HOW TO PUSH BACK WHEN THE PEB DEVIATES FROM THE VASRD
Recently, I was confronted with a situation in which a prospective client’s IPEB decision rated a thoracolumbar spine condition under VA Code 5003 for degenerative arthritis alone because the members felt that the primary injury was to the thoracic spine. Since this spinal segment has very little range of motion, the IPEB members ignored a range of motion exam showing significant limitation of motion in the thoracolumbar spine. In doing so, they ignored the fact that the VA had combined the thoracic and lumbar spine segments for rating purposes back in 2003. This was corrected by pointing out that the plain language of Section 8.1 of DOD 1332.18, as issued on November 10, 2022, does not allow for any deviation from the VASRD or the applicable interpretation of the VARSD by the federal court system. Thus, they had to accept the range of motion exam findings for the thoracolumbar spine as a whole and could not separate these spinal segments for rating purposes. So, the lesson here is to carefully read this instruction in conjunction with your service-specific PEB instruction and the VASRD to ensure that everyone follows the rules as they should be.