Last week, the VA announced that it would discontinue the use of public-facing Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) – meaning that it would no longer make DBQs available to the general public on its website. DBQs are standardized forms completed by medical providers that outline the severity of a condition.With a completed DBQ, a veteran could provide essential medical evidence towards their increased rating claim and (more importantly) contradict an unfavorable Comp & Pen report.
Prior to last week, the VA’s website hosted links to DBQs for various medical conditions. Without access to these DBQs, what options are still available in a veteran’s fight for a higher rating?
The VA says that its Comp & Pen examination system is now widely available, which minimizes the need for DBQs. But that process is often flawed and results in evidence damaging to a claim. For veterans with an unfavorable Comp & Pen report, some consider paying for an expensive Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) to support their case.
As another (more affordable) option, veterans can recreate the success of a DBQ with a letter, written by their own medical provider, describing the extent of their condition.
In any provider letter, the following information should be included:
- Identification of the provider’s credentials (e.g. “I am board-certified ______”)
- How long the provider has treated you, and the scope of treatment
- The symptoms associated with your medical condition, including:
- Impact on daily activities (including work)
- Effect of medications
- Prognosis, if applicable
For authenticity, each letter should be on the provider’s office letterhead and include a signature and contact information.
Maximizing the Effectiveness of a Medical Provider Letter
To increase the value of any provider letter, you must tailor the above framework to the VA’s Diagnostic Code – the manual that VA personnel use to rate conditions. Many conditions have an specific Diagnostic Code containing criteria for ratings. For example, Migraines is listed as Diagnostic Code 8100, which looks like this:
For a veteran with a 0% rating seeking a higher rating for migraines, it is important that any provider’s letter mentions the frequency of the migraines and whether they are prostrating.
Working with your medical provider to tailor these letters to the VA Diagnostic Code is most effective because it mirrors what DBQs are designed to do.
Your Fight For a Higher VA Disability Rating
With some proactive research and a helpful provider, disability letters can help win your VA claim for an increased rating. Even if the VA orders a Comp & Pen exam anyways, a well-written letter can help sway a Comp & Pen examiner whose opinion can make or break your case.
Don’t wait for the VA to obtain an unfavorable Comp & Pen report – take charge of your VA case with a provider letter today.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org