What is the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)?
When a service member is rated 30% or higher from the military’s Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), he or she will be placed on either the TDRL or Permanent Disability Retirement List (PDRL). While on TDRL, a veteran will undergo periodic evaluations to determine whether they should be continued on the TDRL, transferred to the PDRL, or separated with severance.
How long does TDRL last?
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 modified the period of time a veteran may remain on the TDRL. For a veteran placed on the TDRL prior to January 01, 2017, he or she may remain on the TDRL for no greater than five (5) years. For those placed on the TDRL on or after January 01, 2017, he or she may remain on the TDRL for no greater than three (3) years. I believe this is a positive change for veterans placed on the TDRL because there must be finality; either transfer to the PDRL or separated with severance, in a shorter period of time. Anyone who has been placed on the TDRL knows the process is stressful and full of unknowns.
What happens if you reach the end of the TDRL period and there is no finality?
By federal statute, a veteran may remain on the TDRL for a maximum of three or five years (see above). At the conclusion of that period, they must be removed from the TDRL. The Department of Defense (DoD) is prevented from conferring benefits to veterans on the TDRL past the statutory maximum period. Some veterans reach the conclusion of the maximum period and their benefits cease. Then, they wonder what happened. Benefits must cease (DoD has no leeway); therefore, a veteran on the TDRL must be proactive to avoid reaching the end of the TDRL period without finality.
How can a veteran on TDRL be proactive?
Ensure that your respective military service branch has your current address, phone number, e-mail, etc. By keeping your contact information updated, you can be contacted ensuring you are provided notice of upcoming TDRL reevaluation appointments. TDRL reevaluations occur at different times. Some veterans undergo TDRL reevaluations within six (6) months of placement on TDRL, while others wait 18 months or longer. If you are approaching the maximum three or five year mark, reach out to your respective service branch. Explain to them what is occurring and that you need finality prior to the expiration of that period.
Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Qualifying for a Disability Retirement, https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/disability.html, (last viewed August 14, 2017).
National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2017).