The Users Guide to the
VAWatchdog Dot Org
An IMO is an Independent Medical Opinion. The opinion is usually a report that describes the experts review of pertinent records that include service and civilian medical records and any other records that may have an impact on the opinion.
The IMO is based on records provided to the reviewer by the client. There is rarely a face to face meeting as there is no physical exam required. The veteran client must provide adequate documentation for the expert to render an opinion.
An IME is an Independent Medical Examination. This is a less frequently used option as face to face scheduling is required and the review of records and completion of DBQs is still required so the IME may add time and expense to your case. But if you don't have an accurate or clear diagnosis of a medical condition to claim as a disability, the IME may help you sort that detail out.
DBQs are Disability Benefits Questionnaires and a DBQ is required for every possible condition that you may seek disability benefits for. Your choice is pretty simple...you can have a DBQ completed by your IMO doctor and get it done right or you can wait until the inevitable C & P exam and hope the examiner will do you a favor and pay attention.
I'll let you guess which DBQ will help you the most.
There is no substitute for a medical opinion that is accurate and completed by an expert with significant experience and credentials.
July 2019 Update regarding Independent Medical Opinions/Examinations/DBQs
An IMO costs you money you may not have. You have to pay the doctor up front and out of your pocket because insurance won't help and neither will VA. This is an investment in your future but nonetheless, it can be expensive.
In the not too distant past we recommended that veterans wait to seek an IMO until they were denied a benefit. We figured the best use of your money was to wait and hope you were awarded the benefit you applied for so that you wouldn't have to deal with an appeal and the expense.
We've changed our thinking on this and today we believe that the IMO is the single best way there is to win your claim while avoiding a lengthy appeal. The appeals system has become more onerous and convoluted than ever before so it becomes more important that we avoid it altogether.
When you submit an expert IMO and appropriate DBQs along with your original claim, you increase your chances of winning to almost 100%. We have to say "almost" because this is VA we're dealing with and they can FUBAR anything. But if you go in fighting, you've probably already won.
This includes getting the correct DBQ completed before you file your claim or as you file your claim. A DBQ is required for everything and if you have yours completed by your IMO doctor, that's the one that is more likely to help you prevail. If you don't go in with your own DBQ, the VA will have their employee or contractor complete it for you and you can guess how that will go.
The bottom line is that you really need to get the IMO done up front and early on if you're serious about winning your claim with as little fuss as possible. Here's a little secret I don't tell everyone...if I hadn't had an IMO done 15 years ago, I'd still be fighting with VA about my rating. I took a loan against my house to pay for 2 IMO exams as I was going through appeals. That was one of the hardest decisions I ever made and it was one of the best.
The IMO works and it works well for you. Talk with one of these doctors and get serious about your claim!
C & P Scans May Be Revealing!
Do Your Homework!
When you arrive at the landing page for the BVA search function, use words like 'IMO' and 'IME' and 'medical opinion' along with your claimed condition to learn how the court views an IMO tied to a condition like yours.
For example, if you are researching how the BVA views the opinions of expert disability doctors on degenerative arthritis of the hips, type in 'hip arthritis IMO medical opinion' and choose the years you want to search.
Remember that BVA decisions do not establish
precedence and just because a veteran prevailed in an appeal similar to yours doesn't mean a chip shot for you.
What does it cost?
GREAT question. Only the doctor you choose can answer that directly. Here's how it works...
Prices for work are set by each doctor for his or her own practice. There are no rules or regulations governing these fees, insurance doesn't play into the equation so the doctor can charge as much or as little as they wish.
You can barter, you can negotiate and in the end you'll have to pay for the work you need up front. Why do you have to pay in advance? Well, some people aren't as honest as you are and they'll try to stiff the doctor even if they win tens of thousands of dollars.
There is no refund if you lose. If the IMO doesn't seal the deal, then you have no recourse but to continue your appeal with the help of a lawyer. The IMO greatly improves the odds that you'll prevail but guarantees absolutely nothing.
We trust that the doctors you'll meet here are offering fair prices for their work product. Having said that, an IMO and the appropriate DBQs can mean that the doctor has to invest hours of time reading your records and writing reports and filling out DBQs. You already know that the time a doctor spends on you doesn't come cheap...of course there's a reason for that but that's another discussion.
How can you afford it? If you're like most of us, you can probably get a loan that covers medical procedures. There are finance companies out there that will help you pay for medical procedures and if your credit isn't totally broken, this may be what you need.
OK...I never recommend credit. I don't have a credit card and I don't borrow money. But I have when it was the right thing to do and getting your claim resolved with as little angst as possible is one of those moments.
If we assume that getting an IMO will help you to prevail and get there faster, we can plan that you'll use any new money to pay off the loan that you took for the IMO and you're a winner!
Should we have to do all this to be awarded the benefits we worked so hard for? No, of course not. But it is what it is so you may as well accept that and move ahead with your claims...and consider an IMO today!
IMO/IME Independent Medical Opinions Independent Medical Examinations
We recommend that every veteran consider seeking an Independent Medical Examination (IME) or an Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) for their VA disability benefits claim. The VA has become increasingly difficult to navigate.
Because of the difficulty in receiving a fair decision from VA, we at VAWatchdog have recognized that veterans who have even the simplest claims can no longer rely on a fair decision. Every veteran should prepare to have expert help as they develop their claim. This includes legal representation by a VA accredited attorney as well as expert opinions from highly skilled and well qualified physicians.
There is a difference in the IME and the IMO. The IME requires your physical presence in front of the examining physician. The IMO is based on the opinion of the physician after he has thoroughly reviewed your records. It is our opinion that the IMO may
be the better choice in most cases.
To write an acceptable IMO is not a simple task. The physician must first understand the law that applies to the claim.
The physician must know the details of how disabling conditions may affect the overall quality of life of the veteran patient. Disability law is not something that most physicians are trained in. Each of the doctors featured here is expert in the arena of
disability medicine. We urge veterans to review their claims with one of these physicians and to seek the help of an attorney.
VA Form 21-526EZ
Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection
Temporary Total Disability Rating
Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151
Special Monthly Compensation
Special Home Adaptation
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child
You've Arrived at the VAWatchdog Dot Org!
We've been keeping veterans informed of news and events important to them since 2005.
You'll find all you need to file your claim and referrals to professionals who can help you when things don't go well.
What you won't find here is unending chat or opinions from strangers who like to think of themselves as experts.
Our goal is to ensure that you are awarded the benefits you earned with your service to our country.
We're here to help you take charge of your benefits, and that is all.
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for the veteran claimant who is involved and informed. Once you've learned how the system really works, filing correctly...getting it right the first time...isn't that hard to do. Educate yourself by reading what the experts have to say.
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