In this post, I’ll be revealing and explaining some of my 10 Best VA Compensation and Pension Exam Tips.
Hi Veterans, Brian Reese here, Air Force service disabled veteran, VA disability expert, and founder and CEO at VA Claims Insider and CEO at Military Disability Made Easy.
First and foremost, you may be wondering: “Why did I get scheduled for a VA C&P Exam?” and “Do I need to attend?”
The primary purpose of a VA Compensation and Pension Exam is for an independent medical examiner to help make or assess a medical diagnosis, determine if there’s a logical link or connection to your military service (the “Nexus”), and to determine the severity of your symptoms.
According to the VA’s website, “Ultimately, your final VA rating will be based on how severe your disability is—and will affect how much disability compensation you’ll receive.”
Okay, let’s jump into this post in more detail!
Veterans can use my VA Compensation and Pension Exam Tips to help prepare for your C&P exams.
Top 10 VA Compensation and Pension Exam Tips
- Tip #1. You must be open, honest, and truthful
- Tip #2. Read through your military, VA, and any private medical records and reports
- Tip #3. Review CFR, Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities for each condition
- Tip #4. Do NOT have your best day
- Tip #5. Be “Uncomfortably Vulnerable” at your C&P exam
- Tip #6. Explain HOW your disabilities are limiting or affecting your work, life, and social functioning
- Tip #7. Know your true story as well as any in-service stressor events for the “Nexus”
- Tip #8. Give the C&P examiner a detailed image of before, during, and after active duty military service
- Tip #9. The C&P examiner is NOT your friend
- Tip #10. Keep a copy of your C&P exam appointment paperwork
VA C&P Exam Tip #1. You must be open, honest, and truthful
It is paramount throughout the VA claim process, and especially at your VA C&P exams, that you’re being open, honest, and truthful at all times.
Do NOT ever lie or stretch the truth at a C&P exam.
First, it’s against the law.
Second, you run the risk of having your C&P exam results tossed out.
Simply tell the examiner about the severity of your symptoms and how those symptoms are negatively affecting you.
VA Compensation and Pension Exam Tip #2. Read through your military, VA, and any private medical records and reports
Read through all your medical records in detail prior to your C&P exams.
There is no substitute for knowing what’s in your military medical records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
For example, do you have a medical diagnosis of the disability you’re claiming?
Do you have any subjective symptoms of your disability in your service treatment records?
Is there a logical link or connection “Nexus” between your current disability and your active duty military service?
When did your symptoms of the disability begin? Did they start on active duty or after you left the service?
Do you have current symptoms of the disability into the present day? If yes, how severe are those symptoms?
The answers to these questions are critical for the C&P examiner to conduct an adequate examination.
C&P Exam Tip #3. Review CFR, Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities for each condition
38 CFR Part 4 Schedule for Rating Disabilities is the federal law that governs all VA disability conditions and ratings.
Did you know the complete VA disability claims list contains 833 ratable disabilities under the law?
Veterans should review the general schedule prior to their C&P exam, which will help you understand how your current symptoms and keywords tie to a specific rating under the law.
For example, if you’re filing a VA disability claim for migraines, you’ll want to review the VA rating for migraines scale to determine your approximate rating level based upon your severity of symptoms.
VA Comp and Pen Exam Tip #4. Do NOT have your best day
This does NOT mean you should lie or stretch the truth.
This means that you need to tell the C&P examiner how you are on your very worst days.
Many veterans’ symptoms ebb and flow over time, and VA raters understand that, which is why the law describes “frequency, severity, and duration” of symptoms over time.
Remember that the VA C&P exam is a snapshot in time of how you’re doing on THAT day.
If you’re having a good day, but this is unusual for you, make sure to explain to the VA compensation and pension examiner how you normally are on your worst days.
For example, if your knee pain is so severe that you often can’t get out of bed in the morning without help or you wear a knee brace, make sure to tell the C&P examiner in detail.
VA C and P Exam Tip #5. Be “Uncomfortably Vulnerable” at your C&P exam
This means that if it’s uncomfortable for you to say to a C&P examiner who you just met; you need to say it!
