As of March 2021, the VA has released a new library of Public Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) intended entirely for use by the veteran’s personal health care providers.
In early 2020, the VA removed public access to their previous library of Disability Benefits Questionnaires. These previous DBQs were intended for use by VA staff physicians or contract physicians when performing Compensation and Pension Exams (C&P Exams) for VA disability and pension benefits.
The VA did not intend to have physicians who weren’t performing the C&P Exams complete these DBQs, however, it became a popular practice for veterans to have other physicians complete a DBQ to submit along with their disability claims. While the VA willingly accepted these additional DBQs as legitimate evidence, they began seeing more and more DBQs being submitted from physicians that did not seem to have a history with the veteran, making them concerned about fraudulent activity.
The Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation discussed this issue at many of their meetings during 2019 and 2020, resulting in the VA removing public access to the DBQs in early 2020.
After the removal of public access, DBQs could only be used by approved VA physicians in association with C&P Exams. However, the VA still accepted and encouraged the submission of medical records and other legitimate supporting evidence from the veteran’s other health care providers.
Since the removal, the VA has worked to create a new library of Public DBQs (now available as of March 2021) that are solely intended to assist health care providers outside of the VA Disability System to complete exams of their veteran patients to ensure that the necessary information to properly rate the veteran’s conditions is correctly recorded.
Veterans and service members preparing for discharge can now give these Public DBQs to their health care providers in preparation of submitting a new claim, a claim for an increased evaluation, an appeal, etc.
The VA intends for these new Public DBQs to be completed by the health care provider that is the most familiar with the veteran’s condition. This is in line with standard VA practice to give greater weight to medical evidence from a health care provider with either a significant history with the patient (and thus knowledge of the patient’s condition over time) and/or with the most expertise in the field of medicine (records from an orthopedic surgeon will hold more weight than records from a general practitioner for a spine condition, etc.).
The VA has added new questions to the beginning of these DBQs to measure the relationship the veteran has with the health care professional completing the DBQ in order to ensure the quality of the evidence being submitted.
We always encourage veterans to have the physician that is most familiar with their condition complete these DBQs whenever possible in order to submit the strongest evidence in support of their claim.
These DBQs can provide powerful supporting evidence for a claim, however, they are still not essential. The VA can still correctly rate a veteran’s conditions based on any medical record evidence as long as the proper tests/measurements/information/etc. that is required to rate the condition has been recorded.
On our site, you can find full information on exactly what is needed to rate your conditions as part of our All-Access Membership.