What’s in a DBQ for Mental Health?

mental health dbq

A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) is a supporting document to aid a Veteran in filing their claim. The DBQ aids the rater and the doctor in moving forward and helping to cut down wait time on the process. There are various DBQs that the VA has forms for, but the one we will discuss in detail will be the Mental Health DBQ. There are specific aspects that make DBQ’s unique, which is why we will be going over what is in a DBQ for mental health to prepare you for your next one!

Note – PTSD is not under the Mental Health DBQ as it has its separate form.

What is a DBQ?

Before we discuss the Mental Health DBQ, it is critical for you to know what is a DBQ? As mentioned earlier, it is a form that can be used to support your claim. They are medical forms that are used by medical professionals to evaluate the overall condition of the Veteran. DBQs will help the speed of processing the C&P claims.  

DBQs also allow Veterans and Service Members to have more control over the claims by visiting their Primary Care Manager within the local area. It is very beneficial since it helps the Veteran to feel at ease with their regular doctor.

The forms also use checkboxes and consistent language, which will aid the disability rating for the VA as accurate and quickly as possible.

For a more in-depth of a DBQ, check out Brian’s video about What is a DBQ!

How a DBQ Is Reviewed

For a questionnaire to occur, the examiner for mental disorders must meet specific criteria for the initial exam. These criteria follow strict guidelines, and there is a waiver to bypass this. The examiner MUST be board certified, a licensed psychologist, or someone under supervision of a board-certified or licensed psychiatrist. 

To review the examination for mental disorders, the examiner must meet one of the criteria stated in the previous paragraph. They can also be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a nurse practitioner, or a clinical nurse specialist. A physician assistant can also review while being under close supervision.

The exam time for each DBQ will vary every Veteran. The DBQ can be done in person or over the phone. If you choose to conduct a DBQ over the phone, it is highly recommended to find a quiet place with no distractions. Having fewer distractions allows the examiner will better assess your answers. 

The time allotted can last up to two hours. The most important thing to remember is to be transparent and do your best to answer the questions. Avoid deviating from the examiner’s questions — this is crucial to get your story across!

Mental Health DBQ and Sections

The Mental Health DBQ is comprised of five-pages and divided into eight sections. They are:

Section I – Diagnosis

Section II – Clinical Findings

Section III – Check symptoms that apply

Section IV – Other Symptoms

Section V – Competency

Section VI – Remarks

Section VIII – Certification and Signature

The following will discuss each section providing specific information. 

Section I – Diagnosis

The first section deals with the diagnosis, symptoms, and occupational social impairment. The examiner will most likely have reviewed your medical files from the VA. The data will entail what type of mental health disorders occurred. If a diagnosis did occur, the examiner will write it down and confirm with you. If there were multiple diagnoses, inform the medical professional.

If you have a diagnosis that occurred while in service, the examiner will jot it down and ask what symptoms you went through. They can be from irritability, anger outbursts, extreme mood changes, eating habits, to withdrawing from loved ones. 

This section also asks if you went through a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If so, the medical professional will ask the details. The TBI may or may not be recorded in your records, so it’s best to know that beforehand.

Within the Occupational and Social Impairment area, there are quite a few checkboxes from “No Mental Disorder Diagnosis” to “Total Occupational and Social Impairment”. Each checkbox will need to correlate with your current situation.

Section II – Clinical Findings

This section will be the “meat” of the questionnaire as it will entail what supporting evidence is found. Similar to a court case, you must present clear and factual evidence to win the case. Without a robust supportive case, it will be a challenge for the VA to approve your claim.

Another part of the clinical findings will be in your history. If you do have any mental health situations, this is your time to tell it. Your experience may be during service, but can occur prior and post service as well. The more detailed, the better. Relevant information to share includes family history, marital history, occupation, legal/behavioral, substance abuse, or any other events that deal with mental health.

During this section, you might feel uncomfortable to speak to the examiner, which is normal. Remember, the more vulnerable you are the better chance you have at sharing your truth.

Section III – Check all symptoms that apply

The symptoms in this section will aid the VA’s rating, if applicable. Anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, impaired judgment, suicidal ideation, and difficulty in adapting to specific environments are some examples.

Section IV – Other Symptoms

The medical professional will write down any other symptoms not mentioned.

Section V – Competency

In this section, the only question being asked of the Veteran is if he/she is capable of managing their affairs. Based on what the examiner has observed or took notes, they will determine the answer. If the answer is “no”, the examiner will explain in detail.

Section VI – Remarks

Remarks are documented and shared based on how the Veteran answered the questions or acted. Any other mental health information will be written down for the record.

The last section will include the signature and title of the medical professional.

After the DBQ Questionnaire 

After completing your DBQ, you might feel worn out due to some of the overwhelming questions. At this time, you may have some questions on any clarifying information. This is your last opportunity to ask them.


Read your DBQ before the examination! This will prepare you for the types of questions that might be asked.

Read your medical records to see which mental health conditions you have diagnosed in service.

Remember, having a solid DBQ is a supporting tool with your C&P exam.

During your entire exam, be vulnerable. Answer the questions, and don’t stray away from what is being asked!

What’s Next?

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