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Veterans Law

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs): Evidence for Your VA Disability Claim

April Donahower

June 24, 2020

Updated: June 20, 2024

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs): Evidence for Your VA Disability Claim

As part of VA’s Duty to Assist claimants in gathering information helpful for their disability cases, VA often conducts examinations called Compensation and Pension Examinations, also known as C&P Exams.  To create a more uniform process, VA developed Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).

What are DBQs?

Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are downloadable forms created for veterans’ use in the evaluation process for VA disability benefits.  Specifically, DBQs are intended to speed up the processing of claims for service-connected compensation and give veterans more control over the disability claims process.  These forms were created to answer questions about important aspects of disability, including symptoms, severity, possible causes, and relation to other disabilities, as well as to capture information required under the VA Schedule of Disability Ratings found within the Code of Federal Regulations.

How Do DBQs Work?

While veterans were previously able to access these forms, they were not permitted to fill them out themselves.  Instead, veterans had the option of visiting a private or VA healthcare provider who could complete the evaluation on their behalf.  When having a private healthcare provider complete a DBQ, it is important for veterans to do the following:

  1. Access the form online through VA’s website and download it (see changes below);
  2. Have your doctor or healthcare provider complete the form;
  3. Review their findings and save a copy for your records; and
  4. Submit the form to VA

The streamlined forms use checkboxes and standardized language so that disability evaluations can be made quickly and correctly.  Specifically, healthcare providers will “check a box” next to descriptions that most accurately depict the disability in question.

The use of DBQs also provides veterans with an improved means to submit medical evidence to support their claims.  It is important for veterans to be honest about their symptoms to ensure that all documentation accurately reflects the level of impairment caused by the claimed condition(s).

In some cases, a DBQ may even replace a Compensation & Pension (C&P) examination entirely.  This is helpful because C&P examinations often add to the long wait times experienced throughout the disability claims process.


VA DBQ: Disability Benefits Questionnaire Explained

What Conditions Are Covered by DBQs?

There are currently more than 70 DBQs covering a range of medical conditions.  Some of the DBQs are specific to a single condition (e.g., hypertension, arthritis, prostate cancer), but most forms can be used for several related conditions (e.g., heart conditions, kidney conditions).

If there is no DBQ for your specific condition, VA will use the DBQ that is the most general and all-encompassing for that category.  For example, VA is looking for a DBQ that corresponds with your Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  There will be three different DBQs under the Psychological category: Eating Disorders, PTSD, and Mental Disorders (other).  Here, since Generalized Anxiety Disorder does not have its own DBQ, you would use the DBQ for Mental Disorders as it broadly covers the claimed condition.

Most Requested DBQs

According to data obtained by VA, the most commonly requested DBQs are:

  • Hearing Loss and Tinnitus – 13.52% of total exams requested (118,628 forms)
  • Back (Thoracolumbar Spine) – 24% of total exams requested (54,734 forms)
  • Knee and Lower Leg – 5.39% of total exams requested (47,272 forms)
  • Mental Disorder – 5.26% of total exams requested (46,100 forms)

Where Can I Find DBQs?

VA often used DBQs during C&P examinations conducted by the Veterans Health Administration and VA’s contracted vendor clinicians.  However, without prior notice and amidst COVID-19 related closures at VA facilities, VA abruptly removed all the public-facing versions of the DBQ form from its website.

This has since changed as a result of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and these forms are now available again on VA’s website.

Making DBQs publicly available gives veterans more insight into the examination portion of the claims process and allows private healthcare providers to gain access to the information they need to evaluate a veteran’s condition(s).

How Can DBQs Help Veterans?

Publicly available DBQs increase efficiency and may help to expedite the claims process.

Direct access to these DBQs also allows veterans to request that their own providers, who were often specialized in a particular relevant area of medicine and familiar with the veterans’ medical history and conditions, complete these forms. This allows veterans to submit DBQs in support of their application for benefits, or even with their application for benefits as part of a fully developed claim.

Submitting these completed DBQs may serve to eliminate months, and often years, many veterans must wait for an exam.  They are also particularly useful for veterans living in rural areas or overseas who may experience even longer wait times for exams or greater difficulty traveling the distance required to attend one of VA’s exams.

Why Might a Veteran Not Use a DBQ?

There may be some instances where it is not possible or would not be beneficial for a veteran to use a DBQ.  As mentioned, DBQs are not available for every condition that VA rates.

In some rare instances, a private doctor may refuse to fill out a DBQ for a veteran.  This means that a veteran will either need to have another doctor who treats their condition fill out a DBQ or not submit a DBQ.

CCK Provides Access to DBQs Online

VA previously removed these forms from public view in the past because VA believed it had sufficiently expanded its own capacity to conduct these examinations.

CCK has and will continue to provide DBQs for Veterans to access.

Find DBQ Forms Here

Access VA DBQ forms provided by CCK here:

We make no claims as to how helpful these may be in the outcome of a veteran’s case nor are we providing advice; we are simply providing access to this resource to allow veterans the greatest choice and control over the VA claims process.

About the Author

Bio photo of April Donahower

April joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in August of 2016 as an Associate Attorney. She currently serves as the Appellate Supervisor in our Veterans Law practice. April’s practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about April