB Phase

After the completion of the MEB, the Soldier will review the findings and recommendations. If the Soldier disagrees with the MEB or feels there is information missing or not adequately addressed, he/she will have 7 calendar days to make election of concur/nonconcur, request impartial provider review and/or appeal.

If the Soldier wants to remain in the Army, he/she can use this opportunity to provide documentation on their ability to continue to perform their duties despite their medical condition(s). The rebuttal is referred back to the original physician who will address the issues contained in the rebuttal and make changes as appropriate.

The reviewing physician receives the rebuttal and can decide to let the MEB stand as written, send MEB back for further medical information, or forward to PEB with attachments or additional notes.

The reviewing physician's final disposition of the MEB can result in the following:

  • If the Soldier meets retention standards within the limits of his/her profile, he/she is returned to duty.
  • If the Soldier does not meet retention standards, the case will be referred to the PEB for further disposition.
  • If the MEB is a MOS/Medical Retention Board (MMRB) directed MEB, the case is forwarded to the PEB regardless of the MEB findings/recommendation.

PEB Phase

Informal PEB

The first determination made by the PEB is whether or not the Soldier is fit to continue to perform his/her primary military duties. The PEBLO will counsel the Soldier on the findings, assist in the completion of an election of options and notify the PEB of the Soldier's decision on how to proceed. The Soldier must complete their election of options within a maximum of 10 calendar days.

If found fit, the Soldier may either concur or non-concur with the findings of the Informal PEB. If the Soldier non-concurs, he/she may submit a written rebuttal that includes new medical information or performance data not previously available or considered by the Informal PEB. Other supporting material may also be presented. A Soldier found fit by an informal PEB does NOT have a legal right to a hearing; however, as an exception to policy he/she may request a formal PEB hearing from the PEB President.

If found unfit, the Soldier has the right to accept the findings, or can non-concur with the findings and submit a written rebuttal and/or demand a Formal PEB with or without personal appearance. All written rebuttals will be considered by the informal PEB, which may issue revised findings based on the information provided or may affirm their original findings. A Soldier does not give up his/her right to a formal hearing by submitting a rebuttal.

Formal PEB

As provided in law, no active duty or reserve Soldier found unfit by an Informal PEB may be retired or separated for physical disability without being given the right to a formal hearing. A Soldier who is found unfit by the Informal PEB and wishes to appeal can demand a formal hearing, with or without personal appearance. Army regulations require that unit commanders issue TDY orders to Soldiers to support travel to and from formal hearings.

The Formal PEB is the Soldier's opportunity, with the assistance of legal counsel, to present evidence, testimony and documents in support of his/her case. The Soldier may appear in person and present evidence pertinent to the case. The Soldier can be represented by an appointed Judge Advocate General Corps (JAGC) attorney, or counsel of their own choosing (a civilian attorney or a representative from a National Service Organization such as Disabled Americans Veterans). If the Soldier elects to have civilian counsel of his/her choosing, it will be at no expense to the government.
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When is a Soldier unfit to continue military service?

A Soldier is unfit to continue in the Army when the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that one or more physical and/or mental condition(s) significantly interferes with the Soldier's ability to perform the duties of his/her office, grade or rank. The PEB makes the decision on 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 his/her branch/MOS and grade. The mere fact that one or more medical conditions exist does NOT constitute an unfit determination.

The inability to deploy CANNOT be the sole basis for determining unfitness per DoD Instruction.

Typical medical evidence used by the PEB includes:

  • A narrative summary written by the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)
  • History and treatment of the specific injury or illness
  • Results of laboratory, X-ray, MRI, CAT scan and other specialized tests
  • Current Physical Profile
  • All referrals to physicians, specialists and sick call (health record)
  • Type and frequency of medication
  • Results of physical exam completed within past six months

Typical performance evidence includes:

  • Memorandum from the Soldier's Commander addressing current ability to perform duties in MOS and unit
  • Evaluation Reports
  • Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)
  • Approved Line of Duty investigations

I have more than one diagnosis. If the PEB finds me unfit as the result of one of my diagnoses, does that mean all of my diagnoses are unfitting and will be rated by the PEB?

The PEB evaluates the evidence of each diagnosis, but only rates the conditions that prevent the Soldier from performing his/her military duties. For example, a Soldier, in a single accident, could suffer internal injuries that result in the loss of one kidney and a musculoskeletal injury that crushes two vertebrae, damaging disks and impinging on nerves. The loss of a single kidney would not necessarily prevent the performance of military duties; however, the back injury may very likely result in the Soldier being unfit for continued military service. In this example the disability rating would likely be awarded for the back injury only.
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What is the Formal PEB?

As provided in law, no active duty or reserve Soldier found unfit by an Informal PEB may be retired or separated for physical disability without being given the right to a formal hearing. A Soldier who is found unfit by the Informal PEB and wishes to appeal can demand a formal hearing, with or without personal appearance. Army regulations require that unit commanders issue TDY orders to Soldiers to support travel to and from formal hearings.

