Disability Evaluation System (DES)

23 Aug 2017 | Wounded Warrior Regiment

During combat operations or training, Marines may incur a wound, illness, or injury that has a long-term impact on their lives. Exceptional medical care and adequate healing time enables most Marines to return to full duty status. If a Marine is unable to return to full and unrestricted duty, they will be evaluated for disability conditions through the Legacy Disability Evaluation System (LDES) or the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), where a determination will be made on their fitness for continued military service.


What is LDES?

The Legacy Disability Evaluation System (LDES) was rolled back out as an option in June 2016 for those service members that desire to exit the service in a more expeditious manner. The Department of the Navy Physical Evaluation Board will make a fitness determination, and also award the DoD disability rating utilizing the same rating manual as the VA. It will be up to the Marine/Sailor to initiate their own VA claim with a veteran service organization, or through eBenefits once a discharge date has been established. Those with a golden job opportunity, or a short fused deadline to enroll in college normally elect the LDES over the IDES process.


What is IDES?

IDES is a joint program of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For Marines determined medically unfit for continued service, the goal is to close the gap between separation from active duty, and the receipt of VA benefits and compensation. The VA performs one medical exam that determines fitness for continued military service, as well as provides the basis for the VA to rate the Marine’s disabilities if they have been determined unfit by the Department of the Navy Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). The VA determined disability rating, for the specifically military unfitting condition(s), is used by DoD as the basis for determining eligibility for military separation and retirement benefits.


Referral to IDES

The mere presence of a medical condition or impairment is not enough to refer a Marine to the IDES or to determine they are unfit and entitled to disability benefits if referred. A wounded, ill or injured (WII) Marine should be referred to IDES when the medical impairments impact the ability to perform military duties appropriate to their office, grade, rank or rating. Once referred to the IDES, a Marine’s IDES case will be managed by a Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer (PEBLO). Within the Department of the Navy, there are two different uses of the term PEBLO:


1. Military Treatment Facility (MTF) Medical Boards Section Clerks who develop and process IDES case files and, in some MTFs, perform all aspects of IDES counseling


2. Secretary of the Navy Council of Review Boards field level Disability Evaluation System counselors are permanently assigned to the eight largest Navy Medical Centers, hospitals and clinics to work IDES counseling. However, they do not work directly on the development of the IDES case file and are often referred to as the “back end of the process” PEBLOs.

IDES Timeline


The IDES has four phases: Medical Evaluation Board (MEB), Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), Transition and VA Disability Compensation Benefits Phase, totaling 295 days. Following an injury or illness, an appropriate period of time (typically 12 months) is allotted to each Marine to receive treatment and, hopefully, to rehabilitate and recover. Those who are unable to return to full duty are referred to the IDES.

For more information about the DES process, contact our Sergeant Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center at 877–487–6299. You can also review our fact sheets on resources and support at http://woundedwarriorregiment.org/index.cfm/resources-publications/fact-sheet-library/.

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