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LDES vs. IDES

THIS INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER THE BENEFITS OF CONSULTING WITH A TRAINED LEGAL PROFESSIONAL

The Disability Evaluation System (DES) is used to determine whether a service-member is physically and mentally able to continue to serve in the US military. The DES determines the service-member’s fitness for continued military service and the appropriate benefits he/she should receive if medically separated. The two Disability Evaluation Systems in place are the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) and the Legacy Disability Evaluation System (LDES).

Most service-members seeking medical separation are entered into IDES. If requested, however, the service member can receive authorization from his/her commanding officer to waive IDES and enter instead into LDES.

However, in certain instances LDES is required. Service-members in initial entry training may be directed into LDES by their commanding officers on a case-by-case basis despite their desire to remain in IDES.

There are two major differences between the LDES and IDES systems. The first is the speed with which each case is processed; the second is the system’s integration with the VA.

The IDES process is very lengthy and can take up to twelve months or more. LDES, in contrast, usually takes between six and eight months. Processing through LDES is much quicker than IDES, so if a service-member desires to leave quickly, LDES may be the better option.

However, in IDES, the VA disability rating is integrated into the evaluation process. The service member will receive a VA Compensation and Pension exam, and the VA will examine all claimed conditions before the service member leaves active duty, including conditions not considered unfitting. If a service-member is separated or retiring due to a disability, both DOD and VA ratings will have been assigned, and receipt of his/her VA compensation should not be delayed, allowing payment to come sooner. In contrast, LDES does not calculate VA disability rating and compensation benefits. The service member will have to file claims with the VA after leaving the service. This may increase the possibility of errors occurring in filing for VA benefits, and it may take longer for veterans to receive payment.

Choosing between IDES and LDES is an important decision in receiving medical separation from the military. The evaluation system selected will affect the length of time it will take to process the conditions, future benefits the service member will receive, and the complications in obtaining benefits after separation. Because it is not possible to switch disability evaluation systems during the process, it is crucial to make the right choice from the beginning.

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