In some cases, the VA will request that disability claimants complete a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination. The C&P exam provides additional information to the VA so you can be assigned a disability rating. Because the rating you receive is based on the severity of your disability, it will affect the amount of compensation you receive. That makes the C&P exam an essential part of many veterans’ claims. Disability Law Group is here to explain the C&P process and work with veterans to ensure they receive the maximum benefits available.
The Basics Of The C&P
After you file a claim for veterans disability benefits, the VA may – but won’t necessarily – ask you to complete a C&P exam. This is to give the VA more information to evaluate your claim. Veterans who already have enough medical evidence in their files won’t be asked to take the exam.
The veteran is not responsible for scheduling the C&P. Instead, the VA will call or mail a notice to the veteran to provide the date and time for the exam. Make sure the VA has your most up-to-date contact information (address, phone number, and email address).
After I Receive The Notice, What Should I Do?
Call to confirm your appointment. If you receive a letter, a phone number will be provided. Take note of the date, time, and location of the exam so you don’t miss it. You can also specify the gender of your VA examiner if:
- You’re having a reproductive health, breast, rectal, or mental health exam
- Your claim is related to a mental or physical health condition resulting from Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
How Can I Prepare For My Exam?
Make a list of all your symptoms, including how severe and frequent they are. Also, write down how these symptoms affect your daily activities. But be specific. For instance, you may want to explain that your condition makes it difficult to walk or drive, as well as any impact your condition has on your ability to work and function at home, and that you need someone to assist with those and other basic tasks if that is the case.
If you have a spouse or other person who has observed your condition and how it affects you, consider bringing this person with you to the exam. The provider may benefit from speaking with this person to learn more about your disability.
What If I Have Updated Medical Records?
Updated medical records should be submitted to the VA before your exam. There are several ways to do so. However, the VA provider who examines you cannot do it for you. Ask a knowledgeable attorney about updating your records.
What Happens During The Exam?
Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to your exam. A VA provider or contractor will conduct the examination, but it’s not like a normal medical exam or visit to the VA. The examiner may do all of the following:
- Review your claim file
- Ask you questions based on the medical records in your file
- Ask you questions from the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ), a form used to ensure the veteran’s condition is properly rated
- Perform a physical exam
- Ask you to get other tests such as X-rays or blood work, if necessary
You should act as you do any other day of the week and show up looking as you normally do. The VA needs to understand how your disability affects you, so presenting yourself in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily be won’t help your claim.
What Should I Tell The Examiner?
The VA examiner’s job is only to conduct the C&P examination, not to decide your claim. The examiner cannot answer questions about the claims process. Nevertheless, you can ask the examiner about what is happening during the C&P.
It is important that you do not minimize or downplay your symptoms. In other words, be honest about your condition. Remember, your VA examiner has likely conducted numerous examinations and is aware of when a claimant is attempting to mislead or be dishonest about their disability. Don’t argue with the examiner or discuss your legal issues or problems with the VA; stay focused on the exam itself.
How Long Do Exams Last?
An exam can take as little as 15 minutes or up to an hour or more. The length of your exam won’t affect the outcome of it. The examiner will review your medical records either before or after the exam, so you can rest assured your medical evidence will be carefully considered.
What If I Miss My Exam?
Missing your exam could hurt your disability claim. The VA, for example, may decide your claim based on the evidence in your file. If that evidence is insufficient to support your claim, your benefits may be denied. Call the number in your appointment letter if you know you’re going to miss your exam and need to reschedule. Or ask an attorney to help you reschedule. Regardless, reschedule your exam as soon as possible to avoid any issue or risk jeopardizing your claim.
What Happens After My Exam?
After the exam, the examiner will submit a written report about it to the VA. It will be added to your claim file. The VA will then review all evidence in your file, assign a disability rating, and send you a decision letter. The complexity of your claim and disability will affect how long this takes but expect a few weeks at least.
Will I Have To Complete Another Exam?
If you are claiming more than one disability, you may need to complete more than one C&P exam. You may also need to complete another one if you appeal your claim decision.
Can An Attorney Help Me?
A veterans disability attorney can explain the C&P exam, disability benefits, appeals, and much more. You will want to be prepared for the examinations, including what questions you are likely to be asked and tips for your answers based on your unique case. Are you a veteran in need of compensation? Was your claim denied, or did you receive a disability rating you don’t agree with? Disability Law Group is here to serve you. Reach out to us today for your free consultation.