What is a DBQ, and should I use one for my disability claim?

A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) is a form designed to be used as part of their evaluation process for  VA disability Hand Holding a Pen and Filling Out Paperworkbenefits. This downloadable form helps speed up the process of a veteran’s disability claim.

When veterans use a DBQ, they have more control over their claims process. Using this form allows veterans to visit a primary care provider for their medical evaluation as an alternative to or to rebut a compensation and pension (C&P) exam at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic or facility. Sometimes the veteran submitting this information early in the claims process avoids the necessity of a C& P examination. Because the form uses standardized language and check boxes to help provide critical information, an accurate disability rating can be made quickly and more easily.

Questions About the DBQ

The DBQ is a relatively new form available to veterans, so there are questions about how to use it. Here are some of the most common questions about the DBQ and some general answers to those questions:

Will having my doctor fill out a DBQ really expedite my claim? While there is no statistical evidence that proves the DBQ accelerates the claims process, many veterans have reported their satisfaction with the time to process their claims.

Will the VA pay for me to see my own doctor? No. If a veteran chooses to see his own doctor for a medical evaluation instead of a reporting for a C&P exam, he is responsible for all related charges, co-pays, and travel costs. Because veterans have the option to take the DBQ to their own physician, they are also responsible for any extra charge the doctor might require for filling out this form. Asking your doctor to complete the form is the same as asking him to add support to your claim by writing a letter or provide evidence of a medical condition.

Is there a DBQ for every condition? No. However, there are over 70 DBQs that cover many medical conditions. Some DBQs are available for a specific, single condition such as prostate cancer or high blood pressure, and others can be used for related conditions. The VA provides a complete list of available forms and covered conditions. The current list defines nearly every condition that a veteran can receive compensation for.

What DBQs aren’t available to private health care providers? The following medical exams have no DBQs:

  • The initial exam for PTSD
  • Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
  • Residual effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Residual effects of a Cold Injury such as frostbite and hypothermia
  • Protocol examinations for prisoners of war
  • Examinations for those who served in the Gulf War
  • General exams for Compensation
  • General Exams for Pension

Who is allowed to fill out a DBQ? Any health care provider who has an active medical license is required to sign the DBQ and affirm the condition of the veteran. The DBQ can be completed by:

  • The veteran’s personal health care provider
  • A Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinician

It’s important to note that some medical professionals and some professionals in specialty fields may decline to fill out a DBQ.

What if the VA feels my DBQ isn’t filled out completely? If the VA believes your DBQ is incomplete, that means it doesn’t include the proper information needed give your disability a rating. While the VA will try to collect the necessary information during the claims process, it may not be able to obtain all that’s needed. If this happens, the VA may schedule you for a C&P exam.

Can evidence from past test results be used on the DBQ? The VA has no set rules about the age of test results. If past test results indicate your present medical condition and the level of your disability, your doctor should state this and include those test results in your DBQ.

At Cuddigan Law, we understand how critical it is for veterans to get disability benefits. If you have questions about your disability claim or about using a personal doctor and a DBQ for your medical exam, we can help. Call us today at 402-933-5405 to ask us a question about your disability case, or download our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska