Overcoming the VA’s New DBQ Policy


Sleep Apnea DBQ

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?

Get Creative

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:

  1. Identification of the provider’s credentials (e.g. “I am board-certified ______”)
  2. How long the provider has treated you, and the scope of treatment
  3. The symptoms associated with your medical condition, including:
    1. Frequency
    2. Severity
    3. Impact on daily activities (including work)
    4. Effect of medications
    5. 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 kcraveiro@roblevine.com

–Kelsey

This entry was posted in C&P exams, Diagnostic Codes (DCs), Guest authors, Lawyering Up, NOVA Attorneys, Uncategorized, VA Attorneys, Veterans Law and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Overcoming the VA’s New DBQ Policy

  1. As for The “C and P” exam, my attorney advised me earlier this past week that he had been advised there was a moratorium on All C and Ps due of course to Covid19. We especially found this amusing since his sighting on his VACOL(?) software suggested our Appeal at the BVA from the CAVC of course was due for Decision or at least last review of same record/s. Since the new C and P was a cornerstone of our moving onto hopefully a Grant, this presents a unique problem. Since we are on a Docket, things are about to get interesting in this fifteen year old claim/appeal.

  2. sherry7006 says:

    My husband passed away October 2019 after six years receiving medical care under the VA. As it turns out, three months prior to his passing he was hospitalized at an out of VA care hospital (Thanks to Obama approving the “Choice Program”) for five days. A month later we get his medical report from that hospital and it stated very clearly “Ischemic Heart Disease”. I called the hospital and asked why nothing was said while there. They said they thought we knew because that came from the VA. So, how did VA know this but not tell us? Well, my husband also had COPD and that’s what they wanted his cause of passing to be noted as. My husband drug himself to the VA and filed a claim. They immediately granted him 10 percent. I was informed via our local VA office that it was up to me to be sure that heart disease be listed on his death certificate at the very least as a secondary condition. It took some real melt downs on my part as the funeral home was passed to six different docs that refused to sign off. Two weeks later, I happen to reach out to the hospice doc and he only agreed to sign off due to this two week delay and he listed that heart disease as secondary cause. Long story I know but I just wanted to point out another way VA Docs let down our Vets. You dont get this heart disease overnight. I filed DIC and it was granted as I think they got caught with their pants down.

  3. Calvin Winchell says:

    Seems that due process and law is slowly going by the wayside! The government is doing whatever they want now? Making the rules and changing the rules to suit themselves? Everything is getting watered down?

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