To receive any type of compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you must first submit all relevant evidence in your possession and/or provide information sufficient to enable VA to obtain all relevant evidence not in your possession. This included as part of your application should be your discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent), your service treatment records (if they are in your possession), and medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports).
The VA established the Fully Developed Claim Program to expeditiously process claims certified by the claimant or his/her representative as meeting the Fully Developed Claim criteria. In order for you to participate in the Fully Developed Claim Program, you must obtain the relevant service treatment and personnel records and provide them to VA.
If VA decides your claim before one year from the date it is received, you will still have the remainder of the one-year period to submit additional information or evidence necessary to support your claim. For this program, VA will only obtain service treatment records and Federal treatment records when you identify them.
As a standard claim, VA is responsible for getting relevant records from any Federal agency that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain. VA will make every reasonable effort to obtain relevant records not held by a Federal agency that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain. These may include privately held evidence and information you tell us about (such as records from a private doctor or hospital) and/or records from State or local governments or current or former employers. VA will provide a medical examination for you, or get a medical opinion, if determined it is necessary to make a claims decision.
In November 2000, Congress passed the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) to define what VA’s responsibilities are in assisting claimants in obtaining evidence to support a claim and also to define the responsibilities of the claimant. The VA’s responsibilities to the claimant include obtaining relevant records from any Federal agency. This may include records from the military, VA Medical Centers (including private facilities where VA authorized treatment), or the Social Security Administration. They must also provide the claimant with a medical examination, or obtain a medical opinion, if determined it is necessary to decide the claim.
The Claimant’s responsibilities include obtaining relevant records not held by a Federal agency. This may include records from State or local governments, private doctors and hospitals, or current or former employers. VA may assist in obtaining these records. They must also provide enough information to VA so that records may be requested.
For example, a veteran has filed a claim for disability compensation and, on the application, indicated treatment from a private doctor and an award of social security disability. In this case, VA would be responsible in obtaining the Social Security records and would assist in obtaining the private physician records, but ultimate responsibility in obtaining the private records would be with the veteran.
If the veteran would really like to speed up the processing of compensation and pension claims, they should fill out the Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs). DBQs are downloadable forms for Veterans to use in the disability evaluation process. DBQs allow veterans and servicemembers to have more control over their disability claims process by giving them the option of completing an examination with their own healthcare provide instead of at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.
DBQs enable private healthcare providers to capture important information needed by VA to accurately evaluate and promptly decide Veterans’ claims for benefits. More than 70 DBQs are available that use check boxes and standardized language to streamline the process. DBQs average about five pages in length. Veterans are responsible for any fees their private provider may charge for completing a DBQ.
The DBQ process involves four steps. First you must access the form online and download it. Once downloaded, have your healthcare provider complete the form. Save a copy specifically for your records, and submit the form to the VA.
The use of DBQs are an important example of the initiatives that have been taken by the Veterans Benefits Administration to provide better service to the veterans and to eliminate the backlog. When you apply for compensation, it will help greatly to use a DBQ.