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PEB Preparation: Practice Tips

 Here is more information for those going to a formal PEB:

If the informal PEB finds the applicant unfit for duty, he/she has the right to a formal hearing with personal appearance.  DoDI 1332.18, E3, para 3 h is a useful summary of patient rights.  See also DoD Manual 1332.18V-1, DES: General Information and Legacy DES System (LCES) Time Standards and DoD Manual 1332.18-V2, DES Manual: Integrated DES System (IDES).

 What else should the military member do to prepare?

1.      Take the process seriously; recognize that intense participation and attention to detail will help win a fitting percentage.  Examinees must take responsibility – that old bromide about “a squeaking wheel” is apt.   In this vein, prudent evaluees will obtain a copy of their complete medical file, which now may be available electronically.

2.      Begin preparation at once rather than awaiting assignment of a military attorney.

3.      Have a clear goal.  Specific disability rating?  Retention?  TDRL?  Determine at the outset what finding is desired; prepare accordingly.

4.      If there is prescribed medication, depression, or PTSD be sure about the hearing date and precise location.  Make travel plans as early as possible.

5.      Review all pertinent medical and personnel records.  Document everything.  Secure witnesses, records, affidavits, and statements on relevant issues; the formal board will not independently obtain records.  Make sure the PEB has all performance reports and comments from the chain of command about current duty performance and limitations.  Include all medical updates.   Beyond data considered by the informal board, provide all documentation of medical treatment, therapy, medications [type, dosage, and frequency], referrals, sick call data, emergency room records, recent physical exams and promotions, great changes in weight, and all other pertinent information.  If there are many medications, consider a photograph showing them all. 

6.      Make sure the board, military counsel, and PEBLO all have the member’s current address, e-mail, and phone number.

7.      Respectfully remind commanders of the goal — to meet a 30% level of disability; without that, a member will be discharged with severance pay and receive few long-term benefits. Among points the commander may wish to address:  [ 1] How does the member’s medical condition affect the ability to perform military duties without restriction, limitation, or work-around  [2] What limitations exist and how long have they lasted [3] What specific tasks can the member no longer perform because of such medical limitations  [4]  What does the record show of medical appointments  taking the service member away from the job  [5] How many days of work have been missed over the past 90 days  [6] How will the applicant’s condition lessen his/her ability to serve in the primary career field vis-à-vis future assignments, both in garrison or deployed [7] How does the member’s disorder impact the unit’s ability to perform its mission

8.      Obtain statements from senior enlisted personnel and peers to support the member’s contentions on overall functionality and capacity for continued military service.

9.      To move the process along smoothly, have a duplicate copy of all data.  Bring a complete file to the hearing, to include a listing of all medications, with dosages and amounts, as well as any prosthetic devices.

10.   As soon as military counsel is assigned, contact the attorney, provide full contact information, and set deadlines for action.

11.    If possible, make sure any new documentation is available to the PEB at least 24 hours before the hearing.

12.   Set aside sufficient time to meet with military and/or civilian counsel prior to the hearing,

13.   Appear in proper dress and with shined shoes — check to see what specific military uniform is required; if formal uniform is prescribed, wear all ribbons and tabs.

14.   Seek help from the PEBLO and assigned counsel at all stages of the proceedings.

15.   Obtain dated, signed statements from those who know the applicant and his/her malady.  Supervisors, co-workers, spouse, friends, and family who see the applicant on a frequent regular basis should describe the ways in which present health affects the examinee’s ability to fully perform military obligations.  

16.   If useful, obtain statements from those who know the examinee in the civilian world.   In the past, was the applicant able to perform tasks, work a part-time job, or participate in sports?  Can he/she no longer do so? 

17.   Keep a personal diary or daily log including entries on symptoms suffered, hospital visits, and treatment sought.  Dedicated individuals often find a way to work past their difficulties.  For PEB purposes, those work-arounds (and the conditions triggering them) should be detailed.

18.   Prepare a solid personal presentation.  What was life like “before” and what is it like “now?”  Be ready to address in detail the precise medical conditions and their lifetime limitations.  Consider a “day in the life of…” approach to how the disabilities affect the applicant.

19.   Determine the mode of testimony — in person, by video conference, telephone.  It may be oral, in writing, sworn or unsworn, personally or through counsel.   [The evaluee who elects to testify cannot limit testimony to selected topics]. 

20.    Check one last time — if there is any meaningful change in medical conditions, arrange for an updated medical evaluation. 

21.   Be prepared to respond to anticipated PEB questions — how and when the injury occurred, treatment, medications and dosages, and duty limitations caused by the disability.

22.  Decide beforehand what will go into the applicant’s short closing statement.

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