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DBQs No Longer Available Online


JustGettingStarted
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Question

VA has removed all the DBQs from their website with this statement at the end of the page:  "VBA has discontinued the use of public facing Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).  Originally, public facing DBQs were designed to assist Veterans living overseas to obtain medical evidence in support of their benefit claims where limited options were available.  Today, VA works with contracted providers in more than 30 foreign countries to conduct disability medical examinations."

I monitor a Veteran's facebook page and often refer veterans to the DBQs for their conditions.  In some cases, it is to download and have their doctor fill out a copy; in others, it is so a veteran can fill out the DBQ and take it to their C&P exam to make sure all the facts essential to their claim are covered by the examiner.  I had my dermatologist do a DBQ for me after fighting the VA for almost 2 years for an increase because the VA examiners couldn't complete a simple form.  It was the key to getting an increase from 0 to 60% for a skin condition and winning a CUE to get 8 years in back pay.

This is an affront to the veteran community making it much more difficult for veterans to win their claims.  

I am wondering if the DBQs can be requested under FOIA and posted on some other pages such as here on Hadit.  I know it is more work for the admins, but if someone had the time to take this on and provide this vital information to veterans, it would be extremely helpful.

Also, if you could start a new thread just for DBQs, I have blank copies in PDF format that I would be glad to upload.  I figure even if they become a bit outdated, they would be better than have zero access to this information.

https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_disabilityexams.asp

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I recommend doing the following:

  1. Call the White House VA Hotline and put in an executive complaint (different than a normal complaint or recommendation).
  2. Complain to our Congressional representatives (both House and Senate)
  3. Complain to our veteran service organizations
  4. Complain to our veteran lawyers (if you are using one)
  5. Contact news media. They are always hungry to learn about VA-related scandals or how the VA is shafting veterans.

@JustGettingStarted This smells like the contracted companies/doctors saw this as an opportunity to increase their revenue stream and asked the VA to do this. It also smells like an attempt to make it more difficult for private doctors who specialize in performing C&P exams, such as Dr. Bash, Dr. Anaise, etc...

Keep in mind that this still does not prevent you from getting a nexus from your doctor. However, the VA would probably want a C&P in order to rate you.

Here's a link to every official VA DBQ and every time they changed since being officially introduced in 2013. Just follow the timeline at the top and/or click on specific dates where highlighted changes occurred. 

https://web.archive.org/web/2019*/https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_disabilityexams.asp

An FOIA request should be sufficient for requesting the "current" version of each DBQ, but don't expect it to arrive any time soon. My last FOIA request for a form was submitted in October 2019 and I received the form in February 2020. Ironically, I asked for an examination worksheet that was used in 1997, but they claimed they could not find it. Instead, they sent me a copy of the current DBQ. It was completely different and didn't line up to the C&P answers at all. I was able to find the original via archive.org.

 

Edited by Vync
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https://web.archive.org/web/20190807143131/https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_ListByDBQFormName.asp

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ak9H2qtr7QYJ:https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_listbydbqformname.asp+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

 

Can these be downloaded and posted to the site?

 

Edit: I saved all of them in case it is needed on here. What is strange is that some of these forms "expired" back in September 2019.

Edited by bellrungboxer
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Well, I guess that this is another way for VA to make claims harder for Vets. Been stated, bring a DBQ to your private doc to see if he can fill it out, but VA wants to take it off the website.  Go figure.

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So it still looks like the forms are still online, but VA has just made it harder to find them.  Thanks for the great links provided here.  I saved some to a file and added to the Files in the FB page I help moderate.

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I agree with Vync.  We need to raise hell about this and prevent the VA from making things harder for vets.  They claim to be doing this formerly due to veterans outside of the states, I believe them about as much as I believed the VA when they first denied my claim.

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@vetquest I called the WH VA Hotline earlier and put in an executive complaint. These complaints go straight to the VA Secretary's office for initial review and often get delegated down to appropriate personnel for action. If the VA Secretary's office starts to see a pattern, they might order a reversal on this poor policy.

The VA claims they were originally intended for use by overseas veterans. but there are numerous important reasons why public access to DBQs are were extremely beneficial:

1. Accountability and trust. Some VA C&P docs are sloppy, have a proven history of making mistakes, and often overlook crucial details present in private medical records.
2. Veterans can take them to their private who has treated them long term and knows them.
3. Veterans can examine the forms to get a better idea of what is really supposed to happen during a C&P exam.
4. Reduce the need for the VA to schedule unnecessary C&P exams
5. If a C&P ends up being necessary, the C&P doc can refer to the DBQ performed by the non-VA doctor.
6. In some situations, such as increase claims, the effective date may be based on when a veteran becomes eligible for an increased rating. Adding to internal VA C&P workload means it will take longer to obtain appointments. This could negatively impact an effective date.

 

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Just another example of the VA making it harder for a veteran to get what he or she has earned. I think what JustGettingStarted suggested is a great idea as a parallel action.If we  have a blog or something and make blank copies of dbq's available, it will do a lot more good than harm. The VA isn't going to change materially a whole bunch of dbq's because it will be too hard for their medical people, Besides, if they needed changing they would already have done them. The symptoms for disabilities will not change, nor will how they evaluate them. If Hadit has an ongoing Library of dbq's available for veterans to reference, it would be a great draw to the sight. IMHO.

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For most of you filing claims  it would be wise to print a couple of each form that you need to use  and make copies of these forms  even the 21 -526 ez forms (to file a claim) or the IU forms 22 8940 TDIU

21-0958/OR 214138   (NOD) NOTICE OF DISAGREEMENT

OR SPECIALTY CLAIMS LIKE=

https://www.va.gov/vaforms/search_action.asp

You may want copy some of these forms and make extra copies  to have for extra.  keep you a VA FILE FOLDER AND PUT THESE EXTRA COPIES IN IT so you may have them when needed...its good to make you a VA file folder for yourself and keep it organized  and  remember to keep everything the VA Sends you and if you send the VA anything make copies of everything  it could come in Handy for you some day. 

