By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON—The time for injured and ill servicemembers to get through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process from their date of referral to their notification of benefits has been slashed more than half in the last decade.
DoD said the time frame now is an average of 250 days, a dramatic drop from an average of 540 days prior to implementation of the system in 2007.
“The IDES framework continues to exceed expectations,” said Terry Adirim, MD, DoD deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Health Services and Policy Oversight.
Adirim made her comments at a subcommittee hearing on IDES, which was created to eliminate the duplicate medical examination and rating determinations within DoD and VA for troops who have conditions that make them unable to perform their military duties. The system provides a single set of disability examinations and a single-source disability rating that are used by both departments.
In FY 2017, more than 22,000 veterans and military personnel were enrolled in the IDES program.
Willie C. Clark, deputy under secretary for field operations at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), told lawmakers that VA’s portion of the IDES process now takes an average of 81 days, which is 102 days faster than when the subcommittee held a hearing on the topic in May 2014.
“VA continues to collaborate with DoD on ways to improve the IDES execution while remaining focused on timeliness and accuracy,” Clark pointed out.