The Compensation and Pension exam, more commonly known as the C&P exam, is the #1 most important day in your entire VA disability claims process, even if the VA has already rated you or denied you.
This is your opportunity to “prove” service-connection, meaning your disabilities were caused or made worse by your military service AND to “establish” the degree of severability of your disabilities.
The C&P exam, or series of exams, is simply a medical examination by a trained and licensed medical professional.
But, you need to be ready, and armed with the right information.
To do that, here is a list of my Top 10 Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam tips:
Tip #1: Two Goals of Every C&P Exam
• The first goal is to have the doctor confirm that your disabilities are directly related to your military service
– To prove the Nexus Pillar
– To establish the Impairment Pillar
• The second goal is to draw out the “evidentiary gap” in your claim through a C&P exam
– The evidentiary gap is the difference between what is “IN” your record, and how the VA “VIEWS” what is in the record
Tip #2: Answer only the questions the doctor asks
• Do NOT ramble on and tell your life story
• Be clear, concise, and get to-the-point
• Answer the question(s) you are asked, not the question(s) that you want to answered
Tip #3: Keep it simple and basic
• Answer a nexus question in under 30 seconds
– “I was diagnosed with [x, y, z] while active duty”
• When in doubt, “Sir/Ma’am, please read my claim file, it will explain the nexus in detail”
• The less you talk, the more direct and to the point you are, the more he/she must read your claim file
Tip #4: Be polite and courteous
• Goodness, please show some respect, and don’t be a jerk
• Your C&P examiner has a short time to talk to you…make it count!
• The C&P examiners are busy people, with TONS of other Veterans to see each day
Tip #5: Don’t Act like a “Professional Claimant”
• Talk like a human being – not like a lawyer or a VSO or me…haha!
• Tell the doctor about your symptoms, and your limitations
• For example, HOW does your disability currently affect your life?
Tip #6: Do NOT advocate to – or debate with – the C&P examiner
• C&P examiners are doctors, NOT lawyers
• Do NOT try to “prove” your claim to the examiner…they have already read your file
• Do NOT debate or argue
Tip #7: Know what is “At Issue” in your C&P Exam(s)
• (1) Diagnosis, (2) Nexus, (3) Severity
• Focus on “symptoms” and “limitations”
• Read the eCFR, Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities
Tip #8: If you talk about your condition, paint a clear and accurate picture
• The “Runners Cramp” effect…create a mental picture for the examiner:
• “I haven’t been able to run for years, because my knees are so bad. When I attempt to run, even just a jog, I cannot even take the first stride. I have tried, but I get nowhere. I end up not working out because I’m in so much pain, and I’ve gained 25 pounds in the past two years. I have this problem at home, at work, and at the gym – I cannot run or jog anymore because my knees are so painful, weak, and unstable.”
Tip #9: Get the doctor’s name and a copy of your C&P exam results
• The BVA has said that unless you challenge a doctor’s credentials, you are allowing the VA to presume that the doctor was competent and the exam was adequate
• So, get his/her name (ask for a business card)
• Request a copy of your C&P exam results prior to receiving your final rating from the VA
Tip #10: After the exam, write down your notes
• What questions were asked?
• What tests were performed?
• Was anything out of the ordinary?
• At any point, were you uncomfortable with the doctor?