MMQB: Better Check, DoD may Owe You over $100k in Back Pay
It could if you were medically discharged between 2001-2009. Some veterans who were medically discharged before 2001 may also be eligible.
Around 70k lowballed veterans are still eligible for medical retirement if they were lowballed during the discharge. This article tells you how to qualify.
For years, VA has been accused of lowballing veterans. They do this by assigning an artificially low disability rating with complete disregard for the record.
The DoD has also been the source of lowballing servicemembers during the medical discharge process.
This is the subject for today’s Monday Morning Quarterback – DoD’s former plan of lowballing servicemembers. Hi, my name is Benjamin Krause, and I am your host today.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the effect of an artificially low rating is straightforward. A low rating makes the overall cost of war appear lower than it is. The cost is lower because veterans are paid less in disability, retirement pay, and/or benefits.
The DoD practice of lowballing mostly impacted Army personnel, but all branches were in on the game.
A significant area of focus would be veterans who were discharged with mental health issues that were improperly diagnosed in service.
For this MMQB, I planned to write about the fact that neither Congress nor the Executive know what a website is, and that this lack of knowledge allows taxpayers to be ripped off.
Instead, it seemed timely to inform my readers who were lowballed that they might qualify for retirement.
So here we go.
70k Veterans Still Eligible for Retiree Status
This weekend, I scanned through different news outlets and came across this article by Tom Philpott. It was titled, 70k Vets Still Have Chance to Gain Retiree Status.
Tom Philpott is a legend in journalism relating to veterans issues.
While I do not always agree with his slant, Philpott does tend to get the inside scoop. For that reason, what he writes has value even when slanted the wrong way.
Here is the gist of what he had to say about how the military lowballed active duty personnel during the medical discharge process.
I will insert my own legal and historical understanding into the conversation.
Statistics: How many veterans are impacted?
So far, DoD has acknowledged that around 70,000 veterans may be impacted by the manipulations of the military that defrauded veterans of retirement pay.
To date, 6,800 veterans have applied for review and 3,800 of those have received a final determination.
Initially, almost 50% of veterans files reviewed came back with an increase to 30% disability or more, as of 2011. This resulted in those veterans earning retroactive retiree benefits.
According to Philpott, around 25% of applicants are receiving a favorable determination after 2011.
Benefits of Military Retiree Status
Successful applications for review will receive retirement back pay to the date of discharge minus any relevant payouts.
Beyond this, the benefits of retiree status are numerous. The biggest advantage is that all retirees qualify for TRICARE. Qualified veterans are able to shop on bases, etc.
Problem: The Medical Discharge Lowball policy was a fraud against veterans
For many years, the Army and other branches tweaked their policy for discharge by improperly implementing VA disability combined rating scales when it would disallow retirement status.
Specifically, the services would combine rating when doing so would result in a lower than 30% rating. In other cases, they would separately rate conditions and ignore others that would also result in a lower than 30% rating.
In 2008, Congress learned that the military branches were lowballing their servicemembers to avoid paying out retiree benefits.
In 2011, it was revealed that the Army was intentionally lowballing military members with mental health disabilities.
These kinds of deception are a form of fraud and medical malpractice.
Fraud is defined as a “[a] knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment.” (Blacks Law Dictionary)
Likewise, medical malpractice is a “doctor’s failure to exercise the degree of care and skill that a physician or surgeon of the same medical specialty would use under similar circumstances.”
When a group of people actively participates in a plan to commit fraud against disabled people, it is a conspiracy.
When a conspiracy works against the law in the military, it could be considered subversion. Subversion during a time of war is treason.
You get the picture. This is bad. Only by applying for benefits will the American people know the size of the fraud perpetrated against servicemembers.
How to Qualify for Medical Retiree Status
The Department of Defense implemented the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) after Congress legislated its creation in 2008.
The PDBR was created to review medical discharges of veterans from 2001 to 2009. The PDBR specifically is reviewing disability awards of 20% or less.
The PDBR will review your file to see if you were incorrectly awarded a low rating. The Board cannot lower your rating, so applying for a review cannot hurt.
