One of the questions I get asked all the time is “Brian, do you have any VA C&P Exam tips?”
Yes, I do have 7 compensation and pension exam tips that I’m sharing with you in this post.
Hi Veterans, Brian Reese here, Air Force service disabled veteran, VA claim expert, and founder at VA Claims Insider and Military Disability Made Easy.
Veterans can use these C&P exam tips to help prepare for their VA comp and pen exams.
Top 7 C&P Exam Tips
- Tip #1. Read through your military, VA, and private medical records
- Tip #2. Review CFR, Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities
- Tip #3. Do not have your best day
- Tip #4. Be uncomfortably vulnerable
- Tip #5. Explain how your disabilities are limiting your work, life, and social functioning
- Tip #6. Know your true story cold as well as any in-service stressor events
- Tip #7. Give the C&P examiner a detailed picture of your life before, during, and after service
WATCH: 7 SECRET C&P Exam Tips Revealed and Explained!
You might also like my post called >> Top 5 C&P Exam Tips.
Okay, let’s explore in detail, the Top 7 Ways to Prepare for Your VA C&P Examination.
The VA Compensation and Pension exam, also known as a C&P exam is the #1 most important day in the entire VA claim process.
A veteran can do everything else right, but if you miss your VA C&P exam or worse, get a bad C&P exam, the results can literally make or break your final VA rating.
It’s shameful I know; however, the sad reality is that the VA Rater, also known as the RVSR will rely almost solely on the exam notes from the C&P examiner.
Don’t worry though, even if you have a terrible C and P exam, there is still hope and you can fight it!
How to Prepare for Your Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam
C&P Exam Tip #1: Read through your military, VA, and private medical records
Read through your medical records in detail prior to your C&P exam.
There is no substitute for knowing what’s in your service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
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 between your current disability and your active duty military service? Be prepared to talk about this at your C&P exam.
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?
C&P Tips #2: Review eCFR, Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities
38 CFR Part 4 Schedule for Rating Disabilities is the law that governs all VA disability claims.
Did you know the complete VA disability claims list contains more than 830 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 claim for PTSD, you’ll want to review the PTSD rating scale to determine your approximate VA rating for PTSD based upon your severity of symptoms.
C and P Exam Tip #3: 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.
Remember that the VA C&P exam is a snapshot in time of how you’re doing on ONE particular day.
If you’re having a good day, but this is unusual for you, make sure to explain to the comp and pen examiner how you normally are on your worst days.
For example, if your back pain is so severe that you often can’t get out of bed in the morning without help or you wear a back brace, make sure to tell the C&P examiner in detail.
Compensation and Pension Exam Tip #4: Be UNCOMFORTABLY VULNERABLE
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 anxiety and insomnia, you must tell the examiner because you’re helping explain the severity of your mental health symptoms.
C&P Exam Strategy #5: Explain “HOW” your disabilities are limiting your work, life, and social functioning
VA claims for all mental health conditions come down to your current level of “Occupational and Social Impairment.”
How is your severe PTSD 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 is so severe that I had an angry outburst at my boss last week and got written up for it.”
Another example is, “My plantar fasciitis is causing me so much heal pain that I can longer run, or workout, and I’ve gained 20 pounds in the past 3 months. In fact, it’s difficult to walk without my brace.”
C&P Exam Prep #6: Know your true story cold as well as any in-service stressor events
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 and 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.
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 sexually assaulted by my boss on a Navy ship in October 1987. I never told anyone about this incident as I feared for my life and career.”
C and P Exam Hack #7: Give the C&P examiner a detailed picture of your life before, during, and after service
You must be prepared to talk about your life 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 to a combat zone or other austere location?
What happened after you left active duty service?
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 and 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.
VA C&P Exam – Frequently Asked Questions
What is a VA C&P Exam?
After you file a VA disability claim, chances are, you’ll be contacted and scheduled for one or more C&P exams by one of the following:
1. VA doctor who works for the VA
2. Contracted doctor who works for a private contracted company
Why do I need a C and P Exam?
The C&P exam helps the VA Rater (RVSR) rate your disability claim.
Your final VA rating will be based on the severity of your symptoms and will affect how much disability compensation you receive.
