The Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL) and Permanent Disability Retirement List (PDRL) are important and sometimes confusing aspects of receiving long-term disability benefits for any disability that prevents you from performing your regular duties. It is important to have a thorough understanding of how your disability rating plays into which list you’re put on and the differences between TDRL and PDRL.
Here at Woods and Woods, we have a lot of experience helping veterans navigate the complicated VA disability rating system to ensure they’re getting the maximum benefits they are eligible for. So if you’re stuck trying to parse through TDRL vs. PDRL, we are here to answer your questions.
TDRL and PDRL are essentially active duty retirements that provide you with immediate benefits if you are unable to perform your active duties. This means that if you have a long-term medical condition that renders you unable to serve, you do not have to wait until age 60 to qualify for retirement benefits. There are some key differences between the two qualifications that we will detail below.
In This Article About The Difference Between TDRL and PDRL:
- Am I TDRL or PDRL?
- What Does Being Qualified as TDRL or PDRL Entail?
- How Do TDRL and PDRL Affect My Disability Rating?
- How Is My Retired Pay Calculated?
- Can the Final TDRL Exam Increase My Rating?
- Does My Time on TDRL Count Toward My Overall Term of Service?
- How Do I Begin the Process of Getting on the TDRL or PDRL?
- How Can Woods and Woods Help?
Am I TDRL or PDRL?
TDRL stands for Temporary Disability Retirement List. You will be placed on this list if you are found to be unable to perform your active duties but the condition is too unstable to declare permanent. While on the TDRL, you will be reevaluated every 18 months to determine the degree of your disability (if it has gotten better, stayed the same, or gotten worse). Every 18 months, as a result, you may be given a new rating which will affect whether or not you stay on the TDLR, get additional benefits, or get moved from TDRL to PDRL.
The PDRL is the Permanent Disability Retirement List. Once you are on the PDRL, you don’t get follow-up exams from this board.
There are a few additional considerations that will determine whether you get put on TDRL or PDRL, including the degree of your disability and the length of time that you have served. TDRL and your VA rating work together to determine where you fall.
If you have less than 20 years of active service and a VA disability rating of 30% or higher, you will qualify for temporary retirement and be put on the TDRL. Even if you have a disability rating of 100%, TDRL will be recommended if you have been with the military for less than 20 years. Additionally, if your term of service is less than 20 years and your disability rating is below 30%, you will be separated and given TDRL severance pay. You may also be given TDRL severance pay if your condition improves after 18 months but not enough to return to active duty.
If you have more than 20 years of service and have incurred a disability of any degree, you will be recommended for permanent retirement and placed on the PDRL.
Additionally, if you are on the TDRL for more than three years and your disability remains at the same rating or increases in severity (30% or higher), you will then be moved over to the PDRL.
What Does Being Qualified as TDRL or PDRL Entail?
As a member of either the TDRL or PDRL, you are considered a retired member of the armed forces and are eligible for all the benefits that any retired service member would receive, such as:
- Disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Survivor benefit plans
- Voluntary or involuntary allotments from your retirement plan
Essentially, being placed on either TDRL or PDRL will trigger your retirement benefits. The main difference between TDRL and PDRL is that if you are on TDRL and your condition improves, you can be returned to active duty.
(We should also mention that while these are called “lists,” there isn’t actually a list. This is the name carried down from the past. If you are classified at this level, you’re “on the list” but it’s not like Uncle Sam is carrying it around like Santa Claus. This is simply some historical language that has been carried down by the VA.)
How Do TDRL and PDRL Affect My Disability Rating?
Essentially, they are connected. You need a valid disability rating to qualify for either TDRL or PDRL, and being placed on these lists will qualify you for a series of additional benefits on top of your disability pay. You can receive both VA disability and retirement pay at the same time. But simply being placed on TDRL or PDRL will not have a direct effect on your disability rating; the disability rating is used to qualify you for access to these benefits. While on TDRL, you will undergo regular exams, and, at that time, your disability rating may be adjusted.
How do Periodic Exams Affect You If You’re
Take a look at the 55-year-old rule for disabled veterans and see if your conditions are permanent.
How Is My Retired Pay Calculated?
