New health assessment for leaving service

By Nancy Hogan, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Veterans Benefits Administration on May 15, 2023

Active-duty service members who are transitioning out of the military and filing a VA claim for disability benefits shouldn't have to attend different, but similar, medical examinations conducted by DoD and VA. Historically, they have, and now that's about to change.

Why do you have to go to these exams at all?

Service members are required to meet the Department of Defense's statutory and policy requirements for a Separation Health Assessment before they transition from active-duty service. And for good reason. These requirements are in place to ensure the service member's health care needs are addressed before separating. VA also requires a similar separation examination for those filing disability claims through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program or the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), to evaluate the claimed conditions and make a rating determination.

These two different-but-similar exams are redundant.

Thankfully, VA and DoD have completed a multi-year effort focused on developing a single comprehensive exam form to be used eventually by both agencies. That way, regardless of which agency conducts the exam, the other can use it for all of the reasons previously stated. 

The two versions of this separation health assessment meets the needs of both agencies and, most importantly, minimizes the redundant examinations.

Service members are required to provide the Part A self-assessment questionnaire when filing a BDD or IDES claim as of April 1. On May 1, VA began using a new Separation Health Assessment Disability Benefit Questionnaire (Parts A and B). DoD is expected to begin using the common form (to include a "DoD Use Only" Part C) later this year. ?The new "common form" will streamline the disability claim process, reduce redundant examinations, and ensure medical assessments for those separating from service are more accurate and complete. It also will encourage service members to enroll or participate in additional transition services when warranted.

How did you get the new form?

The departments' clinicians worked together to establish content of the common form, comprising both subjective patient histories and objective clinical evaluations. Clinical subject matter experts and specialty groups covering audiology, mental health, women's health, environmental and occupational exposure, traumatic brain injury, vision and dental health identified baseline elements for inclusion in the common form.?Further collaborative efforts produced high-value improvements that address suicide and violence risk screenings and the communication of resources for survivors of sexual trauma in the military.? 

This new form will replace DoD Forms 2807-1, "Report of Medical History," and 2808, "Report of Medical Exam," for documentation of Separation Health Assessments otherwise required of service members at separation. It also will replace the prior VA Separation Health Assessment (SHA) DBQ. 

For more information about VA claim exams, visit VA's website on disability claims exams.?