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Congressman Tim Ryan Urges the VA to Reverse New Policies Making it Harder for Veterans to Receive Care

April 4, 2020
Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reverse two recent policy changes that make it harder for veterans to access deserved disability benefits.

In recent weeks, the VA quietly discontinued the use of Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ’s) and also repealed the 48-hour Veteran Service Officer review period that allowed Veteran Service Officers to review the accuracy of VA disability benefits decisions. The Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars William “Doc” Schmitz called the repeal of the review period “despicable” and “inconceivable.”

“Lastly, amid a global pandemic causing unprecedented economic hardship across all sectors of our economy and affecting the health and livelihoods of veterans everywhere, it is particularly difficult to understand why these harmful decisions would be made now and without extensive consultation with Congress and Veteran Service Organizations. Again, I urge you to immediately reverse these ill-considered decisions,” wrote Congressman Ryan.

DBQ forms were designed to improve transparency and consistency in the examination process, assist veterans in rural areas, and reduce wait times. DBQs are an integral part of the toolkit VSOs use to assist veterans—especially those who live in rural areas, are terminally ill, or lack adequate transportation.

The 48-hour Veteran Service Officer review period is a crucial and commonsense step to reduce errors in the adjudication process that—if not caught during the review period—have the potential to cost veterans and the VA much more time and money to fix later.

Ryan’s full letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be viewed here.