Instead, if they find that you should have received a 30% or greater evaluation when you were discharged, that recommendation is passed on to the relevant branch of service.
The branch then decides whether or not to approve the recommendation. If approved, you will receive Retiree status.
To date, all branches of the military have accepted more than 90% of all recommendations.
DoD believes that approximately 70,000 veterans are eligible for review. Only 6,800 have applied.
Here is the link to learn how to apply for review to the PDBR.
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I was medically discharged in 2003 with a 0% Service connected disability for pulmonary embolisms (6817). The VA gave me 30% for the exact same thing. I applied to the PDBR in 2011 but was denied. In 2012 I appealed my VA decision and it was upgraded to a 60% and I was awarded a “Clear and Unmistakable Error” (CUE), meaning the VA acknowledged I should’ve been rated 60% all along, they backdated the new rating to my original discharge date. However the PDBR only knew about the 30% rating from the VA, not the new 60%. Is there anything I can do? I’ve appealed to the BCNR but they refused to review my case because they can’t override a decision made by the Secretary of the Navy. I even asked my congressman for help but the BCNR told him the same thing.
I was medically discharged 10 percent in 1999, Can I still apply for an upgrade?
My original PEB was 10% in 2008. I recently received my PEB appeal. I was granted TDRL for 6 months then permanent retirement from that date forward.
Like everything else with the government it’s extremely annoying to get anything done but it’s worth trying. You’ll have to reach out to the PEB office to inquire about the appeal application if you don’t have your file from your branch of service (mine sat on a table for 2 years before I submitted, my frustration/lethargy, not the Service’s).
From the date I certify mailed my appeal to my decision was 103 weeks. Good luck to all.
The link is broken. How do you begin the process…
I received 90% Va disability and was medically chapter thru the PEB and MEB at 0%. My VA rating was PTSD 50%, Back Problems and Pain 50%, Neck Chronic Pain 40% and Skin Condition 10% and Chronic Migrate Headaches 50%. I file for an increase for PTSD.. Just got diagnosed with mild Sleep Apnea. And lower Abnormial Pain 10%..I submitted to have my board reevaluation because in 2001 thru 2008 they didnt rate veterans right especially veterans with mental health disabilities. I’m hoping to get some type of military retirement at least 30%.I really do need the health insurance..When they did my PEB and MEB board on MDD 0%, lower stomach pain % 0 with 4 surgeries. Back problems 0%, PTSD 0%, headaches 0%.Severe Anemia 0% and Latex Allergy 0%,Headache 0%.This was so unfair. I did 8 years and I been in the military since I was 18 years old. Being I was station at Fort Myer VA which is right next door from the Pentagon during September 11 2001. My board was in 2004 and they mess me over. 26 years old and came home with nothing. I hope my board goes well and someone would just look and see that I got mess over.I paid back my severance pay of 15,000. This is very depressing.But the APRB in Texas gave me an file number last year in September and hopeful the board will give me justice. My fingers are crossed. Please pray for me..
i was med board out of service in 2004 with 20% i broke my neck and underwent spinal fusion of c5,c6 and c7 and have had alot of problems with balance and use of my right arm.i also suffer from depression due to losing both my civilian job in law enforcement and my military career.would i stand a chance of an increase.do i need a lawyer
I was med boarded out may 2001 for one crushed ankle / foot 20%. My other crushed ankle, broken jaw, tbi were not on the med board. I’m 90% VA with 40% of that both ankles. Should my other injuries been included in my initial med board?
How is eligibility to apply for those discharged prior to 2001 determined?
How do I know if my military rating is less than 20%… I don’t recall seeing 2 different ratings. I got a combined rating from VA in 2005, it’s been a downhill battle since then and I’m definitely losing
I have a combat-related discharge of 20% but I discharged in May 2010, am I disqualified? I have a 70% VA Rating.
