Discontinuance of Publicly Available Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)

PEBMember2017

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Per the VA:

Greetings,

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is providing information about the sunset of making Disability Benefits Questionnaires available to the public on our website. VBA will continue to accept any evidence that Veterans or their accredited representatives wish to submit in support of disability compensation or pension claims. This message is intended to advise you about the change and provide guidance and resources.

What are Disability Benefits Questionnaires?
  • Disability Benefits Questionnaires, or DBQs, are standardized forms used by clinicians when performing disability examinations (also known as Compensation & Pension exams or C&P exams). The purpose of a DBQ is to ensure the clinician performing the exam captures and records all the information needed by VBA claims processors to make a decision on a Veteran’s claim. The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) found in 38 Code of Federal Regulations Part 4 has very specific requirements for rating conditions claimed by Veterans, and if the required information is not properly recorded during the examination, it could delay the claim while VA goes back to gather the necessary information. DBQs help prevent this delay by standardizing and guiding what information is recorded for each condition.
  • DBQs are used by both Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinicians and VA contract vendor clinicians. There are more than 80 different types of DBQs that cover the 15 body systems contained in the VASRD. They were originally designed and released in 2010 to not only standardize the capture of information during VA exams but also as an alternative for Veterans to take to their treating physicians, particularly if they were living overseas or in rural areas where getting a VA exam was more difficult.
Why has VA removed DBQs from its public-facing website?

VA continues to use DBQs during C&P exams conducted by VHA and VA’s contracted vendor clinicians. There are several reasons why VA decided to discontinue making DBQs available for public use.
  • We have modernized. VBA is currently more than half-way through the process of updating all body systems in the VASRD. This is the first complete update of the VASRD since the 1945 Schedule. As each body system is updated, so are the corresponding DBQs. For DBQs used internally by VA, the updated forms are available immediately. However, for DBQs available publicly, VA must engage in the formal process required any time a public-facing form is modified, which can take more than a year. This has resulted in outdated forms being available publicly, which can result in a Veteran submitting a DBQ from a private doctor and then being scheduled for a VA C&P exam to gather more information.
  • We have increased our capacity to conduct C&P exams. To supplement VHA’s internal capacity to conduct C&P exams, VBA has contracted with three primary vendors to provide exams across the country. This has expanded the agency’s ability to conduct exams in more places than just traditional VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics. The contracted clinicians can provide wider coverage, especially in rural areas and in conducting exams in federal and state prison facilities. Also, one of VBA’s contract vendors conducts C&P exams in 33 countries overseas, where VHA does not have a presence.
  • We are safeguarding against fraud. In the past few years, we have seen a growing industry of individuals and companies marketing the service of completing DBQs for Veterans. Some have provided honest, valuable service to Veterans. However, VA has made hundreds of referrals to the VA Office of Inspector General of individuals and companies who are engaged in questionable, even fraudulent, practices that include charging high prices for completing DBQs or submitting DBQs with findings that are vastly different than the other evidence in the Veteran’s claims folder. Also, it is a requirement that DBQs submitted by a private provider must be based on an exam conducted in person. VA’s OIG recently issued an audit report about providers who were completing DBQs for Veterans remotely and recommended that VA revisit its practice of making public-facing DBQs available.
Will VA continue to accept evidence from my private physician?
  • Yes. VA accepts any evidence that a Veteran or his/her accredited representative chooses to submit in support of a claim. Once all evidence is received, VBA claims processors review and weigh the evidence overall as part of the decision-making process.
  • Veterans may submit private treatment records or request that VBA obtain those records on their behalf in support of their claims.
  • Key methods that private medical records can be submitted are as follows:
Resources
  • We encourage all Veterans to work with an accredited organization for assistance in completing claims for VA benefits. The accredited representative can help in guiding the Veteran in submitting applicable medical records for consideration in his or her claim.
  • A list of accredited organizations can be found on the Office of General Counsel site at this link: Search the VA Office of the General Counsel’s list.
Questions on Claims?

You can start and continue to file claims with no delay.

How to start or continue a claim:
  1. File a claim online at https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/ or https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/
  2. Fax a claim to VA’s Centralized Mail hub at (844) 531-7818
  3. Submit completed applications by paper mail
For individuals who need more assistance, VBA offers robust resources through the National Call Center (NCC) at 1-800-827-1000.

Intent to file a claim:
Note: Intent to file a claim will preserve a potential effective date and allow the Veteran up to one year to submit a completed claim form. Veterans can also work with a local VSO to submit claims electronically or by mail.

A grateful nation thanks you for your service.

Sincerely,

Veterans Benefits Administration
 

tony292

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
I’m not a big fan of this. Being able to see what’s on the DBQ empowers sick and wounded Veterans by allowing us to see verbatim exactly what the CP examiner will fill out. Not knowing what’s on the DBQ will only hurt the Veteran, and help the VA save money because if we don’t know how they arrive at the ratings they arrive at, how can we fight it when they underrate us?
 

D_street1030

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
This will do many things and few of them will be positive. When I was going through the process the DBQ forms curbed my anxiety for many appointments. I have this strange feeling that the VA is doing this to save money on ratings and what not. Politics and money. Someone should get them all and post them,
 

chaplaincharlie

Super Moderator
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Lifetime Supporter
Registered Member
This is a terrible decision by the VA! A few people acting dishonorably is not a good reason to punished all veterans. The VA is pushing decsions ready claims. That is a great idea, but without a DBQ to follow a provider could unknowingly leave out a key piece of medical data that would result in a Vet being underrated or not rated at all.
 

tony292

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran

oddpedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Lifetime Supporter
Registered Member
I can see the VA's angle here the DBQ was introduced when they could not keep up with exams and claims backlogged ballooned and the outcry lead to them just asking your doctor to conduct the exams and fill out the forms for your claims. Now they have a very broad and efficient network of contract doctors to conduct the exams so I concede to points one and two for eliminating them.

The third point is what I have an issue with I can almost guarantee this has more to do more with service connection claims then for increases. The fraudulent DBQ cases I saw that were prosecuted almost never included a doctor what happened is the veteran impersonated a doctor and filled out the paperwork themselves and then submitted it to the VA. I am speculating this has a lot to do with the blue water navy bill in which the VA is still fuming about. They like to see connections to service be almost absolute (90%) and not 50% even though that is the law 38 USC 5107(b). 38 CFR §3.102. When doctors start connecting secondary and aggravated claims that are weak or against VA determinations and medical knowledge they start to cry fraud which I find hilarious. The law is written to approve claims that are even questionable 50% is clearly questionable but far from fraudulent I'm sorry the VA doesn't like it but this is their way in trying to stop it and I see it failing in the long term when advocates adjust strategy for submitting evidence.

Don't be surprised when Veteran disability attorneys and advocates come up with different forms to submit to the VA where it will be difficult for them to dismiss. Something similar to the SSA's Adult Function Reports for increases and narratives for SC albeit I believe these will be a lot more expensive on the veteran to get going forward.
 

tony292

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
I just uploaded around 27 DBQs into the resources. Don’t have a list of all of them so I have no idea how many I didn’t find.i uploaded all of the ones I found in the links I posted above.
 

tony292

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
From my reading there are more than 70 DBQs. It is going to take much More effort than I can do to find the rest of them and upload them. I’ve uploaded 27 now but the rest are increasingly harder to find.
 
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