What is a PTSD Review DBQ?
This article answers the questions, “What is a PTSD Review DBQ?” and “Can it Help My Case?”.
A PTSD DBQ (Disability Benefits Questionnaires) is a relatively recent addition to a C&P medical examination. DBQs can also be part of TDIU claims. That is quite a few acronyms, so let us break them down a bit.
Doctors once believed that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was a “processing disorder” which randomly affected some people. Researchers now know that PTSD is a physical brain injury due to a chemical imbalance. Exposure to combat stress erodes the cerebral cortex, causing the amygdala to expand. The amygdala controls emotional responses, which explains why PTSD victims experience symptoms like heightened awareness, flashbacks, depression, and nightmares.
PTSD affects different people in different ways. To standardize the disability review process, the VA recently added Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) to its Compensation and Pension (C&P) medical examinations. DBQs can sometimes provide more objective information to the claims examiners who are reviewing the claims.
TDIU, or Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability, is a term for Veterans who are not 100% disabled, but they are unable to find gainful employment because of a service-related condition.
The C&P Examination and Veterans’ Benefits
Generally, when Veterans apply for disability benefits, they must submit to a C&P exam, typically performed by a VA doctor/nurse, or a contracted third-party.
These physicians/nurses usually have no problem identifying physical disabilities, like a knee or back injury. The next step, which is determining the physical extent of the disability, is usually rather straightforward, as well. For example, the doctor might administer a range-of-motion test to determine the extent of a lingering shoulder injury.
But “disability” is not just a medical term. It also has educational and vocational connotations. For example, a 50% loss of use in a shoulder may have little if any effect on a college professor, but that injury could be devastating for a coal miner. Many C&P doctors have considerable medical expertise, but they know nothing about the other components of disability.
With regard to mental disabilities, like PTSD, the C&P system often breaks down altogether. As mentioned, PTSD affects different victims in different ways. So, there is no “range of motion” test to administer. Additionally, many C&P doctors are adept at dealing with physical disabilities, but they are out of their element when it comes to PTSD.
The DBQs partially address this deficiency. The information they provide could help claims examiner better evaluate the application. But the DBQ only goes so far.
Additional Evidence Needed
To supplement the DBQ and the C&P doctor’s report, a VA disability benefits attorney often turns to evidence like:
- Independent Medical Report: Doctors who focus on certain types of mental or physical disabilities often provide much different information than doctors who are essentially general practitioners and are on the VA’s payroll.
- Lay Witness Testimony: Many brain injury victims, including PTSD victims, do not realize the extent of their injuries. The brain is adept at concealing its own wounds. So, testimony from friends and coworkers about a Veteran’s daily activities, and how PTSD affects these activities, is often compelling.
- Vocational Experts: These individuals review the Veteran’s medical records and occupational background to deliver a more reasoned opinion about the Veteran’s employment prospects.
Typically, Veterans have the burden of proof to establish a disability, and the burden of persuasion to show the VA how the disability truly affects their lives.
Count on Hard-Working Lawyers
DBQs help PTSD disability claims and aggressive advocacy helps even more. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.