SMDRP Update: Streamlining and Standardizing MEPS Medical Processing (2024)

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  • Published
  • By Joseph Wax
  • U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command

With hundreds of medical providers of various specialties working at 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) and two Remote Processing Stations across the country, standardizing the medical qualification process for military applicants is a challenge.

United States Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) took that challenge head on with recent updates to the Supplemental Policy Guidance (SMPG) and Supporting Medical Documentation Review Program (SMDRP).

"Standardization of medical qualification decision making is one of USMEPCOM's top priorities because it is a top priority for our recruiting partners," said Army Col. Megan Stallings, USMEPCOM commander. "Our recruiting partners want to know that their applicants will get the same treatment and timely decision no matter where they go, and these two policy updates are one effort to get after that end state."

When Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 6130.03, Volume 1, Medical Standards for Military Service was updated in November 2022, USMEPCOM began work on interpreting how it would impact medical processing and subsequently updating USMEPCOM’s medical standard operating procedures, the SMPG, internal guidance for MEPS medical providers, and the SMDRP, guidance for providers and recruiters to streamline medical processing.

“The SMPG actually goes through every condition in the DODI (DOD instruction 6130.03) and addresses what our providers should be thinking about with that condition,” said Army Col. Kevin Cummings, USMEPCOM command surgeon. “So, that’s like the bible for our providers. We updated that in December. And then the second policy is the SMDRP. We developed the SMDRP as a guide for our providers and our recruiters, as they are collecting applicant medical history.”

In addition, the updated SMDRP also establishes as new a policy of only allowing MEPS medical providers two records requests per condition disclosed in an applicant’s medical prescreen (DOD Form 2807-2). MEPS medical providers look through each prescreen and determine whether records are needed for any of the conditions listed, and whether documentation already exists via the Health Information Exchange (HIE) on Military Health System (MHS) Genesis.

“One of the most frustrating parts of the interaction in the prescreen process between the recruiters and the applicant, and the MEPS, is the back and forth,” said Cummings. “In an effort to try to get after that, and to provide some structure for both the MEPS and the recruiters, we lay out in the new SMDRP that you get two records requests per condition. The new policy says that after two times, you just authorize the applicant to come in.”

However, just because an applicant is cleared to come into MEPS to begin processing, doesn’t mean that they will be qualified to join. The new policy directs the MEPS medical providers to disqualify an applicant if they feel like there is still insufficient data relating to their prior health condition.

“And so, for the SMDRP, that's the biggest change is that policy adjustment,” said Cummings. “Make two requests. If you can't get it in two requests, then you make your decision. We won't hold the applicant up at MEPCOM any longer. We will move them through the process and then the waiver authority can review.”

It is not uncommon for an applicant processing through MEPS medical to have some sort of disqualifying health condition. However, the process has always included a waiver review by the applicant’s chosen branch of service. For instance, a future Sailor may be ineligible according to DOD instruction, but the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine may be willing to grant a waiver for that individual to join the Navy.

“This really is the big key to emphasize,” said Cummings. “There may be recruiters out there that will say, after two requests, ‘I’m safe, I'm good.’ But that's not the case, because your waiver authority may very well say, ‘You know what, you really did need to get that information.’ And so, the requirement for the information doesn't go away.”

As the United States military celebrates the 50th anniversary of the all-volunteer force, recruiting young men and women to serve in the U.S. military is as challenging as ever. That’s why USMEPCOM is dedicated to ensuring an equitable and standardized processing roadmap for applicants.

While the SMPG is an internal document to MEPS medical providers, the SMDRP is available to the military service recruiting liaisons online at:

SMDRP Update: Streamlining and Standardizing MEPS Medical Processing (2024)


What percentage of people get disqualified at MEPS? ›

Military entrance stations conducted 215,000 medical exams in fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Defense Department. Of all applicants, nearly 30% are disqualified during the exam.

Does MEPS really check medical records? ›

Yes, they are allowed to look at any medical records that can demonstrate a preexisting condition, many of which occur well before someone is 18.

