Over the past four years, the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs
(VA) worked together to improve the disability evaluation system and delivery of benefits process for wounded, ill and injured Service members and Veterans. In September 2011, the Departments completed the expansion of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System
(IDES)—a more simple and seamless process—assisting wounded warriors at 139 Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) worldwide.
The IDES reduces the total process time from a Service member being referred for a potentially unfitting medical condition to receiving a VA benefits package. It eliminates duplicate disability examinations and ratings and places VA counselors in MTFs to ensure a smooth transition to Veteran status with minimum gap in benefits. Wounded warriors and their families requested these improvements, and DoD and VA listened and continue to deliver.
DoD uses the IDES to determine a Service member's fitness for duty. If the Service member is found medically unfit for duty, the IDES gives them a proposed VA disability rating before they leave the service. The proposed rating informs the Service member of the approximate amount of compensation and benefits they will receive from the VA. Through the IDES process, VA Military Service Coordinators (MCSs) help Service members file their VA benefits claim before they leave the service so they can get their benefits as soon as possible after they separate from service. DoD Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officers
(PEBLOs) guide Service members through the entire IDES process to ensure they are counseled on their options and the decisions they need to make.
From the first Disability Evaluation System “pilot program,” started in November 2007 at three National Capital Region MTFs, the pilot was expanded to 27 regional U.S. locations by 2009. The successes measured at these locations led to expansion worldwide in four stages from fall 2010 to fall 2011 at every remaining major MTF. The IDES now provides coordinated case management—from physician referral to receipt of benefits—for wounded, ill and injured Service members and their families at MTFs across the globe. Service members and their families complete the IDES more quickly than the two previously separate systems, with their VA claims in place, as they transition to Veteran status. The IDES decreases gaps between benefits coverage and provides more comprehensive process management.
While this is great news, we aren’t stopping there. DoD and VA are listening to Service members and continue to make improvements so that Service members and their families experience the best possible disability evaluation system and delivery of benefits process.