A Compensation and Pension exam is an appointment that allows a VA doctor to evaluate your physical or psychological condition and determine the level of impairment caused by your disability. Unlike an appointment with your regular doctor, you won’t receive treatment or medication at a C and P exam. Instead the C and P doctor will likely examine you, ask you questions, order lab work, and do standard tests to assess your situation. Their report is used by the VA to help approve or deny a disability. It is important to keep in mind that the VA almost always gives more weight to the evaluation of a C and P examiner than your own doctor, so you should take the C and P exam very seriously. Here some advice to help guide you through the process.
Our first, and most important, recommendation is that you must show up. If you miss your initial C&P exam, it is likely that the VA will deny your claim. If you’re not able to be there for the exam at the scheduled time be sure to inform the VA as soon as possible and reschedule it—failure to reschedule will also likely result in a claim denial.
During your exam always be polite and cooperative.
Because most C and P examiners evaluate thousands of veterans every year, they probably will not have the patience, time, or resources to try to figure out how you really feel or to dig deep to figure out what your symptoms really are. So it is important that you be direct and honest about your disabilities and how they affect your life. Don’t exaggerate your impairments. Compensation and pension examiners will note any suspected exaggeration in their report. However, don’t minimize your symptoms, either. But, when explaining your symptoms be concise. Examiners are just like the rest of us and they are likely to zone out if your explanations ramble on. Also, the more you talk the greater the chances are that you will say something that VA will use as a reason to deny your claim.
If your disability claim is for a vision, hearing or dental impairment, the VA is required by law to have specialists in these medical fields to conduct your C and P exam. Additionally, exams for psychiatric conditions like depression, PTSD, and other mental disorders must be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional such as a board-certified psychiatrist, a doctorate-level psychologist or a psychiatry resident under close supervision. Mental health exams are a little bit different than physical exams. Where physical exams focus heavily on lab tests and checking your vital signs, a mental health exam will mostly involve the examiner asking you questions about your condition, how it affects your daily life, interaction with others and your ability to work. You may also be required to complete some written tests to evaluate your mental health.
We recommend that you take a witness—such as a spouse, adult child, or close friend—to the examination. This is especially helpful for mental health exams because they are stressful and it is easy to forget important details about the symptoms of your condition. If possible, have your witness join you in the examination room. However, this request is frequently denied by the VA. Even if this request is denied, you should continue with the exam. The VA will likely deny your claim if you don’t cooperate with the C and P examiner.
After your exam, request a copy of the exam report by sending a letter to your Regional Office. Then review the report to ensure it is an accurate accounting of your exam. If you believe the report does not completely and accurately represent what you reported to the examiner or if your C and P exam results are unfavorable, you or your accredited representative can rebut the report and can file private medical opinions to counter the C and P exam report.
At Cuddigan Law, we understand how critical it is for veterans to get the disability benefits they have rightfully earned. That’s why we provide a wealth of free information on our website to help veterans with their claims. And you can contact us for a free evaluation of your situation.