Every disabled military veteran who files a VA benefits claim must attend a C&P exam. This “C&P” abbreviation stands for compensation and pension exam. It’s also how the agency assigns your VA disability rating. These exams are a bit different than what you are used to when visiting your own doctor. The purpose is not to treat you or prescribe any medication. Instead, this exam helps the VA determine if your disability’s directly connected to your military service. The C&P exam doctor will also determine your disability’s severity level and whether it’s gotten worse over time.
Six Key Tips To Make Your C&P Exam Go Smoothly
To avoid any complications and improve your chances for winning VA benefits, follow the C&P exam success tips listed below.
Success Tip #1: Research your condition and the VA’s disability rating standards first.
Check out the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities before your C&P exam to review their standards. Then, write down the following and take it with you to your C&P exam:
- List all your current symptoms (if you have multiple conditions, break them out separately for each impairment)
- How often you have them
- Describe how these symptoms affect your daily life
Have a spouse, close friend or relative look over your list to make sure you left nothing out.
Related: Does Gulf War Syndrome Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?
Success Tip #2: Show up to your C&P exam on time — plan to arrive 15 minutes early.
And if possible, bring a spouse or loved one with you who can corroborate your symptoms. This is helpful, because it can be easy to forget to mention (or gloss over) symptoms you’ve become accustomed to dealing with each day.
While this may sound obvious, it’s crucial to attend your C&P exam. Missing yours could delay the VA’s determination decision on your claim. If you have to reschedule your exam, contact the VA immediately and do it. Do not try to reschedule on the same day as your exam.
Success Tip #3: Don’t exaggerate or downplay your symptoms!
The VA doctor’s more likely to believe you if another person agrees with your self-assessment during the C&P exam. During your exam, the doctor may do some or all of the following:
- Ask questions about your symptoms/condition
- Observe your behavior
- Perform a physical exam
- Review your file with you
Your exam may last only 10 minutes, or go on for much longer. If you’re going in for a mental health evaluation, it may take up to four hours.
Success Tip #4: Don’t offer more info than the doctor asks for during your C&P exam.
It is important not to ask too many questions or ramble on about your life. The doctor needs to diagnose you and rate your disability according to VA standards. To help speed this process up, your answers should be short, direct, and to the point. Don’t flatter or confront the VA doctor, either. This person is on your side and has a specific job to do with limited time to do it.
In addition to conducting your exam, the VA doctor also reviews your medical records. For this reason, please don’t worry if your C&P exam seems short. A short exam does not mean that the VA plans to deny your claim. Be sure to submit all your medical records along with your application. Do this before your claim exam.
Success Tip #5: Get the doctor’s business card and ask for a copy of your C&P exam results.
You’ll want to have this info on hand before receiving your VA disability rating in the mail. This information will come in handy if you decide to appeal afterwards. Likewise, make sure the VA has all your current contact information.
Success Tip #6: As soon as you leave, write down every question the doctor asked you.
Also, note any tests performed during your C&P exam. As with tip #5, doing so will help you if you need to appeal your VA disability rating. That’s because you’ll already have some evidence to support your claim if you believe your rating’s too low. These notes will also help if you want to request a second C&P exam.
Keep in mind that the person examining you isn’t the same one who decides your VA disability rating. Contact your regional VA office if you have concerns or questions, not the exam doctor. That C&P doctor won’t know anything about your claim’s status during your exam. The VA takes an average of 3-4 months to process each benefits claim.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Still have questions about your C&P exam (or worried about filing your VA disability benefits claim)? Get free legal advice from a VA-accredited attorney today. All lawyers in our network work on contingency. That means if you need professional help filing your claim or appealing your denial, you’ll pay nothing up front.
VBA annual report data shows that 9 in 10 veterans with lawyers handling their cases prevail against the VA in court. The only time you’ll pay anything is if a lawyer helps you win VA benefits. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation now!
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.