How to WIN your C&P exam

Perhaps, the most critical day in the entire claims process is your compensation and pension exam (C&P exam).


Because for most this is the only time the VA will have a chance to hear directly from YOU. I’ve seen many Vietnam Vets, and other combat Veterans denied or extremely underrated for their PTSD.

What do I need to know for my C&P exam?

I’ve also seen Vets with severe and frequent migraine headaches or suffering from other disabilities that should be rated much higher than they are, but for some reason, their ratings do not correspond to their symptoms.

In other words, they are way underrated. Do these examiners have no idea what these men and women have been through, or how they continue to suffer? Are they heartless, indifferent and hell-bent and denying and underrating claims?

In some cases, possibly. However, let’s be honest. Most Vets don’t know how to describe their symptoms or discuss the severity of their disabilities. Winning your C&P exam boils down to two things.

How to win your exam

First is knowing the CFR and knowing what you should rate for based on the severity of your symptoms.

Second, is knowing how to effectively get the C&P examiner to see things your way. The first part is the easiest. Read the CFR for your specific disabilities, and you will quickly be able to determine what rating you should qualify for. The second is a little trickier because this entails being effective at persuasion.

Remember, many of these C&P examiners have been at this for years. They’ve become numb to the grind and then you’re just another number. So let’s talk about some ways you can flip the script and get them paying attention to you.

The C&P exam

First of all, don’t do what most Vets do and show up to your C&P with a chip on your shoulder and take out all your frustrations with the VA and being underrated on the C&P examiner. This is one of the main reasons they become so calloused.

C&P examiners are beaten up over and over again by angry Vets who are frustrated with the horrible system and getting nowhere on their claims. Though it may be understandable, it is human nature to shut down too, and not want to, help anyone who is being rude, aggressive, or mean to you.

Secondly, don’t be overly dramatic or over the top with how you present yourself and your symptoms. Again, they do this every single day and are good at sniffing insincerity out and will call your bluff again and again.

If you want the C&P examiner to see you differently, be different. Know the CFR and know what you should be rated. Then go right ahead and address the elephant in the room. Speak directly to the person doing your C&P exam and let them know exactly how you feel. If you’re feeling anxious, if you’re feeling worried that they’re going to look at you like just another number, or worried they’re going to think your BSing your claim, tell them!

Break the Barrier

When you’re first starting, the exam is a great time to break the barrier. Try letting them know exactly how you feel and exactly what your concerns are. Let them know you know you’re underrated and why you’re underrated. Let them know you understand their job is to do due diligence and that you can appreciate that, but you want to be sure that you’re given a fair shot.

Let them know how important this is to you, but also don’t make this about the money. Your financial situation is not a reason for them to rate you higher. How your disability is impacting your ability to make money may be. However, your financial situation is not a part of the rating criteria for a disability, and they cannot rate you higher simply because you may be struggling financially.

Remember, most people, if given the opportunity to, want to help. It’s human nature. Help the C&P examiner help you by being well informed and respectful in the way you communicate. Turn them into your ally by getting them on your side.

Also, if that just isn’t working, if they’re only bound and determined to be rude or dismissive, don’t let them get to you. You stand resolute and don’t be shaken. When describing your symptoms, stick to describing them as outlined by the CFR.

When doing the range of motion tests, refuse to go any further than is comfortable for you. Don’t be bullied out of your claim for anyone and don’t give them the opportunity they’re looking for by bating you into blowing your claim.

Finally, one of the best things you can do to turn the C&P exam around is to keep in mind that this is not a problem that you have to do it, but an opportunity to make your case. Make the most of it. Really, it’s an excellent chance for you to make sure they got all the information right and have no reason to end up underrating you.

Eric Cooley is a Veteran Master Coach and a retired Air Force Veteran. You can contact him at [email protected]

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