Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) and Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) are partnering together to introduce the Veterans Benefits Fairness and Transparency Act. This bipartisan bill will protect veterans applying for VA disability benefits by requiring the VA to maintain availability of disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) on the VA website. These are the forms medical providers and others assisting veterans use to submit evidence supporting disability claims. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) removed the DBQ forms from their website and closed its offices to in-person meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, undermining veterans’ ability to submit evidence in support of disability claims.
Additionally, the bill requires the VBA to accept a veteran’s DBQ for one year after it is completed by their non-VA medical provider, even if the VBA updates or changes the DBQ form. Veterans in Kentucky have reported difficulty submitting their disability claims, to which they are legally entitled, solely because the VBA changed its forms without their knowledge before the veteran was able to submit the form to the VA after getting the DBQ form completed. This legislation would rectify that issue. Denny Hart, a veteran and member of the Sixth District Veterans Coalition, brought this issue to the attention of Congressman Barr.
“This legislation will restore access for veterans and their representatives to the DBQ forms required by the VA to submit medical evidence justifying a VA disability claim,” said Congressman Barr. “Our proposal also prevents veterans from having their disability claim delayed or denied because the VA changed their DBQ form during the application process without the veteran knowing. During this pandemic, we must ensure our veterans disability claims process is not paused or compromised and that we protect veterans from unnecessary burdens while securing benefits owed to them.”
“The brave men and women who return home from serving our country are entitled to disability benefits, however without transparent access to the DBQ form, countless veterans may go without the ability to successfully file a claim,” said Congresswoman Luria. “As Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, I’m proud to partner with Congressman Barr to ensure our veterans have access to the resources they need to receive the benefits they’ve earned.”
“I applaud my friend, Rep. Barr, for leading this bipartisan effort to make it easier for veterans to receive disability compensation for the injuries and illnesses they incurred in service to our country,” said Ranking Member Roe. “The last thing veterans deserve is to be met with bureaucratic red tape once they hang up their uniforms and seek the benefits they have earned. That is especially true in a pandemic. This bill would require VA to publish forms on VA’s website to help guide veterans in submitting appropriate evidence in support of their claim and ensure that veterans are not penalized if VA changes a form that has already been filled out by their doctor. I look forward to joining Rep. Barr in ensuring this bill is signed into law by President Trump as soon as possible.”