Matthew Hill: Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton VA Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill, here with Carol Ponton, and today we want to talk to you about C&P exams from the VA and specifically when you have to go, when you don’t have to go, and what your rights are, before and after.
Carol Ponton: Look. If you’re ordered to a C&P exam, you have to go. The question is do you have to go where they want you to go? I have a lot of veterans who are getting notices to go somewhere that’s 100 miles from where they live. You do not have to do that. You need to call the VA. Now, unfortunately, with our clients we can’t talk to this section of the VA, because it’s actually the medical section, and they say there’s a Privacy Act, so they will only talk to the veteran. So, you call this number, the number where they have sent you the notice, and you tell them, “I can’t get there. That’s 100 miles away. I want it reset.” Sometimes they will tell you there’s no VA near you. You say, “Then give me a private doctor.” You have rights in this. You do not have to go all over the country.
Carol Ponton: Another problem that comes up is something veterans have gone to a VA center, I can name a number of them, and they have been treated very, very poorly. Maybe they have PTSD, but they know they cannot go back into that place without becoming very upset. They don’t have to go there. You need to call the VA and tell them, “I was mistreated. I will not go back to that VA. I would like to have VES, or QTC, or anybody else evaluate me.”
Matthew Hill: Let’s stop there for a second, because we talked about C&P exams. Let’s just make sure our audience knows the difference between the C&P done by the VA and then the outside exam.
Carol Ponton: Well, normally in the past almost all of the C&P exams were done at the VA, but because the VA has been so overwhelmed, they have two private companies. One is called QTC, and the other is called VES. If the VA is overwhelmed or they don’t have anyone in that area, they can use QTC or VES. Now, this can also be a problem. Sometimes my veterans are set with QTC or VES 100 miles away. Once again, you do not have to go, but you need to get on the phone-
Matthew Hill: But even if they’re close, don’t they have the right to not have to go to an outside exam?
Carol Ponton: That’s another thing. If you feel like, “I don’t trust these people. I want someone else,” you always have a right to go to the VA. So, you can call the VA and say, “I’ve been set with a non-VA entity. I don’t want that. I demand my right to go to a VA for evaluation.” What I’m trying to tell you is you have a lot of rights. I see veterans who have horrible back problems who are going 100, 200 miles to a VA exam. You don’t have to do that, but you need to tell them right away. If you don’t show up, they’re going to deny your case. They’re going to say you haven’t cooperated.
Matthew Hill: Failure to appear.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: Which for them is easy. It’s a stamped denial and say, “See you later.”
Carol Ponton: Right. But if you call up, and if the person you talk to isn’t helpful, ask to speak to a supervisor. If they don’t let you, hang up and call back again, and you’ll get somebody else.
Matthew Hill: Let’s say you do go to VA or QTC and you have an experience that you don’t like. The doctor comes in. They’re with you for two minutes, or they’re unkind. They won’t look at the paperwork you brought in, as far as your medical evidence you believe proves your case or helps you case, or they won’t talk to a witness you brought, like your spouse or a parent. What do you suggest you do there?
Carol Ponton: I always tell my clients they need to make a note of everything that happens, and send it to me, and I will put it on a 4138. That’s a form that the VA has. If you fill out a form 4138 and sign it, that’s sworn to. So, I tell them to put everything that happened. Sometimes I have veterans, it happened this week, came into the VA for an evaluation of his feet. He was standing there with his shoes on, and the person asked him a few questions and said, “Okay. You’re free to go.” He said, “Don’t you even want to look at my feet?” These are the kind of things that you need to report to the VA. “I was there for my hand. They didn’t even look at it,” or if you get the exam, and you should always ask for a copy of it, and they talk about how far you can bend, how much you could lift, and they never did that testing, that’s something they need to know. You should file with the VA that, “This didn’t happen, and I want another exam.”
Matthew Hill: Right. Pointing out what they failed to do is important, because later if you keep on appealing, unfortunately once you get to the Board of Veterans Appeals, the first time a lawyer or judge sees your case, and they understand the case law, and they understand that if an exam was inadequate, like Carol said, you had one that was two minutes and they make the paperwork look like it went on for 45 minutes, that becomes important to show the competency of that exam or whether the exam really should have value and merit in determining your case.
Carol Ponton: And sometimes it seems that they will talk to a veteran for two minutes and they have all this information. Sometimes they’re getting it right out of your form that you submitted to them. A lot of times before you go to these VA compensation and pension exams they will send you a form they ask you to complete. They get their information right off of there. So, please take the time to complete that accurately. Don’t skip over it and just say, “This isn’t worthwhile. I’ll tell them when I get there,” because then what they do is they put, “No answer. No answer. No response.”
Matthew Hill: Right. Well, thank you for listening today, and we hope this was helpful. Please keep tuned into this space to hear more information about C&P exams and other VA issues.