There are 5 primary reasons why veterans get a VA c and p exam:
1. Independent medical evaluation by a doctor.
2. Make or confirm a medical diagnosis of a disability.
3. Determine the approximate timeframe of when the veteran’s symptoms began.
4. Determine how bad the veteran’s symptoms of the disability are on C&P exam day.
5. Try to decipher if the veteran is telling the truth.
Does everyone who files a VA claim need to have a VA disability claim exam?
No, not all veterans need a VA C&P exam.
If you have enough medical evidence in your file to support your claim, the VA might not need to schedule a C&P exam.
This is why we talk a lot about the importance of medical evidence in your VA disability claims strategy!
What is the VA wait time after C&P exam?
Depending on the VA Regional Office, veterans can normally expect a rating decision within 2-3 weeks after their last VA C&P exam.
The total VA claim process, which consists of 8-steps, usually takes about 3 months or 90 days from start to finish.
However, your claim may take longer depending upon the complexity of your disabilities and the among of information the VA Rater needs to review.
If you want your VA claim to move faster, here’s a tip: STOP uploading new information AFTER you’ve already submitted your claim.
If you keep uploading more information after claim submission, the VSR and RVSR stop and review the new information, which can delay your VA rating decision.
How do I get a copy C&P exam results?
If your VA comp and pen exam was conducted by a VA doctor at a VA facility, your exam results will flow into your Blue Button Report on MyHealtheVet within 24-48 hours of the exam.
Veterans can also make a written request to the VA Regional Office (VARO) in your state to request a complete copy of your outpatient medical records, to include C&P exam results.
If your VA C&P exam was conducted by a private medical provider at a private facility, your exam results will NOT flow into your VA medical records.
The fastest way to get a copy of your C and P exam results from a private provider is to ask your VSO to login into the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) and print out a copy for you.
If you don’t have a VSO or designated representative, you can file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the VA Regional Office in your state and ask for a complete copy of your VA Claims File, also known as your VA C-File.
The downside is a FOIA request usually takes some time to process.
You can also call the VA hotline at 1-800-827-1000 and speak to a representative.
We also recommend calling the White House VA Hotline to request a complete copy of your C&P exam results.
How will I know if I got a favorable C&P exam?
A favorable C&P exam will contain a “Nexus” statement, which at a minimum should state, “at least as likely as not” due to a veteran’s military service or another service-connected disability for secondary service connection.
If you see any statement such as “less likely” or “not likely” this is a signal that you had an unfavorable VA exam and could be denied VA disability benefits.
What should I do if I had a bad C&P exam?
1. Immediately call 1-800-827-1000, speak to a representative from the VA, complain, and ask him/her to make a note in your record.
2. Write a Memorandum of Fecord (MFR) and upload it to eBenefits or VA.gov immediately after your bad c and p exam (Stick to the facts: Who, what, when, where, why, how)
3. Consider writing your State Congressman or Senator
To see a more in-depth look at this topic, please watch my full YouTube video below called “Bad C&P Exam Now What?”
Let’s focus on the information you will need to include when composing the Memorandum of Record.
It needs to be very direct and to the point.
Start with your information; include your condition you are being evaluated for.
Include the time, date and name of the C&P examiner who conducted the exam.
In the body of the text, you will want to keep it straight, and to the point, you can present it in a bulleted list format to keep the information organized.
List all the areas you feel could have been handled differently and better.
This can include; demeanor, facial expressions, dismissiveness, topics that were not pertaining to your condition, length of time, the preparedness of the examiner, reviewing of the documents you have provided for review, etc.
Once again, be specific and to the point.
Close the report with a request, be polite and accurate as to what you would like the result to be.
You can request a new exam; you can request the private DBQ and/or Nexus be used in place of the exam for the VA Rater to consider instead or ask that this exam be thrown out.
Remember it is our duty to fight back if we have a bad C&P examiner, and not just for yourself, but for the other Veterans who may see this individual.
Do you have any PTSD C&P exam tips?
Yes! Please see my post called 5 Tips to Prepare for Your C&P Exam for PTSD.
You can also watch this video C&P Exam for PTSD SECRETS *LIVE* with Brian Reese VA Claims Insider:
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About the Author
Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).
Brian’s frustration with the VA claim 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, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start.
As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.
He 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 Afghanistan in 2011 supporting 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).