Disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) are used by VA to get information from medical providers about a veteran’s disabilities. If you are scheduled for a compensation and pension examination, the doctor conducting the examination will probably complete a DBQ.
The VA has over 60 DBQs that cover a wide range of types of health conditions. You do not have to use a DBQ to provide medical information about your claim to the VA, but using a DBQ can be helpful in some situations.
How are Disability Benefits Questionnaires helpful?
One of the most helpful things about a disability benefits questionnaire is that it focuses on the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities. VA assigns a disability rating for service connected disabilities. That rating is determined using the VA’s Scheduled for Rating Disabilities. That schedule attempts to evaluate every different medical condition that could cause a service-connected disability. Each medical condition has specific symptoms or limitations that are used to determine the disability rating for that medical condition.
The DBQ for a particular medical condition usually specifically tracks the criteria used to rate that medical condition in the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities. For example, Diabetes Mellitus is rated using Diagnostic Code 7913.
|7913 Diabetes mellitus|
|Requiring more than one daily injection of insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities (avoidance of strenuous occupational and recreational activities) with episodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions requiring at least three hospitalizations per year or weekly visits to a diabetic care provider, plus either progressive loss of weight and strength or complications that would be compensable if separately evaluated||100|
|Requiring insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities with episodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions requiring one or two hospitalizations per year or twice a month visits to a diabetic care provider, plus complications that would not be compensable if separately evaluated||60|
|Requiring insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities||40|
|Requiring insulin and restricted diet, or; oral hypoglycemic agent and restricted diet||20|
|Manageable by restricted diet only||10|
|Note (1): Evaluate compensable complications of diabetes separately unless they are part of the criteria used to support a 100 percent evaluation. Noncompensable complications are considered part of the diabetic process under diagnostic code 7913.|
|Note (2): When diabetes mellitus has been conclusively diagnosed, do not request a glucose tolerance test solely for rating purposes.|
The diagnostic code focuses on how the diabetes is managed (restricted diet, insulin, oral hypoglycemic agent), whether it restricts activities, and whether it causes epdisodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions. Section II (Medical History) of the DBQ for diabetes mellitus focuses on the same areas. So, a doctor filling out the questionnaire will cover the items that need to be covered to establish how disabling your diabetes is.
The DBQ for diabetes mellitus also covers certain secondary conditions that may develop as a result of diabetes. These include hypertension, renal disease, cardiac conditions, and stroke.
What is not covered by a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?
DBQs are generally good for covering how VA evaluates a certain condition under its diagnostic codes. However, DBQs generally do not cover one of the most important requirements of establishing a service-connected disability. That element is service-connection.
Take a look back at the DBQ for diabetes mellitus. There are eight different sections on the form. Not a single one of the sections asks whether the condition is at least as likely as not due to the veteran’s military service. Most other DBQs are similar to this. So, if the doctor just completes the DBQ, you may not have the evidence you need that your disability is service connected.
There are a couple of solutions to this problem. The first is to get your doctor to address service-connection in the “Remarks” section of the DBQ. Almost all DBQs have a section toward the end entitled “Remarks” where the doctor can write comments about the medical condition. If the doctor indicates that the medical condition is at least as likely as not caused by the veteran’s ervice in the “Remarks” section, this should provide evidence for establishing service connection.
Another way to solve the problem is to just provide other medical evidence in addition to the DBQ. There is nothing that says that you have to use a DBQ. There is also nothing that says that you cannot provide other medical evidence if you do use a DBQ. So, if your DBQ does not address service-connection, try to provide other evidence of service-connection.
Other questions about veterans benefits
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