How to Prepare for a C&P Exam? Veterans Take Note!
When you file a claim for Veterans’ disability compensation, the next step is usually for the VA to schedule one or more Compensation and Pension exams, a.k.a. “C&P exams” or “claims exams.” This is part of the VA’s information gathering phase.
These exams carry a lot of weight in VA’s assessment of your service-connected disability and rating assignment. Should the VA require one or more C&P exams for your claim, you must arrive prepared!
VA C&P Exam Preparation Tips
The following are recommendations you should act on ahead of time as well as during the claims exam.
1) Fortify Your Claim Application with “Disability Benefits Questionnaires” Answered by Your Doctor
An important part of your claim’s medical evidence is the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). The VA uses these questionnaires in the disability evaluation process. The questionnaires are intended to help VA rating specialists properly evaluate and rate a claimed disability.
First, instead of using VA’s chosen medical examiner, all veterans have the option to complete a private medical exam with their personal physician. This gives you much more control over your claim. DBQs prepared and submitted by your own doctor will likely be more thorough, accurate and fair because he or she should be very familiar with your condition and medical history.
Second, it is most beneficial to submit all of your medical evidence (including appropriate DBQs) to the VA with your initial claim application, or at least prior to the VA C&P exam. This gives the C&P examiner a chance to review your entire claims file and get a comprehensive description of your condition.
Bottom Line: in some cases, the VA may accept the results of your personal doctor’s examination and a C&P exam may not be needed. Even if your CP exam is still necessary, the reviewing VA examiner will use DBQs answered by your private physicians to help them make their evaluation. Otherwise, if no DBQ or medical evaluation is submitted from your personal doctor, a VA clinician would fill out the appropriate information.
DBQs are available on the VA website for download.
There are about 70 DBQ forms separated into lists of Form Names or lists of Symptoms, with each list separated into these medical categories:
- Dental and Oral
- Ear, Nose and Throat
- Hematologic and Lymphatic
- Infectious Diseases
- General Surgery
Download the relevant form for your condition(s) and have your own health care provider fill them out. Submit the form to the VA and keep a copy for your records.
2) Attend Your Exam! (Don’t Blow It Off, and Arrive Early)
The health care examiner will notify you about the time and place of your exam, via letter or phone. Follow up on any correspondence with a phone call to confirm the time and place.
Plan to get there ahead of schedule. If you are late to the appointment, it may not be possible to fit your visit in.
If you cannot make the appointment, reschedule immediately to avoid serious delay or possible denial of benefits. By missing your scheduled appointment, your claim may be delayed, or rated “as-is” with only the information in your file as a basis for the RO to make a decision.
(Note: if the examining VA medical center or partnering facility is some distance away, you are allowed travel reimbursement. Mileage is calculated “from your door to exam facility.”)
3) Verify Which Disabling Condition Is Being Evaluated
If you are claiming multiple disabling conditions, you may be asked to attend more than one C&P exam. However, an upcoming exam notice from the VA may not explain which condition is to be evaluated. So it’s important to call the VA and ask. By knowing ahead of time what your exam is about, you can prepare to talk about specific impairments and how they affect you every day.
4) Bring Your Spouse, a Family Member or Caregiver with You
You may ask if your spouse, a family member other person close to you, can be with you during the C&P exam. This form of support can be quite valuable, but the medical examiner must approve it. Often when an examiner hears from someone very close to the veteran, they are able to gain a better perspective of the disability in question. A close third party is often able to share further insight regarding your condition—such as testimony of how they know the condition is due to military service, or additional statements explaining their observations on how your condition has worsened over time, or responded to treatment.
5) Keep a Daily Journal of your Life as a Disabled Vet
The C&P medical examiner can only observe how your symptoms are for the short time of the exam, and on just that day. This is one shortcoming of the C&P exams, because the doctor may not witness the complete scope of your disability.
A good way prepare for this is to keep a journal, or a notebook, to share with your examiner. This should be a summary in your words of your conditions and imitations:
- List all symptoms related to your claimed disability;
- Describe how frequently you suffer from those symptoms and how each affects your daily life;
- Your family or spouse can also record what they observe of you.
For example, you might include information about flare-ups, exact locations and descriptions of pain, bouts of depression, or problems with sleeping. Update it daily with facts about your symptoms and challenges as they occur.
6) Prepare for Questions the C&P Medical Examiner Will Ask You
Expect the examining health care provider to go over your claim file with you, including your medical records.
Keep a copy of the DBQ form that your personal doctor submitted in your claim application. Use it as a guide to help you prepare for the questions the examiner will ask regarding that disability.
The objective is to make sure the examiner does grasp the entire scope of your condition, and that you do not forget to mention an important symptom or fact. So between your DBQ, daily journal, and what you tell them, they will have before them a good picture of your life as a disabled veteran.
The VA medical examiner will give the exam results to the VA claims processors. The VA then decides your claim based on the C&P exam results, plus your other medical and military records.
An Accredited VA Claims Attorney Can Help
The C&P exam can become the most important part of your claim file. The VA rating specialist, when deciding your case, will give prominence to the findings in the exams.
But even with what outwardly should be a straightforward claim, disabled veterans still face unfavorable exam results, unsatisfactory ratings, or outright claim denials.
A seasoned veteran’s attorney can help you navigate each C&P exam in the best light. Call us today at 866-365-7879 to ask about any aspect of your VA compensation claim, and learn how we can help you get the benefits you deserve.