Gates: Follow law on PTSD-disability rating

By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Nov 22, 2008 15:29:31 EST

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued a policy stating that the military will follow a new law requiring that service members being medically retired for post-traumatic stress disorder be rated at least 50 percent disabled, a provision of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act.

But the Pentagon is ignoring another provision of the Act that requires a review board to be set up for medical evaluation cases, and has even added some pain to service members who feel they have been wronged: Decisions by the board, whenever it is formed, will not be retroactive.

The Physical Disability Board of Review was mandated by Congress to check the fairness and accuracy of troops’ disability cases. The Defense Department decided that the board will review only conditions found unfitting — which advocates for service members say leaves out any diagnosis that should have been included but wasn’t.

They say it also excludes cases in which lower-rated conditions were found unfitting while higher-rated conditions were found fitting — allowing the military to spend less money on medical separation cases.

Now a new memo states that decisions of the board, which was supposed to be set up in April, will not be retroactive. The memo, posted on the Military Health System Web site, states: “Any change to the rating is effective on the date of final decision by the service secretary.”

In other words, service members will not receive back pay for incorrect ratings.


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