Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)
Did you know that veterans can visit a private health care provider to complete their disability evaluation forms? The VA uses Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) to grant veterans greater control over their disability claims process and there are 70 different DBQ's available for various conditions. I've completed many Behavioral Health DBQ's including the ones below (click the links below to see what these forms look like:
MENTAL DISORDERS (OTHER THAN PTSD AND EATING DISORDERS)
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
REMEMBER, the VA provides these evaluations FREE of CHARGE and there are important ways you can prepare for any VA Compensation and Pension Exam. Personally, I have learned a lot from Combat Craig. His videos are very direct and no nonsense. He has a get in and get out style that I enjoy. He doesn't recommend you lie about anything, but sometimes we reflexively try to look like we've got it together when we're falling apart. How many times does someone ask you, "Hey, how's it going?" What do you reply? Normally, it's "I'm okay... doing fine." Are you really doing fine? Probably not if you're requesting a mental health or any other disability. We've learned "Semper Gumby" till we bend so far we break.
Another great thing now is that the VA allows you to submit all kinds of documentation to support your claim BEFORE you ever walk into your Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. That means you can submit buddy/spouse statements, court records supporting your claim, pictures of your busted fist when you punched that wall, a copy of your transcripts from school showing how your grades went down after you started that new medication for PTSD that makes you forgetful. ANYTHING that supports your claim and that will help your examiner understand just where your pressure points seem to be worst. Again, I really like Combat Craig's advice on youtube. Click here to see where you can go to submit documentation.
If you choose to have a private evaluation, it should only be for a SECOND opinion and AFTER consulting with an attorney skilled at responding to VA decisions. I will NOT complete the VA DBQ as a first time evaluation (barring extenuating circumstances) because you will be responsible for my fee - and why should you pay for something you can get for FREE? I charge $800 for one DBQ.
Why does it cost so much when the VA will do it for free?
Because the VA providers, even the contracted ones, have many perks that cut down on the time the examiner has to spend reviewing your records. Sometimes they conduct testing, but these days, they often don't. Then the actual interview is about 15-30 minutes total. I, on the other hand, review your records and administer psychological testing so that there is no question you've had a thorough evaluation. My evaluation typically involves:
- Psychological testing (plan for 2-3 hours)
- Review of your medical records
- Clinical interview which lasts about 60-75 minutes
Hill and Ponton
The Veteran's Law Office
As a retired AF psychologist, I can honestly say that if you invest the time in learning more about the system, it will typically pay you back in one form or another. It's easy to get confused and disheartened by how some people, especially those that are supposed to be there to help you, seem like they just don't care. It can feel like, at best, the VA personnel are doing a job and not all that invested. But don't give up. You have rights. Enforce them. Because if you don't, who will?