VA Removes Disability Benefits Questionnaires from Public View

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Citing abuse of the system, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has removed Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) from its public websites.

DBQs are standardized forms used by clinicians performing disability examinations (also known as Compensation & Pension exams, or C&P exams). A disability examination must usually be completed by a physician before the VA will pay a veteran disability benefits.

For example, the DBQ for shoulder and arm conditions requires the examiner to note how much a veteran's range of motion is limited, how much strength in the joint is decreased, how much pain the veteran experiences, and how much these measurements change after repeated motion. Often, the forms have checkboxes that can be completed by the physician with little or no explanatory writing or having to know detailed standardized medical codes.

This data is then transmitted to the VA, which compares it against the Schedule of Rating Disabilities written into federal law and makes a disability percentage determination.

This system was designed to make it easier for VA examiners, private examiners contracted by the VA and other private physicians to quickly conduct a disability medical examination and provide meaningful information to the VA rating specialist, who could then rapidly make a disability rating decision without having to request more information from the examiner.

But, the VA said in an April 2 news release, "In the past few years, we have seen a growing industry of individuals and companies marketing the service of completing DBQs for Veterans."

Not surprisingly, a quick internet search for "VA DBQ" returns hundreds of thousands of law firms and other private industries claiming they can "guarantee" that veterans will receive the largest disability rating and highest amount of money possible from the VA; some of these operators may be unscrupulous. Many even offer to fill the forms out for you (for a price) before you visit your physician to get it signed and transmitted to the VA.

The VA says that DBQs will still be available to medical practitioners, who can use them in performing their official duties, but that they will no longer be available to the general public.

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