How long does MEPS take to process medical documents? ›

The MEPS process can take weeks or even months depending on what was sent up. If you sent up a bible of medical documents, that could be why. Most recruiters are given a tracker which lists applicants and their MEPS status.

How to pass MEPS? ›

Tips to Prepare for MEPS
  1. MEDICAL HISTORY & DOCUMENTATION. Let your recruiter know about any past medical conditions and bring related medical documentation. ...
  2. LODGING & MEALS. Your recruiter will help you find the nearest MEPS location to you. ...
  3. WHAT TO WEAR. ...
  5. SELF-CARE. ...

What are the odds of getting a medical waiver approved? ›

Among all prospective enlisted applicants, the military services approved 77 percent of 54,206 medical waiver requests received from fiscal 2021 through 2022, according to a 2023 Department of Defense Inspector General report.

What is a good MEPS score? ›

If you have a diploma, a score of 31 can qualify you to join the Army or National Guard. The Marine Corps requires a 35, the Navy a 35 and the Air Force a 36. The Coast Guard has the highest standard with a score of 40.

How far back does MEPS pull medical records? ›

This would be a typical situation where a recruit could get waiver approval for the use of these drugs. The new system is called the Prescription Medication Reporting System (PMRS) and is used to pull seven years of prescription histories for all civilian recruits going to MEPS.

What disqualifies you from MEPS? ›

Medical Conditions That Can Keep You from Joining the Military
  • Abdominal Organs and Gastrointestinal System. The following conditions may disqualify you from military service: ...
  • Blood and Blood-Forming Tissue Diseases. ...
  • Dental. ...
  • Ears. ...
  • Hearing. ...
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. ...
  • Upper Extremities. ...
  • Lower extremities.
May 8, 2012

What do MEPS doctors look for? ›

They will test your vision… …and hearing… …and blood pressure. You will undergo a series of maneuvers to determine your physical capabilities. You will have blood drawn to test for the HIV virus. You will have a drug and alcohol test.

How long does a military medical waiver take to get approved? ›

You should know that it can take up to 30 days to schedule your initial medical evaluation, 60 days for completion and possibly another 30 days for a medical waiver if required. This can result in up to a four-month process for candidates.

Does MEPS have 10 day medical review? ›

MEPS medical staff have 10 days to review prescreens for applicants with 16 or more encounters. “Never before has an applicant been able to have medical conditions, disclose them, and come in two days later,” said Dr. Laurence Batmazian, Buffalo MEPS chief medical officer (CMO).

What medical conditions disqualify you from the Air Force? ›

Disqualifying arterial diseases and disorders include, but are not limited to, aneurysm, dissection, arteriosclerosis, collagen vascular disease, inflammatory conditions, infectious diseases, vasospastic disease, and diabetic vascular disease.

How many people fail MEPS? ›

1.35 million applicants received a MEPS physical exam from FY2016-2020. There was an upward trend in applications from FY 2016-2019, then a drop in FY 2020. 13-16% of applicants were medically disqualified.

What not to do at MEPS? ›

Profanity and offensive wording or pictures on clothing is not tolerated. Hats are not permitted inside the MEPS. If you wear either eyeglasses or contacts, bring them along with your prescription and lens case. Bathe or shower the night before your examination.

How many people make it past MEPS? ›

Of the disqualified 20% about 2–5% are salvageable depending on how hard the applicant is willing to work, and how much time the recruiter and the station commander are willing to risk on them.

What happens if MEPS disqualifies you? ›

If an applicant is medically disqualified at a MEPS, they go home without entering the DEP even if they are likely to receive a waiver for their disqualifying medical condition.

What happens if they catch you lying at MEPS? ›

To answer your question, if you lied at the time of your enlistment about prior drug use and mental illness, it is possible you could be charged at a court-martial (or more likely separated) for fraudulent enlistment under Article 83, which you can read more about here: ...

What happens if I lie at MEPS? ›

This will delay your enlistment process, if allowed at all, the determination lies within the Medical commander of the MEPS. Personally, as a former Army Recruiter and Station Commander if I had my way you wouldn't be allowed to join at all. The reason is simple: the Army doesn't need dishonest people within the ranks.


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