So you’re a Service Member that has been dealing with one or more medical conditions for a considerable amount of time without improvement, and your Medical Provider/Specialist has now said the words that strike panic and shock into you – “We’re going to have to Med Board you.” At this moment, many thoughts are probably going through your mind:
- What do I do now?
- Will I find another job?
- How long will this take?
- How will I pay my bills?
- Where am I going to live?
- What about my GI Bill?
- Can I fight this?
- Is it worth fighting this?
- What does this mean for my family?
Once you start going through these, there may be a moment that is a relief that all of the struggles of medical issues seems to be at an end. This is normal.
Once the initial shock and reaction passes, you then will probably go into the natural “Form a Battle Plan” mode, and want to chart out every event that will happen from here on out. This process is by no means a race. However, there are many things you can do that will aid you and your family in the process.
Here’s your start-up kit for the MEB Process – The Primer:
First off, make a list of every medical issue that has happened during service. Make notes as to what the injury is, when it happened, and when you were treated for it. This is key when tying in service-connection of conditions.
Go to where you get your medical care and request a copy of your medical records. Go through the records and make placeholders (Post-It Notes will be your new friend) to the conditions. I recommend getting a color-coding system together to keep your conditions straight. This will go hand on hand with making your list.
Once you have your list together, look over the VA Schedule of Ratings to learn what all can get a rating for your VA and DOD ratings. DOD and VA rate things under the same schedule, but run under 2 different criteria. DOD only considers conditions that are deemed to be Duty-Limiting, whereas VA takes all service-connected conditions into account. DOD magic number is 30% for retirement, and 30% is a good number for VA, which will get you hiring preference for government jobs if you ever decide to go that route (more on government job preferences in a later post). Here’s the link to the Schedule of Ratings:
The next link is to a MS Excel Spreadsheet that will help you project the overall VA Disability Rating. VA Disability Math is strange, so the spreadsheet does all the math for you. The explanation is they start with the highest rated condition, and subtract that from 100% (so with a top condition of 50%, down to 50%). After that, the next highest condition is subtracted as a percentage of the remaining percentage (example – the next one is 40%, so 40% of 50%, or 20% in reality), and so on. It’s a pain to do the calculations by hand, so the spreadsheet makes it easier.
This is the first of many steps. Remember that you are your best advocate in the process. Even though you will have people working with you during the process (Case Manager, Primary Care Manager, Staff Counsel, etc.), this is a process where the results will affect you and your family for the rest of your life.