- Why do I need a C&P Exam?
- Be Careful What You Say at Your C&P Exam
- The C&P Exam Could be the Most Important Appointment of Your Application Process
- How To Avoid a C&P Exam
- C&P Exams to Appeal Your VA Disability Denial
- This is Not Your Annual VA Checkup
- Will I Need Another Veteran’s Health Exam?
- Is a VA C&P Exam for Depression Different?
- After your C&P Exam
- VA C&P Exam Tips and FAQ
Why do I need a C&P Exam?
If you are applying for VA Disability benefits or if you are appealing a claim that you were denied, you might be asked to have a C&P Exam. C&P stands for compensation and pension but it is sometimes called a “Compensation and Evaluation” exam. Either way, if the VA asks you do have one, you should do it. It gives the VA documentation from a doctor about your medical status and conditions that you are reporting to them as service related.
What happens at a C&P exam is different than a typical visit to the doctor. Yes, you’ll meet with a doctor that will go over whatever symptoms you want to discuss, but the goal isn’t to give you treatment. Don’t expect any advice on how to make anything better or to be prescribed anything for your symptoms. This visit is designed just to document whatever you claim to have wrong with you.
Be Careful What You Say at Your C&P Exam
When your buddies at the VFW or church say “How are you?” you might be in the habit of saying something like “Alright, I guess.”
DON’T SAY THAT DURING YOUR C&P EXAM!
Everything you say is available to be recorded in your claim. The whole point of you going to your C&P exam is to document that you are not alright! As you fill out your VA disability application, note the things that you are trying to get rated. You want to make sure you cover each one of those in your exam. Unlike a normal doctor’s visit that is done when they know what to do to heal you (theoretically) a C&P exam isn’t done until you have told them the laundry list of every ailment or injury you have that could be service-connected to your active duty. Don’t rely on your memory.
For the weeks (or months) before your exam, write down any complaints or symptoms you have. If you only have flare-ups of depression once a month, mention that to the doctor even if you are as happy as a lark the day of your exam. Write down details of your ailment so that you can give a complete description to the doctor, even if you aren’t showing symptoms the day of your exam.
The C&P Exam Could be the Most Important Appointment of Your Application Process
Since so much of the VA application process is done electronically, you don’t have to show up to many appointments or hearings as you apply or appeal your claim. But the C&P Exam needs to see you in person, like a normal doctor’s visit. Whatever you do, don’t skip this exam! Since the report from the doctor is directly tied to your claim, you have to have it to move your case along. If you refuse to go or miss your appointment, they can deny your claim altogether. If you do need to reschedule, call them way ahead of time and don’t reschedule it more than once.
The increased importance can make it nerve-racking to go, but don’t give up on this. Make a day of it. Take your spouse or friend with you and get there with plenty of time to spare. Plan on going out to eat afterward or doing something fun. Remember, the doctor isn’t going to tell you to watch your diet an exercise after this appointment. They are there to document your claims, so order dessert!
How To Avoid a C&P Exam
If the key word for a normal doctor’s appointment is healing, the key word for a CP exam is documentation. You want to get every one of your service-connected symptoms thoroughly documented. If you already have all of your disability claims documented by a doctor that is familiar with VA law and veterans disability, you may not be asked to have a CP exam.
For the sake of your fellow veterans and your family, you can’t tough this out and hold back any pain. A good C&P exam is one that completely documents all of your symptoms and shows their service-connected sources. You want a doctor that is familiar with the effects of Agent Orange, Burn Pits, PTSD, depression, and other common veterans disability claims.
C&P Exams to Appeal Your VA Disability Denial
If you have already applied for VA disability and been denied, you might still have a chance to appeal and get approved. Appeals can only be submitted if you have new evidence for your case. You can’t appeal a decision by submitting the same paperwork over and over again.
If you have some new injury or one that has become worse over time, you may request a new C&P exam to get additional evidence for your appeal. Talking to a different doctor or one of our doctors that specialize in VA disability claims might give you much better results than what you had with your first application. Expert opinions — especially experts that are familiar with VA disability law — are the game changer for many vets trying to get what they deserve from the VA.
