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Can military physical examinations be challenged?

Although everyone may hope for good news after receiving an annual physical, such examinations carry more significance in the military. In fact, a medical evaluation may influence the course of a military member’s career, including whether he or she might be eligible for certain benefits, promotions, or even admittance into certain military programs. Conversely, an incorrect health rating may clear a military member for duties for which he or she is no longer able or fit to perform. 

In a recent example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement, essentially apologizing for misdiagnoses made by unqualified doctors. The doctors in question had denied at least 300 veterans’ claims for traumatic brain injury at a single VA facility. Without a TBI diagnosis, the veterans were unable to receive benefits. Unfortunately, similar behavior might have occurred at other VA facilities across the country.

This particular example suggests negligence. In other situations, there might be a difference of professional opinion. Yet with so much riding on an accurate medical diagnosis or evaluation, a military member should ensure that he or she has challenged any incorrect determinations.

Are there options for challenging a physical examination or diagnosis that may be faulty? As a military law attorney, I am familiar with reviews made by physical evaluation boards (PEBs) or military medical evaluation boards (MEBs). With an attorney’s help, a military member can request an independent medical examination as a second opinion. Medical experts may also be helpful in highlighting any shortcomings in the PEB, such as the failure to do a full-body analysis or order certain tests.

Source: Disabled Vetereans, “VA ‘Greatly Regrets’ Brain Exam Scam With Unqualified Doctors,” Benjamin Krause, Aug. 14, 2015

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