Frequently Asked Questions


Under What Authority Does the Board Operate?

On September 29, 1979, Congress amended Public Law 96-76, Public Health Service Act, Section 312, Section 221a (a) (12) (42 U.S.C. 213a (a) (12)) extending to the Commissioned Corps the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1552 allowing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, acting through a board of civilians, to revise the record of any Corps officer when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. The Board has the authority to correct any record in the Department pertaining to the service of an officer provided the correction pertains to an error or removing an injustice. The Secretary is also authorized to pay any amount that becomes due from the U.S. Government as a result of correcting an error or removing an injustice.

Who Serves on The Board?

Three persons are selected from a rotating panel of senior level (GS-15), SES or equivalent employees of the Department of Health and Human Services to serve as Board members. One member is the Chairperson. Active duty Corps officers cannot serve on the Board. The Board meets in Executive Session to determine whether an error or an injustice exists and recommends corrective action to the Approving Official based on documentation in the record. The Director, Program Support Center, is the Approving Official on all Board recommendations. Except when procured by fraud, a correction by the Board is: "final and conclusive on all officers of the United States." The Board's decision is appealable to the US Court of Claims. The case record developed by the Board is admissible evidence in court.

How Does the Board Function?

The Board may act only on the evidence you provide, may request more proof or, in rare cases, may convene a hearing. It may refuse to consider your appeal if you do not provide sufficient proof to prove the existence of an error or an injustice. It may also refuse to consider your appeal if the Board does not have the jurisdiction to determine the matter presented or if it cannot grant the relief you request.

The Board can uphold your entire appeal or grant partial relief. If your appeal is upheld, the Board can instruct the Corps to make the appropriate correction to your record and pay you any amount that becomes due as a result of correcting an error or removing an injustice. If your appeal is denied, no correction of your record is necessary. The Corps is the primary means through which Board decisions are implemented. The Corps acts under the authority granted by the Board to correct an error or remove an injustice. The Corps informs the Board of the status of implementation of all Board decisions.

Who Can File an Appeal?

Any officer or former officer can apply to the Board. The heirs, guardians or executors of an officer or his or her estate can also appeal to the Board, if the officer is unable to act on his or her own behalf. A legal representative in the event of the death, incapacity or unavailability of an officer need not be an attorney. The appeal must be signed by the officer alleging an error or an injustice unless that person is incapable of filing the appeal or is deceased or cannot be located.

Can I Get Help with My Appeal?

Yes: A number of service organizations such as chapters in your area of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans may assist you. In addition to these organizations, the Correction Boards in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy also may assist you. All boards were established under the same statute. You also have the option of obtaining an attorney, at your own expense, to assist/represent you but be aware that the Board has no authority to award attorney fees regardless of the outcome of your appeal.

When Should I File My Appeal?

Your appeal should be filed within three years after you discover an alleged error or an injustice. If you file after the deadline, you must submit evidence to support waiving the deadline. The Board may excuse a late filing if it finds that it is in the interest of justice. You should delay filing your appeal until after you have exhausted all effective administrative remedies available to you by law or regulation. These may include filing a grievance or appealing to the DOD Office of Hearings and Appeals, if applicable.

What Information Should I Submit?

You are responsible for providing the evidence necessary to support your appeal. This means describing the exact nature of an alleged error or injustice and offering proof of the existence or occurrence of the error or injustice. It also means organizing the arguments to be presented and procuring all documentation necessary to support those arguments. The proof submitted can include copies of pertinent records, relevant regulations, letters of corroboration of alleged facts from colleagues and so forth. You should also provide or authorize the submission of the results of a grievance or other administrative action or investigation or examination that supports your appeal. Private Counsel may be obtained to assist you in organizing and presenting evidence. The expense of counsel is your responsibility. For the most part, the Board deliberates on the basis of the written record provided by you and the Office of the Surgeon General. You should keep a copy of all documents you send to the Board. The Board prefers electronic submission via email with your complete application in Word or PDF. If you file by mail, include a CD ROM (Microsoft Word or PDF) that contains all documentation or comments you submit in writing.

Please be advised that the Board meets in Executive Session and retains jurisdiction of your appeal until a final decision is rendered. All correspondence and inquiries should be sent to the Executive Secretary at the address show. Should you have any comments or questions, please call or write to the Executive Secretary.

You must keep the Board informed of your current contact information after filing your appeal. If the Board cannot reach you, your appeal may be closed without action until you provide a current address. Please keep your address, daytime telephone number and email address up-to-date so the Board can contact you, if necessary.

What Happens After I File My Appeal?

A copy of your appeal, after acceptance by the Board, is sent to the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) for corrective action. If corrective action is not taken, an Advisory Opinion is sent to the Board, and the Board sends you the Advisory Opinion for review and comment. This allows you to make sure that your view of the facts and circumstances are fully set forth in the documents submitted to the Board members.

Please note that the Board will not consider your case until the OSG Advisory Opinion is received and you have had an opportunity to review and comment.

What About an Oral Hearing?

You may request to appear before the Board in Bethesda, Maryland in person or by counsel or in person with counsel at your own expense. However, it is not necessary for you to appear in person to ensure that the Board considers your appeal in a fair and impartial manner. The Board grants a hearing only if the evidence indicates that a hearing would likely provide additional proof relevant to your appeal that is not otherwise obtainable from the written record. If your request for a hearing is approved, you are contacted to set a hearing date.

When Can I Expect A Decision on My Appeal?

Your appeal is processed in the order in which received. It is processed more rapidly if complete, specific and detailed evidence is submitted. A complete appeal includes a filled-in Application to the Board for Correction of Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Records (PSC-54), accompanied by substantial proof of an alleged error or injustice. You are notified of all matters regarding the processing of your appeal including the final decision. Because a Board cannot convene until it receives the OSG (DCCPR) Advisory Opinion, it may be several months before your case is decided. Decisions favorable to the officer are processed retroactively.

Can I Get Reconsideration of an Unfavorable Board Decision?

Yes. If your appeal is denied, you may ask for reconsideration provided you furnish new and relevant documentation not previously considered which, if true, would change the decision on your appeal. The denial of a request for reconsideration must be approved by the Approving Official.

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