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The DBQ: All About Disability Benefits Questionnaires

What is a DBQ or disability benefits questionnaire? Learn about DBQs and how they can help you get approved for VA disability benefits.

Suppose you’re a veteran preparing to file a claim for VA disability compensation. You may have already encountered or heard of a DBQ in that case. 

But what is a DBQ, exactly? This DBQ differs from the document-based questions you may have dealt with when preparing to answer essays before taking your AP exam. 

Regarding VA disability benefits, DBQ stands for Disability Benefits Questionnaire. Instead of a type of essay question, the Disability Benefit Questionnaire, in this context, is one of the many VA forms submitted when applying for benefits.

What Is a Disability Benefits Questionnaire? 

As the name aptly describes, the VA’s DBQ, or Disability Benefits Questionnaire, is a questionnaire used to gather information regarding the medical disability or disabilities of a veteran. In addition, it is generally used to strengthen VA disability benefits claims.

The DBQ is a standardized form to help expedite the processing of veterans’ disability claims. For veterans’ ease and convenience, DBQs are readily available for download on the VA’s official website.

What Is the Purpose of a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

The VA established the use of DBQs to have a single, standardized process for collecting all necessary medical evidence to support veterans’ disability claims. It aims to help guide doctors conducting a disability exam on what medical information the VA needs to accurately assess whether a condition is a service-connected disability and thus eligible for benefits.

The information is used as a reference when deciding on the veteran’s disability rating or the severity of the disability. This makes DBQs a helpful tool in determining how much compensation or the kinds of benefits a veteran is entitled to receive.

Who Needs To Complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

If you are applying for VA disability benefits and want to speed up the process, have greater control over your medical information, and lend greater credibility to the information you provide. Then, it is recommended to submit a DBQ to evaluate your impairment and benefit.

In particular, veterans submitting a VA form 21-526ez, or the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, are also highly advised to complete a DBQ.

Take note that DBQs are voluntary. Therefore, it is possible to apply for VA disability benefits without submitting a public or independent DBQ. In such cases, the VA will conduct a medical disability exam to assess veterans’ health.

How Does a Disability Benefits Questionnaire Work?

Veterans must download the appropriate form and answer it completely and truthfully. Select the appropriate form depending on your disability from the VA website, then print and take it to your physician.

Although the form is easily downloadable, veterans cannot answer the Disability Benefits Questionnaire alone. In addition, only your healthcare provider and other physicians can fill out the VA DBQ form.

After your doctor or practitioner has completed the form, it is best to review the answers to ensure their accuracy. It is also recommended to keep a copy of the questionnaire for your personal records before submitting the original with your claims application form.

What Types of Questions Are on a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

There are over 70 types of DBQs, each tailored to specific disabilities for more specific assessments. As such, the questions can differ depending on the type of disability being examined.

In general, though, the questions will revolve around the following:

  • Current diagnosis of the condition or disability

  • Signs and symptoms experienced by the veteran

  • The severity of the condition

  • Functional impact, or how the condition affects daily life and the ability to work

  • Past and current medications taken

  • Use of medical or assistive devices

How Long Does It Take To Complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

The time will generally depend on the condition or disability being examined—the more complex the condition, the more time is necessary to finish the evaluation.

What Are the Benefits of Completing a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

Completing a DBQ offers the following benefits:

  • Greater control over who examines your condition

  • Speed up processing of disability claims

  • Ensure the accuracy of the provided medical information

  • Provide stronger supporting evidence for disability claims

  • Increased chances of receiving disability compensation

  • Increased chances of getting a favorable disability rating

How Do I Prepare for a Disability Benefits Questionnaire?

Completing a DBQ is the same as any medical exam, albeit more thorough and specific to certain conditions. Gathering relevant medical records and documents related to your condition can greatly help the physician conducting the Compensation and Pension exam and filling out the VA DBQ form.

It may also help to review your medical records, list down both usual and less prominent symptoms, and note any difficulties in doing any daily activities. These will help you provide a more accurate report of the disability’s effects, which may potentially help you get a higher VA disability rating, and, therefore, a higher VA benefit.

Can My Claim Still Be Denied Even After Submitting a DBQ?

Although a DBQ can expedite the collection process for any required medical evidence to support your disability claims, it does not guarantee you’ll get your desired VA disability rating or approval of your claims. 

As such, it is still possible for the VA to deny your claim or give you a low rating decision.

The VA often cites a lack of medical evidence for claim denials. This may mean there are still gaps or missing elements in the applicant’s provided information or medical evidence.

If that happens, you can submit more evidence supporting your claims by filling out other forms, like:

  • VA form 20-0995, or the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim form

  • VA form 20-0996, or the form for Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review

  • VA form 21-0781, or the Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for PTSD form

How Can Benefits.com Help Me With DBQs?

Benefits.com is a free service that can help you navigate the application process for VA disability and other types of benefits. In addition, we provide valuable information and assistance so you can find benefits you may be eligible for in your area or state.

We also offer resources to help you file an appeal. In addition, our team can guide you on further strengthening or closing any gaps in your medical information and evidence to help you get approved for VA disability benefits.

Visit Benefits.com today and see how we can help you get the benefits you deserve.

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