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gineric12

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I am researching the medical retirement/disability system due to being considered for medical seperation and have some questions I hope someone can help with...

The way I understand it is if you are deemed unfit for military service by the local MEB, the boards findings are sent to the PEB (Physical Evaluation Board) to determine what percentage will be assigned for your particular disability. If you are assigned less than 30%, you will be given a "lump sum" payment based on your years in service and base pay. If it is 30% or higher, you will receive that percentage of your base pay (top 3) monthly, like a normal retirement.

My questions are:

1) I understand that in the 2nd situation (you are getting monthly payments), the income is taxable. Is this true?

2) If a soldier is medically retired (getting monthly payments), does he get the same benefits that he would if he were to retire "normally" after 20 years (i.e. medical coverage for family, etc.)

3) I have had my lumbar spine fused and also had a revision surgery (2 surgical repairs total) to the same area, as well as some nerve damage to a leg. Does anyone have any insight/similar personal experience that could assist me in finding out what percentage I could expect from the board? I have nearly 15 years in and am trying to decide if I should pursue the medical retirement or try to "gut it out" for 5 more years and hope I don't get an assignment that requires me to do things I am no longer capable of doing.

4) From my research, I understand that a soldier being considered for medical retirement can petition to retire "normally" if he has a minimum of 15 years in. Is this true? If so, how likely is it to be approved? Would it be more beneficial to retire normally? When in the process can this petition be generated (i.e. Can you weigh your options and attempt to file a petition after you see what percentage the PEB is going to give you?)?

If anyone can provide any insight into any of the questions above, it would be greatly appreciated.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I don't have the answer but hang around because someone does. Can you get a civilian lawyer who understands military law to represent you at this hearing. You know the military does not want to pay you forever and would like to cut you loose with the lump sum. I think this is complicated and I would advise getting expert legal help. This is going to influence you for the rest of your life. What ever you can do to bump that disability rating up would probably be a good thing for your future. Can you submit a civilian doctor's opinion? If yes I would get that doctor's opinion. How much time do you have before the hearing?

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Guest DON20906
I am researching the medical retirement/disability system due to being considered for medical seperation and have some questions I hope someone can help with...

The way I understand it is if you are deemed unfit for military service by the local MEB, the boards findings are sent to the PEB (Physical Evaluation Board) to determine what percentage will be assigned for your particular disability. If you are assigned less than 30%, you will be given a "lump sum" payment based on your years in service and base pay. If it is 30% or higher, you will receive that percentage of your base pay (top 3) monthly, like a normal retirement.

Correct: If you are boarded out at less than 30% you are not retired, you are just out. The lump is Special Disbaility Severance Pay and it is subjet to recoupment against any VA award.

My questions are:

1) I understand that in the 2nd situation (you are getting monthly payments), the income is taxable. Is this true?

All miltary retired pay is now taxable, regardless of the percentage of disability. It used to be that if a service member was medically retired at 60% or greater, that income was tax exempt, but that was abolished in 1972.

2) If a soldier is medically retired (getting monthly payments), does he get the same benefits that he would if he were to retire "normally" after 20 years (i.e. medical coverage for family, etc.)

Retired is retired. If you are placed on the PDRL list, your are eligible for the same benefits as thought you had retired at 20. Not true for TDRL.

3) I have had my lumbar spine fused and also had a revision surgery (2 surgical repairs total) to the same area, as well as some nerve damage to a leg. Does anyone have any insight/similar personal experience that could assist me in finding out what percentage I could expect from the board? I have nearly 15 years in and am trying to decide if I should pursue the medical retirement or try to "gut it out" for 5 more years and hope I don't get an assignment that requires me to do things I am no longer capable of doing.

Calls for a medical exam. :unsure:

4) From my research, I understand that a soldier being considered for medical retirement can petition to retire "normally" if he has a minimum of 15 years in. Is this true? If so, how likely is it to be approved? Would it be more beneficial to retire normally? When in the process can this petition be generated (i.e. Can you weigh your options and attempt to file a petition after you see what percentage the PEB is going to give you?)?

You may ask to stick it out, but it's ultimately up to the PEB/MEB as to fitness for duty. If you are boarded out at less than 50% then you lose the difference between your disability rating and the 20-year retirement. Given that DoD is actively retaining amputees from OIF/OEF it's possible they will cut a deal.

If anyone can provide any insight into any of the questions above, it would be greatly appreciated.

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I don't have the answer but hang around because someone does. Can you get a civilian lawyer who understands military law to represent you at this hearing. You know the military does not want to pay you forever and would like to cut you loose with the lump sum. I think this is complicated and I would advise getting expert legal help. This is going to influence you for the rest of your life. What ever you can do to bump that disability rating up would probably be a good thing for your future. Can you submit a civilian doctor's opinion? If yes I would get that doctor's opinion. How much time do you have before the hearing?

That is just it. The way I understand it is that it is not a formal hearing that I attend that decides my percentage. The local MEB will determine fitness (w/out my attendance based on what my surgeon is telling me) and then once deemed unfit, my paperwork goes to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) at Ft. Sam Houston to determine my percentage. I will also not be involved in that process based on what I am being told. I am not sure what if any appeal process exists if I don't agree with the percentage maybe someone here can help.

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WOW! Thanks SO much for all of the helpful information. My next question to you relates to your response to point #4 in my original post. The ball is very possibly going to start rolling on this next week. I have an appointment with my surgeon and barring any new developments with my X-Rays, he will probably initiate the P3 profile which will generate the MEB process. He told me that the entire process (MEB/PEB) takes around 6 months, which means the first part of '07. I hit 15 years in January and therefore I would fall into the category of a possible early "normal" retirement option. I was just wondering if anyone knew where in the process this was available (i.e. can you decide AFTER you get a lower % than you expect from the PEB, or would I potentially have to petition for this BEFORE I would hit 15 and therefore be ineligible)?

Again, thanks for taking the time to provide such useful and detailed information. I assure you it is appreciated.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I think most of the amputees that are retained are very senior NCO's and officers. I still say you should get a legal opinion on your case and find out if their are appeals or if you can have your own representative advocate for you. Once it is done then it is done. You cannot trust the military to give you a good answer on this since they have a dog in the fight.

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Guest DON20906

" If you are assigned less than 30%, you will be given a "lump sum" payment based on your years in service and base pay."

Disability Severance Pay is payable to service members with fewer than 20 years service who are found unfit for duty as a result of a disability that was incurred or aggravated on active duty, was incurred in the line of duty, is rated less than 30% under the VA schedule for rating disabilities and is or may be permanent. Disability Severance Pay is computed by multplying the monthly basic pay at the grade at time of discharge or the monthly basic pay or any higher grade held in which he or she satisfactorily served by twice the number of years of active duty. The maximum is two years basic pay.

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I just met with my surgeon last week and he informed me that due to the reservists that have been activated coming home from deployment and reporting untraceable back pain (implying that they were trying to "cash in") that the medical board is skeptical of anyone getting processed for back issues and he went as far as to say that they have adopted a 10% across the board disability percentage for back issues. He said that I SHOULD qualify for more considering my extensive medical history (i.e. 2 surgeries and documented permnent nerve damage) but he wanted to prepare me for the worst.

So, to me that means that unless I can petition for an early "normal" retirement, I could be throwing 15 years down the drain for a cash settlement which I deem unacceptable for my service.

Does anybody have any insight about their experience with the Physical Evalution Board's percentages for back issues? Any help you can offer is appreciated.

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