Veterans who file a disability claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may be asked to participate in a compensation and pension exam, designed to help the VA accurately rate a particular disability or combination of disabilities.
It’s important to prepare carefully for the C&P examination so that you can provide VA medical experts with the full range of information they need to be able to appropriately rate your disability and determine your resulting monthly compensation amount.
5 Tips To Prepare for Your VA C&P Exam
- Review Your Medical Records
- Confirm Contact Information
- Be on Time
- Bring a Friend or Family Member
- Keep a Disability Journal and Bring It With You
If you have been asked to participate in a compensation and pension examination, it’s important to be prepared. This step in the VA disability claim review process helps VA reviewers assign an accurate rating to your medical condition. While the C&P exam is nothing to be worried or anxious about, it is worth taking very seriously. Use this opportunity to make sure that your medical examiner has a full and comprehensive understanding of your service-connected disability.
It’s common for the VA to ask veterans to participate in a C&P exam so the VA disability reviewers can better understand their medical conditions. It means the VA is seriously considering a claim and wants to assign the most accurate rating possible. This is your opportunity to ensure that VA reviewers have all the information they need to make an accurate determination about your VA disability rating, which directly influences how much monthly VA disability compensation you’ll be eligible to receive.
If the medical documentation, hospital reports, test results, and other medical evidence included with your claim is inconclusive or inconsistent, the VA may want you to have a C&P exam to provide more complete information. These examinations typically carry a lot of influence when it comes to assigning your final rating, so being prepared can help ensure that your medical examiner gets the most accurate understanding possible of your full medical condition.
5 Tips To Prepare for Your VA C&P Exam
There are several key steps you should take to prepare for your C&P exam. We’ve outlined several tips below.
The more specific and comprehensive your medical evidence, the easier it will be for VA reviewers to make an accurate assessment of your claim. Before your CP exam, make sure to review your medical records and ensure that you have submitted everything to the VA.
If you have new or additional medical documentation that you want to submit, make sure to send it directly to the VA rather than bringing it to your appointment. Your C&P examiner will not be able to submit outside medical documentation on your behalf. It is your responsibility to ensure the VA has all relevant medical evidence directly from you. The VA can also help track down important medical and military documents upon request.
The VA will contact you directly at several points during the claim review process, including when to schedule your CP exam. To expedite the process, it’s smart to take the time to confirm that the VA has the most current and accurate contact information on file for you, including your address, home phone, and mobile phone numbers.
Once you have your C&P exam scheduled with the VA, make sure to confirm the time and the location so that you ensure you’re going to the right place on the date of your appointment. Give yourself plenty of driving time to account for heavy traffic, accidents, or other impediments you might encounter on your way. It’s a good idea to arrive 15 minutes early. Many times, the examiner will not complete your examination if you miss your appointment time.
Many veterans find it helpful to bring a supportive friend or family member with them to their CP exam. VA examiners will allow this, but you may need to get permission in advance. In some cases, a medical professional may appreciate the added perspective of hearing from a spouse, family member, or close friend about how your disability affects your quality of life. Outside observers can often provide details and observations you wouldn’t necessarily report – or even notice – yourself.
Keep in mind that your medical examination will likely be short, and it will give your examiner a minute snapshot of how your disability affects your day-to-day life. Being able to provide notes about your disability experience can help provide additional detail and may even help you answer some of the examiner’s questions.
Within your journal, catalog all symptoms of the disability for which you have filed a claim, along with how often and how severely they appear. You can also invite other members of your household to keep similar journals with their own observations about how your disability affects your life.
You may still have questions about what to expect from your CP examination – we’ve collected some of the most common C&P exam questions and their answers for you below.
You don’t have to initiate your CP examination. The VA will contact you to set up your appointment. The medical team at your local VA medical center or a local physician’s office partners with the VA will contact you in one of two ways. They will either send a letter by mail with the date and time of your scheduled examination or they will call you to find a time that works with your schedule.
To make the process easier, confirm that the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest you both have your up-to-date contact information to make sure you get your exam notice in time.
If an appointment is scheduled on your behalf and you can’t make it, let the VA know as soon as possible. You can likely reschedule your appointment, but it just may push back your exam date and potentially delay a decision about your VA claim.
To reschedule your appointment, call 800-827-1000 or visit your nearest VA regional office and speak with a representative about your scheduling conflict. Please note that any attempt to reschedule should be made at least 48 hours in advance of your scheduled time.
It’s a good idea to bring a friend or family member, and your disability journal that documents your symptoms. Ideally, you shouldn’t need to bring anything else with you to your C&P examination. If you have additional or new medical evidence or documentation, submit those directly to the VA as an addition to your VA claim before your medical appointment.
It’s important to remember that the medical professional who completes your C&P exam cannot submit additional medical documentation on your behalf. The physician will only be able to submit the documentation of your actual exam.
Your exam will be conducted either by a VA-employed physician or a private physician contracted with the VA. In some cases, you may request for your own physician to complete the exam and submit the appropriate paperwork to the VA.
Disabled veterans have the right to choose the sex of the medical provider in cases of gynecological, breast, anal/rectal, and mental health exams. This request should be made during the scheduling process. For any VA claim related to a mental or physical health condition resulting from Military Sexual Trauma, the law permits that a veteran can choose the sex of the C&P examiner.
What happens during your exam will depend largely on your medical condition and the information the VA needs to make a decision regarding your VA claim. During a C&P exam, any of the following could happen:
First, the physician will likely review your claim file with you and may ask you questions based on the medical records presented as part of your VA claim. This line of questioning may include questions from the Disability Benefits Questionnaire for each service-connected condition you’re claiming. Answer these questions as honestly and accurately as possible – try not to exaggerate your symptoms or pain, but don’t downplay them either. You want the examiner to walk away with the clearest determination possible about your medical condition.
The physician may carry out a basic physical exam, and in some cases, you may be asked to get additional tests, including X-rays or blood work.
Feel free to ask the examiner any questions you have throughout the exam, though it’s important to remember that the physician won’t be able to give you any information about the VA disability claims process or the status of your own VA claim. The physician’s role is simply to present medical documentation, not to make a recommendation or decision about your case.
Every C&P exam is unique. Typically, the examiner spends time before your appointment to review your medical records and will likely review them again in detail after your appointment. On average, you can expect the exam to last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
If you are not able to make your appointment, contact the VA immediately and let them know why you missed your appointment time. A VA representative can help you figure out what to do next. The VA will work with you to reschedule your exam if you had good cause to miss your appointment. Examples of good cause include an illness or the death of an immediate family member.
It is vitally important you attend your C&P exam. Missing an appointment, especially without good cause, can result in the VA either delaying its decision about your VA claim or deciding your claim based solely on the evidence you have already submitted. This can negatively impact your VA rating and disability benefits.
Once your exam is complete, the VA will assign your VA claim a disability rating. You will receive a letter that explains your VA rating and how it determines your VA disability compensation amount. You can generally expect to hear from the VA within three to four months, though complex cases may take additional time.
The C&P exam is an important part of the VA claim process. This is an opportunity for you to share with a medical professional the full scope of your service-connected disability and how it affects your quality of life.
With the right preparation, you can ensure that your examiner walks away with a firm understanding of your situation that helps lead to an accurate and appropriate VA rating. While preparing for your exam takes time and effort, it’s worth it once you are awarded the VA disability benefits you deserve.