I was diagnosed with PTSD while serving in Bosnia in 1998. I also spent two weeks in the hospital there for breathing problems. During my medical evaluation prior to my ETS date, the doctors diagnosed me with asthma and stated I was above 40% of what was considered fit for duty and could no longer continue my career in the military. I requested to have my dd214 records changed 3 days after leaving the military to medical discharge (still have my claimant copy)- nothing was ever documented on my dd214. I was given 30% for my asthma and 10% for my knee. Nobody ever discussed a medical retirement with me or what my options were…I don’t understand why this option is now only available to veterans post 9/11?? Or is there a way to have this changed?
What if your discharge reads honorable with medical conditions? They put me out after 12+ years service for a back injury, but this is what the discharge read, they gave me 0%, but service connected me. I could not even believe this was possible when it was an injury that I medical boarded for at least 3 times to reenlist and was deployed to the desert for the gulf war. I have fought and fought for over 20 years now for all my medical conditions, have about 6 service connected, but the 0% percent on my back initially with a honorable with medical conditions blew my mind.
Corey, did it hurt change your disability compensation, how does it work?
Is there a timeframe I have to get this done by? What I mean, is this something that will continue, or is it going to be phased out?
The reason I ask, is because I have a 30% rating from VA (10% from USAF), but am appealing a disability that was denied (would take me to 70%). Those medical records were “lost,” but have now been found.
Would it benefit me in any way to hold off on the PDRB until the appeal is done, or will it not matter?
I was medically separated from the Army in July 1997 with a 20% rating. By August 1999 I had fought my way through the VA nightmare to permanent & total status. I then fought with the SSA until Sept 2001 when I received SS disability. I have numerous injuries (bad knee, bad shoulder, etc) but the worst was a neck injury that led to impingement of the right branch of my C5 nerve with permanent nerve damage. I suffered from neck pain for years on AD but all the doctors would tell me it was refered pain from my bad shoulder. Never would do an MRI or CT scan, just xrays. Even when I was going through my MEB they refused to examine it. Luckily after I got out my wife had a job with good insurance. Went & saw a civilian doctor & after an MRI I was immediately sent to see a neurosurgeon. Had surgery less than a week after I had the MRI. Doctor informed me the spinal canal was 70% open & the opening for the right C5 nerve was less than 30% open. Had rubbed the protective coating on the nerve off leading to constant severe pain which has now spread to both arms, shoulders, neck, & most of my back. Nothing can be done to improve it. Even with insurance it cost me over $3000 which the govt refused to reimburse. When I first saw this story I got pissed off big time because of the arbitrary cut off. They acknowledge the fact that it’s been going on for many years but only include those that have served since 9/11. I guess they’re going to ignore us like they’ve done with Agent Orange & nuclear blast soldiers.
I believe you can still appeal their decision with additional evidence supporting your case. You may need to get a consult from a lawyer in your area . It’s important to not just settle to what was given you if you feel like you were shorted due benefits to regain the care you need.
I had my medical discharge overturned to a retirement through the PDRB.
I was simply honorably discharged. In 1970. There was nothing medical about it. Medical issues didn’t show up until several years after I was discharged.
Corey, How long did it take and what did they give you initially and then what did they change it to? I might be getting the same thing with the PDRB, but some lawyers that are working pro bono for me might be doing it for me. The organization is the NVLSP which is the National Veterans Legal Services Program, They are in the process of obtaining my medical records and they will evaluate them to see if I should have gotten a disability retirement. If you would be so kind as to contact me with some of the details of how you did it, I would be most appreciative. I am a 100% Disabled Veteran with the VA, had to take a disability retirement from my government job and I have 100% disability with Social Security, but they over paid me cause they reduce my disability retirement because I get Social Security Disability. It only took them 2 1/2 years to figure it out and I have to pay back $42,000 over the next 73 months. Great huh? My retroactive disability retirement would really help and make my life a little better. Congrats on your success and I would like to find out how you did it if you wouldn’t mind? Thanks, DL
Is there a website to check the status of my claim to the PDRB?
I was discharged in 1970, so this article doesn’t benefit me at all.I didn’t even know I had a service connected disability until 2009.
If your Informal board was lowered by the MEB and then were lowballed and ended up with 39% (instead of 100%) as was later proven by VA retro back to date of discharge, will the PDBR review your case?
You still have to meet the discharge requirements stated by the PDBR unfortunately to be reviewed.
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