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Can you appeal a denial of military disability benefits?

Perhaps more than other careers, the military requires physical fitness. The risks of injury can also be high, especially for those who have seen combat. Although the military provides benefits to injured service members, a Physical Evaluation Board must generally approve eligibility.

A negative PEB finding can jeopardize a service member’s career. However, it is important to realize that a service member can prepare for this evaluation, as well as appeal unfavorable outcomes.

As background, it may be helpful to understand the context in which an evaluation might arise. The first step is generally a Medical Evaluation Board, where two or more physicians will determine if a service member is fit to continue serving. If unfit, a service member’s file will be sent to the PEB, where a formal finding will be issued regarding the service member’s fitness and potential eligibility for disability benefits.

A comparison might be drawn to Social Security disability benefits. As in an administrative hearing, a service member has the opportunity to testify before the PEB under oath and present evidence in support of his or her medical condition. An appeal process is also available if a service member disagrees with the finding. However, the PEB process can be much more intimidating.

Our law firm focuses on military law, and we recommend that a service member testify at a formal PEB hearing with the assistance of legal counsel. Active duty counsel is generally offered, but a service member also has the option of hiring a civilian attorney who focuses on this area of law. As we describe on our website, we have extensive experience helping military personnel with a variety of physical evaluation appeals.

Source: FindLaw, “How do I Prepare for the Physical Evaluation Board?” copyright 2015, Thomson Reuters

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