This is Not Your Annual VA Checkup
While all of the documentation from your annual VA checkup can be used in your case, the C&P exam doesn’t count for that same examination. That means you shouldn’t expect any healthcare results from the compensation and pension examination. Remember why it is called that. This exam is also not part of your VA healthcare or a review of your past medical records. Your medical records may be used to ask you questions about certain conditions, but you should assume you are meeting with a blank slate.
Cover every single thing that you list on your disability rating and if the doctor rushes through something that you haven’t fully explained, ask them to slow down and hear you out. Just because you say “back pain” and the doctor can see “back pain” on your medical history, make sure you are clear about the details, frequency, and effects of that back pain. It might not say in your medical records that you cannot work because of back pain, so you have to say it.
Remember what disability rating you are applying for. VA Math doesn’t work like real-world math, so take a look at our VA Disability Calculator to make sure you are covering all of your bases. You might be surprised to see how low a lot of disability ratings can combine into. Go over your disability rating calculator results with your case manager or lawyer to make sure you know what to expect.
Will I Need Another Veteran’s Health Exam?
This all depends on what service-connected disabilities you are claiming. Here is a tip from the pros: claim as many as you can! You may need a follow-up va C&P exam for ptsd or to get on the Agent Orange Registry. The decision will come from the VA after they see the results of your cp exam and the recommendation of the doctor. C&P examinations are only re-done if you think you had an unfair meeting or if something else comes up that you forgot to tell them. (See above about taking notes all year to prepare for your C&P exam.)
You might feel like all of this rigmarole is designed to discourage you from getting your full VA benefits. Whether it is or not, you can partner with a firm like ours to walk you through the difficulties. We have helped thousands of vets work their way through the VBA reviews, do VA math, and then help get a corrected effective date once all is said and done. You don’t have to pay for any of our services until you get your check. All of our claim work by our on-staff doctors is at no charge until we win it together.
Is a VA C&P Exam for Depression Different?
If you are looking for a disability rating for depression, PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health condition, your C&P exam may take longer than a physical disability exam. You will be reviewed and examined by a doctor and may have to review events and episodes from your past. If it is easier to talk through these events alone, you can ask your spouse to wait outside for these segments.
Due to the VA guidelines, you can only be rated for one mental health condition. This requires a psychiatrist that is familiar with VA disability and veterans’ mental health. The doctor needs to see the complete picture of your life:
- How your condition affects your family life
- How your mental health affects your ability to work
- Does your mental health affect other health issues like insomnia or high blood pressure?
- Has alcohol or drug abuse developed from your mental conditions?
After your C&P Exam
You’ll feel the best after your C&P Exam if you know that you honestly covered all of your conditions that you are applying for. There is no need to exaggerate for better results, since that might make the doctor skeptical of your real conditions. It will take several weeks for the paperwork to make it through the system. If you work with a lawyer that has access to the Veterans Benefit Management System (VBMS) they can look and see if your C&P Exam has made it into your file.
It might take a few months, but stay in contact with your VA Disability Lawyer or your VSO during that time. There may be follow-up exams or questions that need to be answered. The doctors on our VA Disability Team might have clarifying questions for you while they prepare your case. Be patient and work with us as we try to get you the biggest disability compensation we can.
VA C&P Exam Tips and FAQ
Unlike a usual appointment with a doctor that is over as soon as they diagnose your symptoms, a C&P Exam takes as long as you take to explain all of your symptoms and conditions to the doctor.
You can, but don’t do it unless you absolutely can’t make the original appointment. Your entire claim can be denied or delayed if you don’t make it to your appointment. Step one to a favorable C&P Exam is showing up.
You can take a spouse or caregiver with you. They can help you stay calm and fill in any blanks you forget to mention to the doctor.
The best way to prepare is to write down every symptom and condition you have and how that affects your daily life. You want to show that back pain affects your ability to work or how your PTSD affects your interpersonal relationships. You want to have a complete list for the doctor of how your service-connected disabilities affect your daily life.