The Formal PEB is the Soldier's opportunity, with the assistance of legal counsel, to present evidence, testimony and documents in support of his/her case. The Soldier may appear in person and present evidence pertinent to the case. The Soldier can be represented by an appointed Judge Advocate General Corps (JAGC) attorney, or counsel of their own choosing (a civilian attorney or a representative from a National Service Organization such as Disabled Americans Veterans). If the Soldier elects to have civilian counsel of his/her choosing, it will be at no expense to the government.
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I am going before a Formal PEB. What should I do?

Counsel - Once a Soldier is scheduled for a formal hearing, he/she will be contacted by a military attorney of the JAGC assigned to the garrison Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) office where the PEB is located. These officers are NOT assigned to the PEB; they serve as independent military counsel.

Military counsel is normally appointed and made known to the Soldier prior to the scheduled formal hearing date. This occurs as soon after the Soldier elects a formal hearing as is practicable. Soldiers using military counsel normally meet their counsel for the first time, face-to-face, a day or so before the formal hearing. This is an opportunity to go over the Soldier's case and discuss any last minute questions. Changing representation (counsel) prior to the formal hearing does not constitute an automatic reason for delaying or postponing a formal hearing.

Informal vs. Formal PEB - At the moment the Formal Board convenes to consider a case, the Informal Board findings become null and void, and the Soldier CANNOT accept the Informal Board findings under any circumstance.

Reporting to the Formal PEB - On the day of the formal PEB, the Soldier reports, in the appropriate uniform of the day for the locale, to the Presiding Officer of the Formal PEB. The Formal PEB panel will inform the Soldier of his/her rights, including the right to make sworn or unsworn statements, rights under the Privacy Act and the right not to make any statements relating to the origin or aggravation of the injury. If the Soldier decides not to testify under oath, the Formal PEB panel will not question him/her.

Recording testimony - All Formal Board proceedings are electronically recorded, except during the general overview prior to convening and the deliberation phase. A copy of the recording is available upon request by the Soldier or their counsel.

Documents to bring with you - During the Formal PEB, Soldiers should anticipate questions relating to how and when their condition occurred, treatments received, medication and work limitations that the condition imposes. The Soldier will be provided an opportunity to discuss his/her case in detail. At the Formal PEB, the panel will usually have the Soldier's medical records, medical reports, administrative and performance records, and statements from the Soldier's chain of command concerning current duty performance.

To avoid undue delay, the Soldier should obtain and arrive at the hearing with those items that will be necessary in the presentation of his/her case. It is highly recommended that the Soldier submit any documentation not contained in his/her PEB packet to the members of the board at least 24 hours prior to the actual board date. The Formal PEB members use all of this information in the decision-making process.

A chance to address board members - Following questioning by the Board Members and the Soldier's Counsel's summation, the Soldier has one last opportunity to address the Board Members and has the option of making a brief statement. Once all evidence has been reviewed and testimony concluded, the Soldier and Counsel will be excused for board deliberations. Only the voting Board Members are present during deliberations.

Board members vote and provide recommendation - The Formal PEB members will independently vote to determine if the Soldier is fit or unfit. All findings are decided by majority vote. The Formal PEB then reconvenes and notifies the Soldier and his/her Counsel of their decision. A copy of the report of proceedings, which provides the PEB's findings and recommended disposition, is provided to the Soldier before he/she departs from the PEB. The Soldier is again provided 10 calendar days to make an election as to whether he/she concurs or non-concurs with the Formal PEB findings.

If the decision of the board is not unanimous, the dissenting board member may choose to submit a minority report citing the rationale for disagreeing with the majority. The minority report will be made a part of the MEB/PEB record and will cause an automatic review by the Physical Disability Agency (PDA).
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What is an IPR, Impartial Provider Review?

A Service member (SM) referred into the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) may request a review of the medical evidence presented by the narrative summary or MEB findings. This request is done verbally or in writing by the soldier to his/her physical evaluation board liaison officer (PEBLO). PEBLOs will ensure they include a discussion of the IPR with their standard MEB checklist. The SM should ensure they are locally available for at least three weeks after the date of request to allow for medical review, SM rebuttal, if desired, and the convening medical board's authority return of their decision.

This request for an IPR is forwarded to the provider conducting the independent review, along with the summary of MEB findings. This provider is not directly involved in the Service Member's MEB process and will be able to review consults as needed for additional clarification.

After reviewing the records, the provider will have no more than five calendar days, excluding weekends and national holidays, to meet with the SM, advise the SM on the MEB findings, and dictate a narrative note with the details of these proceedings for inclusion in the SM's MEB record.

The SM is afforded the opportunity to request a rebuttal of the results of the MEB. The SM will have seven calendar days, excluding weekends and national holidays, to prepare a rebuttal to the convening medical authority.

All documents from the rebuttal are included with the MEB that goes to the PEB.
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page last modified on: 6/4/2014

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