Matt Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Matthew Hill here with-
Carol Ponton: Carol Ponton.
Matt Hill: Today, we’d like to talk to you about a question we get all the time. We have veterans say, “My doctor at the VA supports my claim, why am I not getting benefits? Why am I not getting service connection?”
I think to understand this question, which is valid, you first need to understand the structure of the VA. The VA is, I believe, it’s the biggest bureaucracy we have and at the very top there’s a very significant break. On one branch, you have the Veterans Health Administration and on the competing branch, if you will, you have the Veterans Benefit Administration. I like to refer to the Veterans Health Administration as the brick and mortar that you see. The doctors, the nurses, the hospitals. The Veterans Benefit Administration, it’s kind of like the shadow VA. You know they’re there, but you never see them. All that to say your doctor works for the Veterans Health Administration. He might be saying, “Yeah, I think you should get benefits,” but he does not have the final say. The final say is from some decision maker over on the other branch, the Veterans Benefit Administration, but you can use your doctor.
Carol Ponton: Right. If your doctor is favorable, there’s a form called a DBQ for every problem that you might be claiming.
Matt Hill: Disability Benefits Questionnaire.
Carol Ponton: It’s a Disability Benefits Questionnaire, a DBQ. These forms are for your back or for your arthritis or for PTSD. What you do is you download a form, you take it to your doctor and you say, “Please help me. This is the only way that I can get proof of my disability over to the section that’s going to make a decision on my claim.” A lot of doctors will help you. Normally, what the VA goes by is that Compensation and Pension Exam, but when you have a treating doctor who works for the VA saying something totally different, that can’t but help your case a great deal.
Matt Hill: I found that my luck has not been as good as Carol’s when getting treating doctors at the VA to fill out the forms. A lot of times they’ll say that management told them they’re not allowed to do it. When you have a doctor saying that, putting the form in front of them and saying, “Look, this could really help me, you believe I deserve it, as I do. Please fill this out.” It’s something to where if it’s that versus C&P Exam and you lose, I would definitely appeal because there’s no law that says your treating doctor deserves more weight, but as you look at it that person knows you a lot better than some C&P or some contracted doctor or some contracted nurse that the VA had to do a quick C&P Exam for you.
Carol Ponton: The VA regulations say that they have to fill out this DBQ form for you. The administration of that medical center may not like it, but that’s not what the VA has told their doctors. They said, “If you have a patient, they want this DBQ filled out, then you need to fill it out for them.” If you have a doctor that doesn’t seem so favorable, don’t get them to fill out anything because they may really do a job on you.
Matt Hill: We’ve seen that. They fill it out, but it’s negative.
Carol Ponton: Yeah, that we’ve seen. You want a doctor that is saying they like you, they want to help you. It’s not something that if you have lawyer they can really do because the doctor is going to act because they have a relationship with you.
Matt Hill: Right.
Carol Ponton: They want to help you. If you very kindly ask them, “Can you please help me,” I think a lot of them will.
Matt Hill: That’s all we have on that. Thank you for joining us.