At Udall’s Request, VA and DOD Partner to Notify Veterans of Eligibility for a Disability Benefits Review
Following a request he sent in August, Mark Udall announced today that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense’s Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) will work together to notify 77,000 post-9/11 veterans that they are potentially eligible to receive increased disability benefits if they appeal the decision made when they left the military. Per Udall’s suggestion, the PDBR will let over 5,000 Colorado veterans know they can apply to have the board review their records – which could result in higher benefits or even full medical retirement.
The PDBR was established as part of the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 to allow Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to appeal their service-assigned disability ratings to ensure they receive the services and benefits they have earned. The PDBR has found that 56 percent of the veterans who have applied received higher combined disability ratings following a review — but while approximately 77,000 veterans are eligible to appeal nationwide, only 2,411 veterans have applied since 2008. It should be noted that the PDBR cannot lower a previously standing disability determination — ratings can only be upgraded or confirmed.
“I want to thank the VA and the DOD for working together to make sure our veterans get accurate disability ratings and benefits. The PDBR was set up to help post-9/11 veterans get the service-related disability and retirement benefits they deserve, but the program is being underutilized, which has left many veterans with inaccurate ratings and possibly inadequate treatment for the injuries they sustained while serving our nation,” Udall said. “A partnership between the PDBR and the VA will help make the program more effective by ensuring that our post-9/11 veterans know they can apply to have their disability ratings re-evaluated. By assuring veterans that their original ratings can’t be downgraded in the appeal, I hope to see many more veterans apply to PDBR and get the benefits they should have earned to begin with.”
Colorado has the PDBR’s third-largest eligible population of veterans in the country. To make sure veterans get the disability and retirement benefits they deserve, Udall wrote to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in August suggesting that, rather than relying on the Pentagon’s list of eligible veterans, he allow the PDBR to use the VA database, which has more up-to-date contact information for the veterans eligible for the review. The mailings are scheduled to start in January.