What Paperwork Do I Require for My C&P Exam?
VA Disability claims can involve a lot of paperwork, and you may wonder what paperwork is required for a C&P.
Here is a brief overview.
What is a C&P exam and why is it important?
To recap, a Compensation & Pension Exam (usually referred to as a “C&P Exam”) is a procedure where the VA requests a medical or psychological examination by someone other than your usual physician (either a VA doctor or one designated by the VA) as part of the process of evaluation a VA disability claim.
The C&P exam is also sometimes requested as an update to existing disability benefits to see if the underlying condition remains and whether it has improved or worsened. The C&P examiner will review the veteran’s medical records, conduct an in-person examination (and perhaps some diagnostic tests), and then create a C&P exam report to submit to the VA.
The VA does not always request a C&P exam, but the veteran must attend when it is. Failure to follow a scheduled C&P exam can result in denial of a disability claim on that ground alone.
What paperwork do I require for my C&P exam?
If the VA requests a C&P exam, you will receive a letter scheduling the C&P exam.
This letter will come to you from the VA-selected provider. This letter will outline the date, time, and location of the scheduled C&P exam. There are no specific paperwork requirements for your attendance at the C&P exam. However, if you receive a notice for a C&P exam, it’s an excellent opportunity to review what medical records you have already provided to the VA. If you have any new information since that time, you’ll want to submit those updated records to the VA sufficiently before the C&P exam so that the examiner can review the documents as part of their process.
You’ll want the examiner to have a complete and up-to-date view of your medical or psychological history so they can make the most of the C&P exam to answer any lingering questions or fill in blanks of the necessary information.
Within a few weeks of the C&P exam, the report should have been prepared and submitted to the VA as part of your disability claim file. You can request a copy by calling the VA at 1-800-827-1000.
Other paperwork you might want to generate relating to the C&P exam includes your notes right after the C&P exam and possibly a request for a second C&P exam.
It is always a good idea to jot down your thoughts and observations after the C&P exam. Naturally, this is not a process you do every day, so you don’t know exactly what to expect, but contemporaneous notes are helpful. Jot down what the examiner asked, what type of tests were done, and generally what things were said. These notes may be beneficial later if you want to contest any results from the C&P exam.
If you have an immediate concern about the C&P exam, it is possible to request a second C&P exam, but it may make the most sense to seek out an independent medical examiner. This isn’t shopping around for a favorable opinion but making sure you have been thoroughly evaluated and assessed by a doctor specializing in your disability. A more thorough examination and documentation may result in a more accurate disability claim decision or provide the grounds for a successful appeal later.
Where and how to book your C&P exam?
You may be thinking, “where and how do I book my C&P exam?”
A veteran filing an initial or updated claim for disability benefits never books their C&P exam. If the VA deems it necessary, the VA will send out a letter scheduling a C&P exam. Otherwise, you don’t need to worry about it. Some VA disability claims do not require a C&P exam at all.
What else should I know before my C&P exam?
There are a few things you should keep in mind before you have a C&P exam. First, make sure you have the correct date and time, know where you need to go, and plan to be there a little early. Reducing those stresses will make the day of the exam go easier.
Second, review your history and jot down some notes about your condition, your symptoms, and how these are affecting your day-to-day life. You are not a doctor, so you don’t need to have a physician’s insight into your medical condition, but you are the one who lives with your injury or disability every day, and only you can describe your experience. Don’t exaggerate or falsify things, but be prepared to let down your usual strong demeanor. For example, if you are having flashbacks and find yourself drinking to excess to avoid your thoughts, that is a part of a PTSD claim. If you have insomnia, a shortened temper with your family, and can’t do your usual work or leisure activities as you used to, these are important to mention. Bring your notes to your C&P exam, so you don’t forget things.
Third, consider bringing your spouse or other close friend or family member. The decision on whether or not to allow them in the exam room with you is up to the C&P examiner, but it might be helpful for a couple of reasons. Sometimes a spouse, in particular, is more acutely aware of some symptoms than the veteran is, and it can also help you remember some things. The C&P examiner will be speaking primarily to you – don’t think your spouse can speak for you – but it might be helpful even to have moral support.
Fourth, remember that although a C&P exam is critically important to processing a VA disability claim (failure to appear for a scheduled C&P exam may result in denial of the claim), there is no need to stress over it. This is part of the fact-finding process for the VA. If you are being truthful in the information you provide all along the way and then fill in some blanks with the C&P exam, the VA is in a much better position to fairly assess the existence of a service-connected disability and rate its severity.
Fifth, there is always an appeal process even if something goes sideways during a C&P exam or if the resulting report contains something not valuable for your disability claim. Supplemental examinations can be held by an independent doctor or another C&P set by the VA. The VA does its best to make a determination on VA disability benefits based upon a fully developed medical record.
Is it possible to appeal the results of a C&P exam?
You cannot directly appeal the “results” (or the report) of a C&P exam. However, you can appeal the results in the Rating Decision that is based upon any C&P exam report and the rest of the contents of your disability file. This appeal must be filed within one year of the date of the Notice of Decision letter.
The general reasons for appeal are either to contest an outright denial of disability claims or an underrated disability. The VA has two decisions to make that will be detailed in that Notice of Decision: (1) does the veteran have a service-connected disability; and, if so, (2) what is the severity of that disability (rated on a scale of 10-100% in increments of 10). Either portion of this may lead to various arguments for review on appeal. Maybe the VA agrees that the veteran has a disability but doesn’t have sufficient facts to link the disability to their military service. Perhaps the VA decided you only have a 10% disability, but you think it is more substantial.
Fortunately, you can hire a lawyer to assist you with an appeal of a disability decision, a lawyer that only gets paid after the appeal is completed. A law firm with extensive experience with VA disability claim appeals will be best because they understand the intricacies of what mistakes may have been made in the initial decision and what is needed to correct them.
Veterans Law Group has been helping veterans like you handle appeals of VA claim decisions for almost three decades. Our lawyers do nothing but VA disability claim appeals and have an enviable track record of getting excellent outcomes for our clients. Contact us for a free analysis of whether you may have grounds to appeal an adverse or insufficient decision on your disability claim.