For example, nobody wants to talk about their sexual dysfunction, and that’s exactly why you need to talk about it.
Tell the C&P examiner about the severity of your VA Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and how it’s hurting your relationship with your spouse.
If you’re abusing alcohol because of your severe Depression, you must tell the C&P examiner because it helps explain the severity of your mental health symptoms over time.
WATCH: VA C&P Exam: 10 Things to Know Before You Go (*NEW* TIPS!)
VA C&P Exam Tip #6. Explain HOW your disabilities are limiting or affecting your work, life, and social functioning
VA claims for mental health conditions come down to your current level of “Occupational and Social Impairment” as well as your symptoms.
Let’s say you already have a VA Disability Rating for PTSD at 30%, but it’s become worse and now you’re filing for an increase.
You must be prepared to explain the severity of your symptoms and HOW your PTSD is affecting your work, life, and social functioning.
VA claims for other conditions are all about (1) Limitation of Range of Motion and (2) Pain Level.
Make the examiner STOP as soon as you feel pain.
If you can’t bend over to touch your toes, don’t do it!
If you’re unable to move your knee to your chest, don’t let the examiner move you!
Be prepared to discuss how your disability is limiting and affecting your work, life, and social functioning.
For example, you can say things like, “My PTSD causes a lot of anger issues in my relationships and I often scream at my spouse over little things.”
Another example is, “My IBS issues cause me a ton of pain and it’s difficult for me to go out in public unless I always know where I can find a bathroom.”
Tip #7. Know your true story as well as any in-service stressor events for the “Nexus”
Know your true story cold and the potential in-service stressors (or other service-connected disability) that caused or made your disability worse and be prepared to discuss the incident in detail with the C&P examiner.
Most veterans don’t have specific incidents well documented, so make sure to discuss the approximate month and year of when your disability symptoms began, in as much detail as possible.
You may want to include a VA Buddy Letter to help explain and corroborate your story, which will help prove the Nexus requirement for service connection.
For example, “I was raped onboard a Navy ship in November 1989 by 3 shipmates. I never told anyone about this incident as I feared for my life and career. They made verbal threats to me constantly and it led to my PTSD.”
VA Compensation and Pension Exam Tip #8. Give the C&P examiner a detailed image of your life before, during, and after active duty military service
You must be prepared to talk about your work, life, and social functioning in detail.
Where did you grow up and what was your life like before joining the military?
What did you do on active duty and did you have any specific job requirements?
Did you deploy in support of a contingency operation?
Were there any stressful events or incidents that happened on active duty?
What did you do after you left active duty service?
What do you do now for work?
Make sure you’ve given the C&P examiner a detailed picture of your life and how the military either caused or made your disability condition worse.
If you can make the C&P examiner feel something, they’ll be able to relate to your story, which will help them make the proper analysis regarding the severity of your disability condition.
VA CP Exam Tip #9. The C&P examiner is NOT your friend
The C&P examiner is there to do a job, which is to conduct an adequate examination of you on that day and document the record in support of your VA disability claim.
You are also there to do a job, which is to be clear, concise, and factual.
Be polite and courteous but stay away from small talk.
It’s okay to ask the doctor if they’ve reviewed your records.
You can also bring statements, DBQs, Medical Nexus Letters with you, although you should ask the doctor if he/she would like them, if not, don’t force it.
C&P Exam Tip #10. Keep a copy of your C&P exam appointment paperwork!
It’s important for you to keep a copy of your C&P examination appointment paperwork, especially if you need to challenge a poor C&P exam later.
The paperwork should have the company name, date, time, and location of the exam as well as the doctor’s name and information.
About the Author
More than 300,000 military members and veterans come to the VA Claims Insider and Military Disability Made Easy websites each month to get educated on the VA and DoD disability process.
Learn more >> About VA Claims Insider HERE. <<
Brian’s frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim in less time.
He is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability, and has served more than 6,000,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
Veterans can download one of his #1 most downloaded FREE eBooks right here right now: “The Secret Guide to 833 Ratable VA Disabilities” by clicking HERE now.
Brian is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to southern Afghanistan in 2011 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).