The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) can assist veterans who were wrongfully denied medical retirement as well as active and reserve service members going through the medical retirement process. NVLSP can also assist retired veterans in obtaining benefits linked to retirement such as Combat-Related Special Compensation.
A service member whose disabilities render them unable to perform the duties of their office, grade, rank, or rating should be evaluated for medical retirement by a medical evaluation board (MEB) and a physical evaluation board (PEB). The PEB evaluates all major illnesses or disabilities and decides whether any of them make the member unfit for continued service, and, if so, which ones cause the member to be “unfit.” Once the PEB determines which conditions make a member unfit, a disability rating (reflecting the severity of the disability) is assigned to each unfitting condition.
A combined military disability rating of 30% or more entitles the service member upon discharge to medical retirement benefits, which include lifetime monthly disability retired pay; lifetime military health care for the veteran, spouse, and minor children; access to military commissaries and post exchanges; and other retirement benefits. However, a service member assigned a combined military disability rating of less than 30% receives a lump-sum severance payment and no retirement benefits.
For veterans: seeking retroactive medical retirement
NVLSP can provide free legal representation to veterans who either (1) received medical disability processing that provided a combined disability rating of 20% or less or (2) were denied medical disability processing. This includes veterans who were wrongfully diagnosed with an adjustment disorder or personality disorder but were actually suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or some other mental health condition. NVLSP can also assist with applications to the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) for veterans who were medically separated between 9/11/2001 and 12/31/2009 with a combined disability rating of 0%, 10%, or 20% as a result of a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).
For active and reserve members: Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES)
IDES is a joint DOD/VA process for determining whether a disabled service member is unfit for continued military service, and, if so, the level of military disability benefits the service member should receive upon discharge.
At no cost to the service member, in limited circumstances our program can assign a trained attorney to represent the service member at the formal hearing. We also hold occasional clinics providing brief advice. Service members who have been placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) are also eligible for free assistance through our Lawyers Serving Warriors® project.
For retired veterans: Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
To be eligible for CRSC a veteran must be entitled to (even if not actually receiving) both (1) retired pay from a military service branch by either serving at least 20 years of military service or being medically retired for disability (either because they received permanent disability retirement or were placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)) and (2) disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
How do I request legal assistance from NVLSP's Lawyers Serving Warriors® program?
Click here to provide us with your contact information and preliminary information
If you qualify, we will provide you an application form to complete and return to us along with a copy of your DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.) If you do not have a copy of your DD Form 214, follow the instructions to request a copy from the National Archives.