Strengthening the Disability Evaluation System

Service member meets with coordinator

Did you know that the U.S. government has provided military disability compensation since the Civil War?  As the nature of military engagements worldwide has changed, so too has the military disability system.  Today, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) incorporates DoD and Department of Veterans Affairs processes.

DOD is committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of our Nation’s wounded, ill, and injured Service members through proactive policy and programs, including the Disability Evaluation System.  The DoD ensures Service members with line of duty injuries or illnesses, who can no longer perform their military duties, separate and receive a disability severance or disability retirement through the military disability evaluation system.

If a Service member is wounded, ill, or injured while on active-duty, the goal is return to his or her unit.  However, if found unfit to perform those duties, there are a couple of potential outcomes, including: separation with a lump sum severance payment, separation without pay, temporary retirement, and permanent retirement.

The VA conducts examinations of all of a Service member’s medical conditions (both DoD-reported and Service member-claimed).  The DoD determines a Service member’s fitness for duty based on those exam results and other relevant evidence, and if the Service member is found medically unfit for duty, he or she receives a proposed disability rating from the VA, finalized when or if he or she leaves service.  The DoD compensates for all unfitting conditions and the VA provides compensation for all other service related conditions.

DoD and VA are committed to continually improving the DES, making it more flexible for the departments and the Service member.  Recent evolutions and improvements to the IDES include:

  • Implementation of a first-of-its-kind quality assurance program to evaluate the accuracy of case outcomes, enhance consistency across the Military Departments, and build greater accountability and performance measures for stakeholders such as Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officers, physicians, and adjudicators
  • Significant progress in developing a DES information technology infrastructure, to increase data accuracy, timeliness, and transparency, reducing reliance on manual processes
  • Increased Military Department staffing of IDES adjudicators and case managers, which allows for more personalized counseling for Service members and decreased processing time
  • To date in Fiscal Year 2015, Service member IDES satisfaction rates remain at 86 percent or higher

If you have questions about the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, send them to us at warriorcare@osd.mil