When Will My Military Formal Physical Evaluation Board (FPEB) Lawyer Contact Me?

By: Joel Pettit • May 11, 2023

Having worked as an active-duty Informal Physical Evaluation Board (IPEB) attorney at Camp Lejeune, NC, then as an FPEB attorney at the Washington Navy Yard, I can tell you this: the number of cases ebbs and flows because of so many variables that there is no telling when your case will be scheduled with any certainty. Anyone who claims that the PEB does not have the tools to conduct hearings in a timely manner is simply misinformed. The tools are there, but the people may not be. Staffing and personnel issues have, do, and will continue to plague every judicial or administrative process. To assume the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) is exempt is ludicrous. 

For instance, PEB Liaison Officer (PEBLO) staffing. If a PEBLO is sick, on leave, or retires, paper casefiles can languish unattended on desks, in filing cabinets, or in boxes for weeks. More confusing is why this happens with electronic files. Put simply, there is not a mechanism to automatically reassign cases when a PEBLO’s electronic profile is deleted. Service members are usually stuck calling anyone they can to find out where their file is located, or in which phase their case resides. PEB-member staffing also plays a significant role in case delays. Because IPEB and FPEB staff are largely comprised of military personnel, their efficiency can be severely hampered by PCS orders, promotions, deployments, etc. This is especially true for Reservist FPEB hearings that require at least one member to be a Reservist.

Concerning attorneys specifically, my clients repeatedly ask why they do not get a call or an email from their counsel sooner? It is this simple: DODI 1332.18, section 4.5 states: “Assigned government legal counsel will consult with the Service member at least 24 hours before the scheduled FPEB or FPEB appeal.” Of course, this is a ridiculous standard. Making things worse, recruiting, hiring, and training government FPEB attorneys is a monumental task. Because quality of government counsel can vary widely, supervisory attorneys must pair seasoned attorneys with less experienced ones to guide newer counsel through complex cases, further straining the most qualified government attorneys who already have a full caseload.

This all results in long wait times for hearings to be scheduled, then alarmingly short prep time for clients and attorneys to review the client’s administrative file, medical records, and VA examinations; assess the case, spot the issues to be addressed, and plan to gather evidence; then review the evidence, mark it for submission, and submit the final petition to the PEB by the filing deadline – usually 12 noon EST the day before the hearing. Of course, this assumes there are no witnesses to prep for testimony.

For these reasons, if you want to ensure your case is thoroughly prepared, please contact Joel Pettit Law; we will devote the time and attentention you and your family deserve.

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