Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are forms that guide a physician during an exam to ensure that all the information needed to correctly rate a disabled veteran’s conditions is properly recorded.

The VA released new Public Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) in March 2021.

Before this date, DBQs were intended mainly for use by VA staff physicians or VA contract physicians when performing C&P Exams. The new Public DBQs can now be completed by a veteran’s other health care providers (VA or civilian) and submitted as additional evidence in support of a claim or appeal.

It is best for a DBQ to be completed by the health care provider that knows the medical condition the best, either because they have treated it for the longest period of time or because they are the most qualified in the field (i.e. specialists). The VA always gives more weight to evidence that comes from these sources as they are the most likely to provide credible and pertinent information.

The VASRD has very specific requirements for rating every condition, and if the required information is not properly recorded in the veteran’s medical records, the VA will have to send the claim back in order to gather the proper data, thus delaying the entire disability process. If properly used, DBQs prevent this delay by ensuring that the required information is always recorded for every condition.

For example, to rate a scar, the exact dimensions of the scar must be recorded. To ensure that this happens correctly, the Scar DBQ contains a section that prompts the physician to record every measurement needed to rate the scar.

Scar DBQ

There are more than 60 different DBQs. The majority are for entire body parts or systems, like respiratory conditions, but there are a few specific conditions, like sleep apnea, that have their own DBQs.

Similarly, there are some conditions that do not really have a DBQ that fits quite right. For these, the physician can use the closest one or not use one at all. As long as the appropriate tests are performed and the correct information is recorded in a veteran’s medical records, a DBQ is not essential. They are merely assistive devices.

It is important to note that DBQs are used when applying for both disability and pension. Because of this, there is often information required on a DBQ that is not necessary for rating a particular condition for disability but is necessary for pension purposes. Regardless, as long as it is properly filled out, you should be good to go for your disability.

If you are trying to get your civilian health care provider to fill out a DBQ but they are hesitant or refuse, don’t worry. Again, DBQ’s are not essential. As long as your provider records the information necessary to rate the condition in their exam notes, you can submit those instead. Simply Find Your Condition on our site, take note of the information used to rate it, and let your provider know what tests to perform and information to record.

You can find the complete list of Public Disability Benefits Questionnaires here.

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What is a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)?

A Disability Benefits Questionnaire is a form that guides a physician during an exam to ensure that all the information needed to correctly rate a disabled veteran's conditions is properly recorded.

Do I need to have DBQs filled out for my conditions?

The VA can fully process a claim without DBQs as long as the information needed to rate your conditions is clearly included in your medical records.

Can only VA physicians fill them out?

No. The Public DBQs can be filled out by any civilian provider, but are strongest when completed by the physician that knows your condition the best.

What if my VA physician didn't fill one out at my C&P Exam?

Most VA physicians will use them, but it's okay if they do not. Check their notes from the exam. As long as they included the information necessary to rate your conditions, then that is all that matters.

Am I supposed to submit the questionnaire?

Yes, any Disability Benefits Questionnaire you have completed by your providers apart from the C&P Exam must be submitted by you with your claim or appeal.

What if the physician skipped some of the questions?

Many of the questionnaires are very long and really don't need to be. These forms are used for both disability and pension purposes, so many of the questions are not applicable to rating your conditions. Check how your conditions are rated on our site. As long as the information needed to rate the conditions and the medical history necessary to support service-connection is included, then that is good enough.

The physician recorded false information. What do I do?

If the physician erroneously recorded test results, symptoms, etc., make sure that you provide additional evidence that shows the correct information, like the official test report, other medical records that show correct symptoms, etc. The VA will look at all the information submitted. If clear evidence proves the physician's statement false, then they will simply ignore it when determining your ratings. If you do not have enough proof, you may need to seek additional medical opinions that you can submit with your claim.

What if my claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, you will need to address the reason for the denial in an appeal. The VA will note their reasoning on the Rating Decision. If the denial is due to lack of medical evidence, you can submit additional evidence along with your appeal.

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