VHA asks Legion to help in DBQ review

The American Legion has been invited by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to review and comment on new training modules for its Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ), used by doctors who provide Compensation and Pension (C & P) examinations.

Dr. Gerald Cross, VHA’s chief officer for disability and medical assessment, extended the invitation during a July 26 meeting with staff from the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. Cross said the DBQ training modules are one of several VHA initiatives that include development of the Acceptable Clinical Evidence program that help to speed up the processing of disability benefits claims.
“Being involved with the review process for the DBQ training modules gives us an important opportunity to make certain that our veterans are getting top-quality C & P exams,” said Jacob Gadd, the Legion’s deputy director of health. “We all know the value of proper training in avoiding unnecessary delays and meeting performance goals.”

In recent years, Gadd said, the Department of Veterans Affairs experienced greater delays in providing C & P exams to veterans, because of increases in the number and complexity of claims being filed. VA subsequently set a goal of 30 days or less to schedule and complete C & P exams; its national average for the first and second quarters of 2012 were 27 days and 25 days, respectively.

VA’s Office of Disabilities and Medical Assessment, opened in 2011, has contracted 30 additional physicians across the country to help with C & P exams at several VA medical centers and IDES pilot sites. The office has also developed a certification and testing program for all C & P exam providers. Previously, Cross said, doctors were pulled from panels or various departments at VA hospitals to conduct C & P exams without proper training.

“Now these locum tenens (temporary) doctors can go where they’re needed to move the C & P process along,” Gadd said. “They can be assigned to VA facilities for several months while new doctors are being hired, or concentrate on a facility with a sudden backlog increase caused by a spike in claims.”

VHA’s Office of Disabilities and Medical Assessment is responsible for several programs, including direct support for C & P clinical assessments and managing the Disability Evaluation Management and IDES programs.