You have applied for disability benefits from Veteran Affairs (VA) and have been asked to undergo one or more medical evaluations known as Compensation and Pension (C&P) Examinations. You need to have a favorable C&P exam because your disability rating is a direct result of the findings of the VA examiner.
The results of the C&P are so important. How can you put yourself in the best possible position to achieve a favorable outcome? Understanding what it is important for you to say and do, or not say and do, is imperative to your success.
As VA claim attorneys, we do not attend the C&P evaluations on behalf of our clients. To help you succeed in the VA exam, we can provide you with insight and awareness of what to expect on the exam. Here are some helpful tips on how to pass a VA C&P exam.
C&P Exam “Don’ts”
During your C&P exam, there are several things you should not do.
- Don’t Miss A Scheduled Exam
Delaying an already slow process only hurts your claim. You may not be able to take the exam again if you miss it without good reason. Despite your request for a reschedule, VA may decide to rate your claim. In this scenario, you may lose evidence that supports the severity or existence of a service-connected disability. VA is more likely to award a low rating or deny your claim without it.
- Don’t Take C&P Exams Lightly
C&P exams are not like your normal doctor’s visit where you show up unprepared. Your VA examiner will need the information needed to rate your disability if you provide it properly. A few simple steps can help you prepare for the appointment. You will be more confident due to being able to control your situation.
- Don’t Exaggerate Your Condition
In such cases, a VA examiner may suggest or accuse you of “malingering.” Malingering refers to fabricating or embellishing an impairment to get unfair disability benefits or higher disability ratings. To catch malingerers, VA examiners keep their eyes open. It is also possible that examiners misrepresented what you said in the exam, implying that you misled them through the C&P report. An accusation of malingering tarnishes a veteran’s reputation. There is a serious threat to starting over or receiving a favorable decision.
- Don’t Understate Your Symptoms
You can’t pretend to be fine if you’re hurting, anxious, exhausted, depressed, or anxious during the exam. Do not pretend to be fine if you are not. The key to being honest with your examiner is being honest with yourself.
- Don’t Take “No” For An Answer
Several VA disability benefits applications are denied when the C&P exam tilted the scales. If you received an unfavorable C&P exam result, you should request a second evaluation before VA finalizes. There are also ways to challenge the examination results. Some ways to attack the VA assessment include challenging the evaluator’s competency if they are not qualified to assess your specific condition, exposing errors in concluding, and disputing the evaluation with outside expert opinions. You may wish to seek legal counsel at this time, depending on your situation. Should your claim have already been denied or rated unsatisfactory, we encourage you to speak with an experienced veteran’s attorney.
C&P Exam “Dos”
You should take the following steps before and after the C&P Exam.
- Do Prepare For Each C&P Exam You Are Asked To Attend
As mentioned above, you need to consider some very basic factors that can greatly influence your results. For example, you should keep a daily journal of your disability, know which disability is being assessed, and attach the appropriate DBQ forms to your claim application.
- Do Be Upfront With Your Examiner
What should you say, and how should you act during the exam? Given the stakes, you must provide honest answers to questions from the examiner. You have limited time in a C&P exam, so your answers should be clear and concise. Planning will help these communications run smoothly.
- Do Talk With Your VA Examiner With Courtesy And Respect
Every day is likely packed with exams for the VA examiner. As part of the claims process, they are responsible for evaluating complex aspects of your physical and mental health as quickly as possible.
- Do Tell The Examiner About The Challenges You Face
You may not be able to interact with your family and friends, work a normal job, or do simple tasks of daily living because of your disability. If functional limitations are caused by pain, anxiety, or flare-up issues that are not measurable during the exam or that may not be visible-tell them.
- Do Bring Your Spouse Or Someone Close With You To The Appointment
You may try to tell the examiner about your condition, but your spouse, family members, or close friends are often better qualified to know what you truly go through in your daily life. An intimate view can help you gain a more refined understanding of your suffering, your long-term personality changes, or any other evidence that might otherwise get lost in the details. Documenting the information in your case file allows you to demonstrate that you are suffering. The C&P examiner must approve this person’s admission to the exam.
- Do Make Notes Of What Happened After The Exam
What conditions were the discussion and testing conducted? If they took measurements, how were they taken? Did the examiner ask questions and give answers? You should do this ASAP to allow you to note things while your memory is fresh. Refuting negative C&P results can be helpful.
- Do Get A Copy Of The C&P Exam Report
After the VA exam, you should request a copy of the report from the C&P examiner. Your civilian physician may rebut the unfavorable report or submit additional expert evidence, or you may have other options for refuting the unfavorable evidence yourself. In the absence of a copy of the report, you are pretty much in the dark.
Recognize that VA may ask for a medical examination if it wishes to disprove a claim. You should remain calm and speak with an accredited veteran’s attorney if this happens.
Applying for Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article about whether post-traumatic stress disorder qualifies for SSDI. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!