Understanding VA Compensation and Pension Exams

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When you file a claim for service-connected disability compensation you may be asked to report for a compensation and pension exam, or C&P for short. This is a when an appointment is made for a doctor to evaluate the disabilities that you have filed a claim for. This should not alarm you due to the VA’s duty to assist. This is one way that the VA will gather the necessary evidence for your claim. If you have filed for multiple disabilities, keep in mind that you may have to report to multiple exams. Once you have been scheduled for this exam, it is important to know what happens during the exam and what you can do to help prepare yourself.

Usually, this exam will take place at a VA medical center or clinic. The doctor conducting the exam will often use a Disability Benefits Questionnaire, which is used to assess the disability that you are seeking compensation for.  Be prepared to answer questions explaining your symptoms and how it affects your daily life. It is very important to know that how you answer these questions will affect your claim accordingly. If the Examiner asks you “how are you feeling today?” your response should be honest. Do not be afraid to say how you actually feel, especially if you are in a lot of pain. If you tell them that you are “fine” the examiner will note just that. This could be detrimental to your claim in a negative way. In this case, honesty is the best policy.

After the exam, the doctor will write a report showing your medical history and ultimately express how severe your symptoms are in relation to your disability. Usually, the report will include the doctor’s medical opinion. The doctor will indicate whether your disability is related to your time in the military or not. Once the report is complete, it will be sent to the Regional Office where your claim is being processed. It is vital to keep in mind that the doctor who is examining you is not the same person deciding your claim. The Regional Office will decide your claim. This report will be taken into consideration as well as all evidence, medical and non-medical, in deciding your claim.

One of the most common questions regarding C&P exams is “what happens if I do not attend this exam?” Not attending your exam could negatively affect the outcome of your claim. As mentioned before, these exams are used to assess your disability and provide evidence to decide your claim. The VA will decide the claim based on the evidence that is provided and you may end up with a denied claim. On the other hand, there may be a time where you are unable to attend your exam. You can ask for the exam to be rescheduled; however, it needs to be within good reason. Nevertheless, you should make every effort to attend the exam.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Show up to your C&P exam!
  2. Be prepared to answer questions explaining your symptoms – even if they may be triggering.
  3. Be honest – do not downplay your symptoms.
  4. Do not exaggerate your symptoms. This can affect your claim in a negative way.
  5. Dress and act like you normally would. It may not be wise to dress as if you are going to a job interview.
  6. This is not a regular exam that you would have with your family doctor. You will not be given any treatment for your disability.

This is the time where you can physically show how your disability is affecting you. You can look at this as an opportunity. Go into your exam prepared and ready to go. This does not have to be a negative experience. You now have the knowledge and can better prepare yourself for your compensation and pension exam.

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