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How does a non-deployable medical condition affect a DBA claim?

A worker seeking employment after a Defense Base Act injury will have a pre-existing medical condition that may make it difficult to find work overseas. If a work-related injury prevents deployment, the injured worker may qualify for permanent disability benefits. However, the employee will have to meet certain eligibility requirements before he or she can collect payment for a non-deployable medical condition.

Non-Deployable Medical Conditions Under the Defense Base Act

Employees working with the Department of Defense are required to be medically and psychologically fit to perform the duties required under the contract. While a pre-existing medical condition does not necessarily disqualify a worker from resuming overseas employment, a medical evaluation must be done to determine the effects that the climate, job duties, nature of the work, or operational conditions of the deployment location will have on the injured employee.

Before a worker may be deployed overseas, the Department of Defense requires that his or her medical condition must be:

  • Stable. A pre-deployment medical evaluator must be willing to state that the condition is not reasonably likely to worsen during deployment (taking into account the work environment, daily duties, and contractor-provided medical care available in-theater) and not require any personal accommodations or impose work limitations.
  • Not life-threatening. The condition must be of a nature that, if worsening occurs, the aggravation of the injury will not likely have life-threatening effects or have a negative impact on the mission.
  • Treatable in-theater. A worker’s ongoing treatment for the condition must (including medications, routine visits, and physical therapy) be available and accessible at the deployment location. In addition, medications needed for treatment must not have special handling requirements, such as a need for refrigeration. 

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury while working overseas, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible about your rights to benefits and recovery under the Defense Base Act. To learn if your employer could be liable for medical costs, income replacement, and death benefits, please feel free to search our library articles or read through our free book, DBA Resource Guide.

William Turley
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