 Even post office return receipts are a must if using snail mail  make those copies.  you be glad you did.  keep most all va related stuff in a home file folder.

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I have been trying to find the effective date of this discontinued decision.  I am thinking around March 25, 2020.  This should mean any and all DBQs from this date will no longer be accepted but any and all DBQs signed and received prior to this date should be accepted.  Unless something change and VA goes back to accept these DBQs there would be no need or reason to make copies and have them for future use. 

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3 hours ago, pete992 said:

DBQs from this date will no longer be accepted

Are we sure about that though? I mean, it can't hurt to have a doctor fill things out in the same method that they review the private contracted doctors exams, right? Maybe you wouldn't be able to submit it as an official DBQ, but as non-government patient treatment records. Just because it isn't an official form, doesn't mean it is disqualifying information, but then again nothing really surprises me anymore.

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51 minutes ago, bellrungboxer said:

 

Are we sure about that though? I mean, it can't hurt to have a doctor fill things out in the same method that they review the private contracted doctors exams, right? Maybe you wouldn't be able to submit it as an official DBQ, but as non-government patient treatment records. Just because it isn't an official form, doesn't mean it is disqualifying information, but then again nothing really surprises me anymore.

"VBA has discontinued the use of public facing Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).  Originally, public facing DBQs were designed to assist Veterans living overseas to obtain medical evidence in support of their benefit claims where limited options were available.  Today, VA works with contracted providers in more than 30 foreign countries to conduct disability medical examinations."

https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_disabilityexams.asp

Since the fact that VA may not consider DBQs as evidence, I don't see a need for a veteran to have their physician fill these form out. 

How To Submit Private Medical Evidence for Your VA Claim
Talk to your healthcare provider (family physician, urgent care visits, any Tricare covered treatment after discharge) and explain that you are filing a claim for VA benefits; discuss the conditions for which you are filing a claim. 

    1. If required, complete your healthcare provider’s release of information form, obtain your records, and submit with your claim, or
    2. Complete VA Form 21-4142, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and VA For 21-4142a, General Release for Medical Provider Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); submit completed forms with your claim and VA will attempt to obtain your records through our Private Medical Records contract.  VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a are used in conjunction with each other and both forms must be completed in order to obtain treatment records

I am thinking VA is moving to the VA form 21-4142 and VA form 21-4142a is because a veteran would have to submit these forms and have the VA to request his/her private medical records and VA knows that some physicians and their medical office do not response in a timely manner. This will ensure a denial or at least a delay in decision waiting for these records.  It would be best for a veteran to fill out the VA  form 21-4142 and 21-4142a and attach all pertinent medical evidence and request VA to process their claim without requesting more private treatment records.  Still this could cause some delays because VA will most likely request current treatment records.

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1 hour ago, pete992 said:

Since the fact that VA may not consider DBQs as evidence, I don't see a need for a veteran to have their physician fill these form out. 

So I found the VA OIG Inspector's report on DBQs from 18-Feb-2020....the public facing DBQ's are indeed useless:

Quote

The OIG found that claims processors awarded benefits based on questionnaires completed by private providers located in a different state or country than where the veterans reside, without evidence that the examinations were completed in person. VBA’s internal controls over public-use questionnaires remain inadequate to prevent the use of telehealth disability benefits questionnaires. As a result, the team identified inaccurate benefit entitlement determinations for 41 of the 81 claims reviewed totaling approximately $613,000 in improper payments for claims completed from April 2017 through September 2018. Public-use disability questionnaires, including telehealth questionnaires, contain an inherent risk of fraud. While VBA has taken some steps to mitigate the risk, this review identified further internal control and procedural deficiencies regarding public-use disability benefits questionnaires. Interviews with VBA staff and managers revealed a reluctance to continue accepting public-use disability benefits questionnaires. This was due to the fraud risk in using the questionnaires, as well as to the difficulty in updating the forms to ensure they remain accurate and usable for benefit entitlement purposes. These factors raise questions about whether public use disability benefits questionnaires remain a viable tool for streamlining the veterans’ claims process.

Source: https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-19-07119-80.pdf

@pete992 thanks for challenging me to dig deeper...I advise everyone here to read at least the report summary

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The reason I asked this question is due to the fact that it should not pertain to all DBQs.  Some veterans actually have their private treating physician fill out and sign their DBQs. As long as the DBQs is properly filled out and signed by a treating physician then this should not be a problem but VA could challenge any DBQs 

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9 hours ago, bellrungboxer said:

So I found the VA OIG Inspector's report on DBQs from 18-Feb-2020....the public facing DBQ's are indeed useless:

Source: https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-19-07119-80.pdf

@pete992 thanks for challenging me to dig deeper...I advise everyone here to read at least the report summary

I had an old VA coworker several months back telling me that they were investigating and cracking down on these attorneys that were basically sending DBQs to doctors all over the country who were also getting kickbacks for rubber stamping DBQs.  

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49 minutes ago, pete992 said:

The reason I asked this question is due to the fact that it should not pertain to all DBQs.  Some veterans actually have their private treating physician fill out and sign their DBQs. As long as the DBQs is properly filled out and signed by a treating physician then this should not be a problem but VA could challenge any DBQs 

I asked a buddy of mine who still works at the VA about this and he said certain DBQs weren't being accepted but he didn't elaborate.  

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Also, I wonder if some benefits will be severed if claims were granted based on the fraudulent DBQs.  Will the VA spend the resources it would take to review these claims?

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