A Compensation and Pension exam (“C&P exam”) is an indispensable element of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ (“VA”) disability claims process, but many don’t realize exactly what it entails or why it matters. This blog describes the nuts and bolts of the C&P exam and why it is so important.
What is a C&P Exam
C&P exams are medical examinations used to determine the disability benefits or pension that a veteran will receive. When a veteran applies for disability benefits, for example, the VA will contact her or him after the disability claim has been filed and before a rating decision has been made to set up an exam. C&P exams may also be required when a veteran requests an increase is her or his disability benefits, or if re-evaluation of a disability is necessary to maintain benefits.
C&P exams are usually completed by a VA general physician, VA contractor, or VA partner. In some instances, such as where the disability relates to dental or psychiatric health, a second exam by a VA medical specialist is required. The purpose of the exam is to determine the severity of the claimed disability and whether the claimed disability is service connected, which the examiner will determine by reading the veteran’s claim file and asking any supplemental questions.
The examiner then creates a report which reflects her or his assessment of the disabilities and any relevant test results. This report is sent to the Regional Benefits Office (“RO”) which will use it to make a rating decision.
Why a C&P Exam is So Important
A favorable C&P exam is a vital element of any successful disability benefits application because the veteran’s disability rating outcome directly depends on the physician’s findings. VA physicians administering C&P exams are trained to use Disability Benefits Questionnaires (“DBQ”) and to perform tests which specifically address the issues the VA thinks are important to consider when making a rating decision. Therefore, even if a veteran’s personal physician has diagnosed a disability, the VA is unlikely to be convinced unless that same diagnosis is confirmed by a VA examiner. In short, failing to attend a C&P exam will most likely result in the denial of a claim.
Getting the Benefits You Are Entitled To
While obtaining a C&P exam is an essential step in successfully applying for disability benefits, many veterans find that they simply cannot get the benefits they deserve without the help of an experienced veterans’ attorney. Sadly, the VA is often mismanaged and, as a result, C&P exams may be poorly conducted and/or rating decisions incorrectly assigned.
If you need to file an appeal, our attorneys will present the right information for any future C&P exam and argue against any negative findings you received in the past. We will argue all the way to the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (“the Court” or “CAVC”) if that is what it take to get you the benefits you deserve. If you need help with your case, contact us today at (877) 629-1712.