Disability Benefits QuestionnairesUpdated: November 2, 2022
What is a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)? This was a very important part of the process of being evaluated for a Department of Veterans Affairs disability claim until 2020.
DBQs were designed to help speed up the processing of claims for disability compensation and military pensions. An applicant wishing to make a claim with the VA was asked to list their medical issues and related information to begin the claims process. Supporting documentation was often required to strengthen the claim.
DBQs allowed veterans to use private medical providers outside of the VA so that they could receive care more quickly. They allowed private health care providers to obtain important information that the VA needs to evaluate and set veterans’ benefits claims efficiently and accurately. Additionally, these forms helped alleviate some of the backlog within the VA system, helping to expedite the disability claims process.
There were once 70 or more DBQs for a variety of conditions. The VA provided these forms electronically on the official site starting in 2010, but discontinued providing them in April 2020.
Some of those conditions included (but were not limited to) the following:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Ankle conditions
- Artery and vein conditions
- Arthritis and dysbaric osteonecrosis
- Back conditions
- Diabetes mellitus
- Eating disorders
- Eye conditions
- Foot conditions
- Hand and finger conditions
- Heart conditions
- Hip and thigh conditions
- Kidney conditions
- Knee and lower leg conditions
- Mental disorders
- Muscle injuries
- Neck conditions
- Peripheral nerves conditions
- Persian Gulf and Afghanistan infectious diseases
- Prostate cancer
- Shoulder and arm conditions
- Skin diseases
- Wrist conditions
Using a DBQ was intended as a supplement to the VA’s own examination process for these claims rather than as a replacement for the VA exam. The system was useful for those retiring or separating from military service overseas — especially those who had medical issues diagnosed in overseas locations by civilian medical providers. But not everyone who submitted the forms served in foreign countries.
Those who submitted DBQ forms did so as a form of supporting documentation for the claim. The value of such input is high for the VA’s decision-making process.
What Happened To The Disability Benefits Questionnaire?
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site states that the VA has discontinued the use of DBQs, saying these forms originally “were designed to assist veterans living overseas to obtain medical evidence in support of their benefit claims where limited options were available.”
Since the VA discontinued DBQs in 2020, the agency works “with contracted providers in more than 30 foreign countries to conduct disability medical examinations.”
What Should You Use Instead of a DBQ?
There are two avenues to consider when evaluating what needs to be done to support your VA medical disability claim.
You could fill out and complete a DBQ regardless of the fact that the VA no longer offers the forms. Those who need to submit supporting medical documentation may still technically submit a DBQ, since some veteran-focused legal websites provide archives of these forms.
One source reports that the VA policy of accepting these forms has not changed but there are no guarantees that submitting the form will help your case. What does this mean to the veteran seeking VA compensation for service-connected medical issues or service-connected disabilities?
That depends on the status of your claim. The VA stopped providing the forms in April 2020. Conceivably, there are veterans who were in the process of submitting such forms or having them completed by a civilian doctor in the meantime.
Those who have already initiated the process should probably complete it but also contact the VA to inquire about what to do in addition to submitting the DBQ.
The original submission process allowed veterans or their physicians to submit forms either by fax or mail to the VA Regional Office handling the veteran’s claim. DBQs could also be hand-delivered to a VA facility.
Note that veterans are responsible for any fees incurred from their private health care provider for completing the form.
No DBQ Required To Get Private Healthcare Evidence
The second way to proceed is best for those who have not started a DBQ with a private healthcare provider. In these cases it’s best to follow the advice on the VA official website — don’t give up on having your private provider submit supporting medical evidence on your behalf. “The Department of Veterans Affairs encourages all veterans to submit their private medical records for consideration during the processing of their benefits claim.”
The VA official site says for those who wish to do so, the process is now as follows:
- Contact the care provider(s) who treated you or who have information about your case and explain you need to file a claim for disability benefits with the VA
- Explain the conditions you need evidence for
- Request and complete any release required from your healthcare provider to submit the federally-protected privacy act data in your medical records to the VA
- Get copies of your medical records from the care provider to submit to the VA
- Complete two VA forms:
- VA Form 21-4142, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs
- VA Form 21-4142a, General Release for Medical Provider Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Submit all completed forms with your claim
When you submit all the completed forms, be aware that the VA official site said the VA will “attempt to obtain your records through our Private Medical Records contract.” VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a must be completed and submitted together for the process to begin.
Some veterans may have federal records that are needed to support a claim. The VA offers to help — tell your VA rep about any such federal records you need and they will gather them together for you.
It’s important to note that any records the VA itself has are not required to be submitted since the agency already has those on file. However, those who received healthcare at a military hospital or clinic after being discharged should notify the VA with information on the location, dates and duration of such treatment. This information should definitely be included in your completed VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a.
You can use a calculator from this website to find your Combined Disability Rating and compensation.