Compensation and Pension exams, referred to as C&P exams, are a large piece of the evidence the VA uses when making a determination of your claim. A C&P exam is scheduled by the VA and usually takes place at either the closest VA Hospital to you or through an outside contractor hired by the VA. A C&P exam is not always scheduled for every claim, however, if the VA feels that they need more evidence to determine if your condition is service related, if it needs to be diagnosed, or if it has become worse, they will schedule you for an exam. Even if you are scheduled for a C&P exam, it is still highly recommended that you submit your own medical records that will help support your claim.
Preparing for your C&P Exam
When you go in for your scheduled C&P exam, it is important to be honest and straightforward with your doctor. This will most likely be the doctor’s first and only impression of you before they write up the report to send to the VA, so it is vital that they fully understand how you are feeling. Take this time to make it known exactly what you are feeling and when, but do not exaggerate your symptoms. For example, if you have knee pain every time you stand or sit, tell that to the doctor. Or, if you go 3 to 4 days without showering because you are severely depressed and just can’t find the will to upkeep your hygiene, make sure the doctor knows.
You want to be sure to think about your general day-to-day life and how certain aspects of living are impacted because of your disabilities, not just how you are feeling on the day of the exam. If you use a cane, a brace, a service animal or any other device to support your disability, no matter how often, you want to be sure to bring these to your exam so that your doctor gets a feel for the necessary adjustments you have had to make.
Other Things to Consider
If there is one thing you do for the VA when it comes to your disability claim, let it be to attend your C&P exam when it is scheduled. If you fail to show up to your appointment without prior notice, the VA will use that as grounds to automatically deny your claim, no matter how strong your personal evidence is. The exam is mandatory. Think of it as a muster or a general quarters drill from when you were in the service; you must show up or there will be unfortunate consequences.
If you do not agree with the findings on your C&P exam or the medical opinion provided, you should bring the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) pertaining to your condition to your primary care doctor and have them fill it out based on their own review. This can help to provide the VA with additional medical evidence and opinion that they have to consider when making their determination on your claim. The VA DBQs can be found on the VA website; List by DBQ Form Name.
For more tips on attending your C&P exam, be sure to read Hill and Ponton’s blog titled Seven “Do’s and Don’ts” for a Compensation and Pension Exam.