The good news is that not every veteran who files for disability benefits needs to have a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. When you initially submit your claim, you will need to include a current diagnosis from a competent medical expert, evidence of a service connection, and a “nexus statement” tying your disability to your service – usually a part of your medical expert’s report. Evidence may also include hospital records, test results, and buddy statements.
If the evidence is sufficient and strongly supports a service-related connection, you could receive a rating without a C&P exam. The exams cost the VA money. Therefore, efforts of cost containment are often a consideration for not requesting superfluous exams. However, if your claim is complex, or if there are questions in the mind of the claim reviewer based on your documentation, you may be required to get a C&P exam.
The VA will send your file to a VA doctor (or a local doctor with whom the VA partners) assigned to examine you, and you will receive a letter from the doctor regarding your C&P exam. Be sure to contact them and arrange a convenient time for the exam. If the VA requires a C&P exam and you don’t get one, your case will be denied. If you miss your exam, call the VA right away to inform them that you still intend to comply, then reschedule with the examiner as soon as possible.
Before the exam
Before the exam, obtain a copy of the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for your specific disability. Examiners follow the questions on the questionnaire, so be prepared to answer them in full. This is no time to be tough. As military personnel, we are trained to be strong and push through the pain to complete our mission. But now, your mission is to honestly express your pain and limitations to the doctor so that you will receive a fair and accurate assessment of your condition. You won’t be sounding like a wimp if you tell the truth about how your disability has impacted your life and your ability to work. Be honest and thorough.
If you have submitted or will submit additional evidence to the VA after your initial filing, bring a copy to the C&P examiner as well, so he or she is aware of the additional evidence.
During the exam
Your C&P examiner does not have the authority to accept or deny your claim, or to label you “disabled.” The examination is limited to the specific questions regarding your condition, so the appointment will not be like a regular doctor’s appointment.
While each exam is different depending on your disability, the examiner will review your claim file with you and ask you questions based on the medical records in your file. He or she will then perform an appropriate physical exam and possibly recommend additional tests.
This is where your preparation will come in. As stated, be thorough and honest. Don’t try to hide your disability or minimize its impact on your life. Answer the questions fully and honestly, and be respectful to the doctor to create a positive rapport.
After the exam
After completing the exam, the doctor will write an opinion stating his or her observations and state whether, in the examiner’s opinion, your disability can or cannot be linked to your military service. The examiner will state the conclusion regarding your disability’s connection to your military service as follows:
- Is due to (examiner is sure of the connection)
- Is more likely than not (examiner sees a strong connection)
- Is as likely as not (examiner feels a 50/50 chance there is a connection)
- Is not at least as likely as not (the examiner has some doubt about the connection but it is possible)
- Is not due to (the examiner does not believe there is any connection)
The complete report will be sent to the VA, which will complete the review of your file with this additional information. You can request a copy of the C&P examiner’s report from the VA. The VA will then make a decision and give you a disability rating based on all the information you have submitted along with the C&P exam results.
Sometimes a veteran may disagree with the examiner’s report. If you believe you have received a lower disability rating than you deserve, contact us at the Law Offices of Robert B. Goss, the Veterans’ Attorney. As veterans ourselves, we are 100% committed to helping our fellow veterans get the compensation they deserve for their service to our nation. Call today from anywhere in the world at 877-425-4VET (4838) for a free consultation.