A Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation & Pension Examination, commonly referred to as a VA C&P exam, is an examination that the VA often asks those seeking disability compensation or pension benefits to undergo as part of the process of considering their claim. Unlike usual medical exams, a C&P exam does not involve any treatment or medicines being prescribed. Instead, this is a time for the examiner to review your medical records, including those generated by the Department of Defense and other health records, as well as records pertaining to your time in service. The reasons for this exam include determining whether your disability is a result of military service and eligible for compensation or if your condition is worsening and deserves an increased rating. While the concept seems straightforward, virtually all matters pertaining to VA benefits have become increasingly more complicated in recent years and veterans are having a hard time keeping up with all of the changes in procedures.
If you are scheduled to undergo a VA C&P exam, here are five tips that can help you ensure that the exam is productive:
Before your VA C&P exam takes place, you should begin preparing for it by writing down all of the symptoms that you are experiencing and the frequency at which you experience them and how they impact your life. Your spouse or a friend can assist you in keeping track of the occurrences so that you can give an accurate picture of what you are experiencing.
You are probably already aware that it is often difficult to schedule an appointment through the VA, and you may not be seen for months. If you arrive late for your VA C&P exam, your appointment will likely be canceled as the examiner will not have sufficient time to go over your records and your history with you before it is time for him or her to see the next scheduled patient. It is recommended that you arrive for your appointment at least 15 minutes early to ensure that you are able to find the exam area and sign in before your exam begins.
It seems rather strange to suggest limiting information after having prepared by writing down all of your symptoms and their impact on your life (tip #1). However, limiting the information you provide doesn’t mean leaving out symptoms, nor does it mean that you should be untruthful. It means that you should keep your answers short, providing only the information that you were asked for. A good rule of thumb is to keep your answers around 20 seconds or less. The reason for this is that the information offered in a lengthy explanation is often lost. Losing or not being able to glean the specific facts they need to make a decision can result in a denial of your claim. Before your appointment, practice stating the reason that your disability is related to military service in 20 seconds. As a spouse, family member, or friend to evaluate your answer to that question so that you can work on making your answer as concise as possible.
It is important to remember that your examiner has a job to do. He or she is not responsible for causing your pain or the impacts to your life that have been created by your service-related injury, nor are they responsible for causing the system to be overburdened and making the act of receiving benefits that you are entitled to confusing and difficult. Now is not the time to solicit opinions on what you should do about your condition, nor is it an appropriate time to give your opinion on the VA system, politics, or anything else. There is no reason to be rude to the examiner or to “act” injured or sick in order to further convince the examiner of how bad your condition is. Your medical and military records are likely hundreds of pages long and that information — along with your concise answers to the questions asked — are the sole purpose of the appointment.
After your VA C&P exam is complete, be sure to get a business card from the doctor who conducted the exam so that you have his or her information. Document the appointment, including information about what tests were performed, which questions were asked, any tools that were used to take measurements and what measurements were taken, and anything else of note that occurred.
The purpose of the C&P exam is to determine whether your condition is related to service and/or the extent of your service-connected disability. It is not much different than a doctor’s appointment – you will answer questions about your condition and the examiner will evaluate your condition with a series of tests that will vary depending on your condition.
Every claim is different, because everyone’s situation is different. After your VA C&P exam, and once your claim is complete, the VA estimates it could take 3-4 months before you hear a decision.
Sometimes veterans will be required to undergo a reevaluation. These additional VA C&P exams could be a result of a material change in the veteran’s condition, or it may be a routine reevaluation that happens about every 5 years for most veterans with a service-connected disability.
VetLaw’s experienced veterans’ disability lawyers can help analyze the reasons for your initial or any subsequent denial, assist you in gathering any additional evidence that can help prove your case, and guide you to pursue the appeal path that aligns with your unique circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, we can appear with you in-person before the Veterans’ Law Judge who will hold your hearing and decide your case. Since the time to file a request for an appeal is limited, call us today to schedule a free case review and consultation.