Regardless of whether you are placed on TDRL or PDRL, the rate of pay is calculated the same way. You first have to undergo a physical examination conducted by a VA-approved physician, who will give you a VA disability rating. The ratings are listed as percentages ranging from 10% to 100% and are based on the severity of your disability and how much it affects your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The VA disability rating combined with your years of service will be used to calculate the rate of pay you will receive. If you are TDRL, you will have to undergo a physical exam, known as a TDRL review, every 18 months to have your disability rating reevaluated. Failure to appear for this exam can result in the suspension of payments.
If you are on TDRL and your disability rating drops below 30% and your term of service is less than 20 years, you will be discharged with TDRL severance pay. If your disability stabilizes, you will be transferred to the PDRL regardless of your disability rating.
Crucially, for those on the TDRL, the minimum rate of pay is 50% of your active duty salary and the maximum is 75% of your active duty salary, even if your disability rating would specify that it should be either lower or higher. This can still shift, within these specifications, during a reevaluation.
Members of the PDRL will have a more fixed rate of pay, based on their active duty base pay and their disability rating. We understand that all of this can be very confusing for veterans since the process for determining how much you will get each month is very opaque. This is why it can be useful to hire someone, like Woods and Woods, to help you sift through the system and ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of benefits each month.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
Can the Final TDRL Exam Increase My Rating?
The final TDRL exam can increase your disability rating if your condition has worsened during the intermediary time. The final TDRL exam is merely there to evaluate if your condition has stabilized and to issue a final rating before you are either returned to active duty or placed on the PDRL.
If your condition has increased in severity and decreased your ability to carry out everyday tasks, you could see an increase in your VA disability rating; however, this is not a guarantee. It is very important to present all of the available information at your final TDRL exam as it will affect your PDRL rating, which is not subject to change, and it can also affect the severance that you are offered if you are not moved to PDRL.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Does My Time on TDRL Count Toward My Overall Term of Service?
No, when you are placed on TDRL, you are considered “retired” and are not accruing time toward active duty. However, if your condition stabilizes and you are still qualified for TDRL after three years, you will be moved to PDRL regardless of how long your term of active duty was prior to going on TDRL.
How Do I Begin the Process of Getting on the TDRL or PDRL?
If you are experiencing a disability that is preventing you from performing your regular duties, you must first see a VA-approved physician to be evaluated and given a disability rating. There are many types of service-related injuries that can result in long-term disabilities and qualify you for VA disability benefits or potentially get you enrolled in the TDRL or PDRL.
In order to qualify for these programs, you must have a diagnosis that qualifies from a VA-approved doctor. You must also be able to show that this diagnosis was caused by your military duties in some way. There are many conditions where the relation is obvious, but there are also a lot of conditions where the connection is not as clear but presumed to be caused by unsafe working conditions, such as Agent Orange exposure. If you are able to prove both a severe disability and military connection, you will be given a disability rating. This combined with your years of service will be used to determine which list you are placed on and how much you will receive in benefits.
If your disability predated your term of service, you will not qualify for benefits from the VA.
A behind-the-scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
How Can Woods and Woods Help?
We have years of experience helping veterans advocate for themselves with the Veterans Affairs office. If you are feeling confused about the process of qualifying for VA disability, TDRL, or PDRL, feel free to reach out for a free, no-commitment evaluation. We will give you our honest opinion of your situation and let you know whether or not we feel that we can help you increase your monthly benefits.
If you have been denied benefits or feel that your benefits are not adequate, we are happy to advocate on your behalf to get you the benefits you deserve. We only charge a fee if we win your case, and it is only based on a percentage of back pay owed, so you never have to pay us out of pocket, and any future payments are yours in full.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
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Frequently Asked Questions
There are all kinds of privacy laws in place that we respect which can make your situation a little tricky. We take calls 24 hours a day from all over the world, however, in case your veteran wants to call us and start the process. We’ll get his or her permission to speak with you so we’ll be able to get all of the details needed for your case.
It can only help. Here’s why. The VA will use any evidence that helps your claim to give you a VA disability rating. If your TDRL exam shows your condition got worse, you can use it as evidence. If it doesn’t, then you don’t have to present it in your case. You can gather as much evidence as you want that backs up your claim. We help veterans do that, which is why we have so many veterans that have won their VA ratings.