AIR FORCE - AFI 36-3212
PHYSICAL EVALUATION FOR RETENTION, RETIREMENT AND SEPARATION
|Publication Date:||15 July 2019|
Purpose and Basics of the Disability Evaluation System (DES).
To maintain a fit and vital force, the SecAF may remove service members from duty who (1) can no longer perform the duties of their office, grade, rank or rating; (2) represent a decided or obvious medical risk, or (3) impose unreasonable requirements on the military. Service members, who meet one or more of these criteria, are referred to the DES for a fitness for duty assessment. The DES determines if the service member is fit to be returned to duty or unfit for continued military service. When deemed unfit, the Air Force (AF) transitions the member from service and, as appropriate, provides compensation when the member's military career ends due to a physical disability (refer to DoDI 1332.18, Appendix to Enclosure 3, paragraph 2).
The DES Roadmap is depicted in Figure 1.1. Additional overview information may be found by doing a keyword search "Disability Evaluation System" on myPers. Note: Chapter 1 provides an overview of the DES; Chapters 2-8 provide guidance that support the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) Informal and Formal Physical Evaluation Board process. Also, a list of acronyms are found in Attachment 1.
Service members referred for a fitness assessment proceed through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process unless approved for the Legacy Disability Evaluation System (LDES) process. Service members make their election for the LDES using the memo at Attachment 6. The IDES, enacted by law in 2007, established a partnership between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure timely case processing and seamless transition of service members approved for disability separation or retirement.
The LDES process is an exception to the IDES policy. A service member may request processing through LDES, or a commander may direct a service member, to include Initial Entry Recruits, with potentially unfitting physical disabilities into the LDES when processing through the IDES would have detrimental impact on the member or the AF. LDES requests require approval by the AF Military Treatment Facility (MTF) Commander or designee (0-6 or GS-15 equivalent or higher) and service members shall be advised of and offered the opportunity to enroll in the VA Benefits Delivery at Discharge or apply for other appropriate VA disability compensation programs. (T-0).
Service members electing to process through LDES must acknowledge in writing that he or she had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel regarding the procedural differences between the LDES and the IDES. (T-0).
Service members who have entered into the LDES per their request cannot be moved into the IDES.
ARC members with a condition that is not in the line of duty (non-compensable) will be processed for a non-duty related fitness determination through the DES. (T-0). (See Chapter 4, Section 4E).
Service members can expect to receive one of the following outcomes from the DES: return to duty, discharge with severance pay, temporary disability retired list, permanent medical retirement, or discharge without benefits (see paragraph 3.17).