A C&P exam is a medical exam ordered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assess a veteran’s health condition that caused him to apply for VA disability benefits. This is a routine request that allows the VA to evaluate your symptoms and then write a report to send back to the VA Regional Office where you submitted your application request for benefits.

If you’re applying for benefits because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to understand how the C&P exam will be performed and what the VA looks for during the evaluation.

What Kind of Tests Are Used at the C&P Exam for PTSD?

The VA uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) to determine if your PTSD diagnosis is valid. Your diagnosis must satisfy all of the criteria listed for PTSD in this manual. If the VA feels your PTSD doesn't meet the diagnosis, your claim will be denied.

Thus, it’s critical to document all of your symptoms and be able to discuss how this mental condition negatively affects your life. Either a VA or third-party medical professional will conduct the exam, and they'll look at your entire claims file to help evaluate the severity of your condition and find evidence that proves your PTSD.

Receiving a C&P exam for PTSDThe key point to remember about this exam is that the examiner wants to know how PTSD impacts your daily life and normal routine. Even if you feel a small detail is insignificant, it could be important to the success of the claim. So make sure to discuss all aspects of your life with the examiner.

Additionally, the VA requires that C&P examiners use the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). This form is written with standardized language that helps the VA streamline the claims process and ensure that the medical record for you is complete enough to make a determination about the claim. The VA uses over 70 DBQs to assess the majority of disabilities, and there's one for PTSD. Reviewing this DBQ can give you an idea of what the examiner looks for when making a decision about your condition.

It’s important to note that if you're undergoing an initial exam for PTSD, a DBQ won’t be used.

Symptoms to Discuss

You may wonder which symptoms to focus on when discussing your condition with the examiner. You’re likely to want to talk about the nightmares you experience, because they can often be one of the most intense and severe PTSD symptoms you have. However, keep in mind that the VA rating formula only gives nightmares a 30 percent rating. Thus, you need to consider other symptoms to provide more supportive proof of your condition.

For example, you may want to talk about:

  • The anger you feel and/or if you have problems dealing with authority.
  • Any hostile or aggressive behaviors you exhibit since experiencing the traumatic event.
  • If you've noticed or been told your using emotional avoidance to try to control the trauma of the event.

These symptoms may not occur consistently, and they may not be as intense or stressful as nightmares, but they show the scope and depth and your condition, as well as the severity of your disability. Because you want to provide as much proof as possible of these symptoms, it’s helpful to bring written statements from friends or loved ones who have witnessed the symptoms.

Our Experienced VA Disability Lawyers Help Veterans Nationwide Get The Disability Benefits They Deserve

The experienced VA Disability Lawyers at Cuddigan Law recognizes and respects the sacrifices veterans made to protect this country. They understand that PTSD is a debilitating mental condition that can severely and negatively impact someone's life.

If you need help service-connecting your PTSD and want to file for disability benefits, contact Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on the best approach for receiving the maximum disability benefits. Call us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska