The VA recently removed all Disability Benefits Questionnaires from its website, making them inaccessible to the public. Many Veterans have contacted our team wondering if their claim would be impacted by this and what it really means. To understand the change, you must first have a basic understanding of Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).
Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are standardized questions the VA uses during Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations to diagnose and rate the severity of a Veteran’s disability. The DBQs ask the medical professionals specific questions about information needed to rate the claim. The DBQs set a standardized process which makes it easier for the VA to evaluate the information they receive and rate everyone on the same set of criteria. Only a trained medical professional can make a medical opinion. Additionally, the more specific the condition, the more specialized an examiner must be. For example, a foot doctor should not be performing a DBQ on neurology conditions.
There are approximately 80 different types of Disability Benefits Questionnaires available based on different disabilities, and they cover the information the VA needs about a specific disability.
The VA gave three specific reasons as to why they removed the DBQs. According to a press release from the Department of Veterans Affairs, they removed the Questionnaires because:
The most important question is whether or not this will affect any Veterans’ claim.
One of the biggest concerns Veterans have expressed is whether or not they will be able to utilize private medical opinions in the future. According to the VA, all evidence that is submitted by a Veteran or their accredited representative will be taken into account. This means their policy on receiving DBQs has not changed and Veterans are still able to get private medical opinions in support of their claim. Now that the VA has removed access to the forms, however, the VA has basically made it more difficult for an individual to obtain the proper DBQ without assistance from the VA.
When the VA submits the DBQ to their contracted third-party examiners, the Veteran does not get to see a copy of the DBQ before it is submitted to the VA. This has been the point of contention. The VA withdrew the use of publishing the DBQs because Veterans were submitting exaggerated or even false examinations. However, in some Veterans claims the third-party examiners were not performing adequate evaluations. So where is the balance?
If the Veteran has an independent medical opinion, they may submit it to the VA. The examination needs to be filled out in its entirety, with an opinion of “as likely as not” or “less likely than not” for service connection. The exam must not be exaggerated or falsified in any way.
At this time, we do not know when or if the VA will stop accepting private DBQs. That determination is still under review at the VA. Until then, Veterans need to ensure their private DBQs accurately reflect their condition.
If you have struggled to get your claim service connected or want to increase your disability rating, the team at Berry Law can help. We have assisted thousands of fellow Veterans in their fight for disability benefits, and we have experience appealing claims at every regional office in the US. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation and take the next step in getting the disability compensation you are entitled to.
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