A disabled veteran may be eligible for military disability benefits, Social Security Disability benefits and VA disability benefits. Read information about the differences here. If the veteran’s disability rating is high, he or she may be eligible for a monthly “military retirement disability benefit” from the Department of Defense. However, if the rating is low, they are only eligible for a one-time “disability severance” payment. In 2008 a special review process was created to make sure that the disability ratings for military benefits were fair. The review can increase the benefit rating. It cannot lower the rating. The process is handled by the Physical Disability Review Board.
As a result of the new process, many more veterans have been approved for a higher disability rating and qualified for "military disability retirement benefits." The review can be requested by the former service member or by their surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative.
Impact on VA disability benefits
There are important differences between this process and the ones used to establish VA disability benefits. The military has created a list of "frequently asked questions" to explain some of these rules.
To be eligible for the new review process, a service member must meet the following requirements:
- have been medically separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009; and
- have a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less; and
- have not been found eligible for retirement.
The request for review can be submitted at any time.
A Department of Defense Form DD-294 is used to request the review. Get the form and instructions here. Fill out the form carefully and completely. Applications require an original signature. For this reason, they cannot be submitted electronically.
In addition, you can include written statements of your own or from other individuals, other medical records or other supporting documents.
Unless requested by the intake unit, you do not need to send medical records that are already included among your service medical documents or the medical separation paperwork. Mail your application to the following address: SAF/MRBR, 550-C Street West, Suite 41 Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4743.
You do not need to attend a hearing on your application. The Review Board Panel will make a recommendation based on the written information, which is forwarded to the appropriate military authority for action. You will receive the final decision in the mail.
The process doesn’t require the decision on your application to be made by a certain deadline. However, information suggests that the decisions are being made more quickly than in the VA disability system.
The new process does not provide a way to appeal or ask for reconsideration if you disagree with the final decision. By law, the decision of the Military Secretary (or designee) is final.