Physical Disability Board of Review

Doctor Examines Patient

The Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) provides veterans who were medically separated from the military between Sep. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2009, with the opportunity to have their disability ratings reviewed to ensure fairness, consistency and accuracy. More than half of the cases reviewed by PDBR have resulted in upgraded disability determinations, which means these veterans have had their medical separation changed to a disability retirement.

If a veteran is awarded a disability retirement as a result of the review process, it may not result in any immediate monetary gain. Disability payments previously received from the VA and DoD as a result of the original disability must be recouped by the government before new payments are made. This is normally done by taking the previously received amount out of any new amount due, not billing a veteran for the total amount.

But, the veteran may become eligible for all retirement benefits normally awarded military department retirees (health care, exchange, commissary, travel, etc).

PDBR Eligibility

To be eligible for PDBR review, a veteran must have been medically separated between Sep.11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2009 with a combined disability rating of 20% or less, and not have been found eligible for disability retirement. Former reserve members with more than 20 years of total federal military service and less than 20 years of active duty and who meet the criteria listed above are also eligible to apply. 

How the PDBR Works

The PDBR evaluates and reviews cases for all services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard) and their reserve components.

Each case is jointly reviewed by representatives from three separate services, one of which must be the branch the applicant served in. The PDBR examines each applicant's medical separation, compares DoD and Veteran's Administration (VA) ratings, and makes a recommendation to the respective service as to whether or not the disability rating should be changed. The branch of the service that the veteran served in makes the final decision on whether to change the disability rating.

By law, the PDBR may not recommend a lower disability rating for any rating reviewed. All changes to disability ratings that are approved by the service secretary concerned will be backdated and effective the date of the original Physical Evaluation Board.

At the present time, there is no time limit or cutoff date to apply for the review. 

Visit the Physical Disability Board of Review website to learn how to apply, and access the application form (DD 294).

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VA Disability Benefits