Veterans Affairs announced that they would be resuming in-person compensation and pension (C&P) exams at several department medical centers in the country. The VA previously halted exams in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
For veterans with disabilities, C&P exams determine their qualification for disability compensation and the amount they will receive. The results will affect their applications for VA home loans, special monthly payments, and dependency and indemnity compensation.
Do I Have to Attend a C&P Exam?
The C&P exam is the first step when claiming disability compensation. After you file for disability compensation, the VA will inform you of the need to schedule an exam. The VA can schedule an exam for you, or you can reach out to the Compensation and Pension Department at your nearby VA.
All C&P exams are free because the VA believes that medical evidence is essential to a veteran’s disability case. Your claim will be denied if you don’t schedule an exam or fail to show up on a scheduled examination.
What Happens During a C&P Exam?
Before your scheduled exam, prepare a complete medical history of the conditions to be assessed during the exam. Bring all medical reports and tests as well. That will ensure that the examiner has all the information they need, preventing a second exam.
During the exam, the examiner will review your claim file and ask questions based on the Disability Benefits Questionnaire. They might perform a basic physical exam or recommend additional tests, like bloodwork and X-rays.
Depending on the information the examiner needs, the C&P exam could last ten minutes to an hour or more. The length depends on the conditions you’ve claimed for, so exams on complex injuries or illnesses could take longer.
After the exam, the examiner will send the results to the VA claims processor. They’ll determine your claim based on the C&P exam results and your medical and military records.
You’ll also receive a notice with your disability rating, which determines the compensation you’ll receive.
What if I Disagree with My C&P Results?
You can dispute your examiner’s report by doing the following steps:
- Gather statements
Gather written statements from your spouse, children, friends, and fellow veterans from your unit. The reports should contain your condition and how the disability affects your life.
- Request a hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
Attending a hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) allows you and your attorney to point out issues with your C&P exam. The judge may find problems with your exam results, like:
- The examiner might have been a nurse or a medical intern rather than a doctor.
- The medical literature the examiner cited on their findings might have been published more than ten years ago.
- The medical literature might not have a connection with your condition.
- The exam results did not match the information you gave to the examiner.
If the judge finds an issue with the exam results, they will send back your case to your regional office. The office will request another C&P exam, and you will repeat the process.
With this information in mind, you can be more prepared for the C&P exam that will affect your eligibility for compensation. Make sure you know what to do when the time comes.