The results of a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P exam, can make a big difference in your VA (Veteran Affairs) disability claim. This is true whether you are applying for the first time or seeking an increase in benefits based on a worsening condition.
If you have any questions about C&P exams, what they’re used for, and how much weight they carry in your case. This tells how much important the exams are to your final disability rating percentage.
What Is A C&P Exam?
A C&P exam is an independent medical or psychological examination administered by a VA physician or psychologist. It is not conducted by a private physician, nor by a non-VA medical professional, or a non-VA psychologist.
The purpose of this examination is to evaluate whether the condition for which you’re seeking disability benefits is service-connected. This means that it will be determined whether your condition was caused by or exacerbated by your military service, and also to what degree it impacts your ability to function.
What Is A Negative C&P?
If a C&P exam is negative, it means that the physician or psychologist who conducted the examination did not find enough evidence to support a diagnosis for the health condition.
This does not mean that you do not have a service-related condition. It may simply mean that more evidence is needed in order to make a definitive diagnosis.
Can You Get A VA Disability Rating Without An Exam?
The VA has a list of medical conditions that are automatically considered service-connected. If you have one of these conditions, then a C&P exam may not be required.
The results of your C&P exam are not only considered in determining the service connection of your condition but they can also be used to determine the level of disability compensation you will receive if service connection is granted.
According to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), “If an examiner finds that a veteran has a current disability and there is no evidence that it is related to or aggravated by military service, then there will be no presumption that the current disability was incurred during active military or naval service.”
In other words, if you have been granted disability compensation based on your C&P exams and those exams do show signs that it may be linked to your time in the military (or even deteriorating due to old age), then you will receive 100% disabled benefits. Otherwise, it can be challenging your claim.
When Is A C&P Required?
If you are filing a claim for increased benefits based on a worsening of your condition, the results of your C&P exam will be given significant weight.
The examiner will assess your current level of function and compare it to the records from your previous exams. If there has been a significant worsening, then you will most likely be granted an increased rating.
Even if you have ample medical evidence for your condition, VA may still want you to attend a C&P exam. There are several reasons this might happen, including:
- To determine service connection. In some cases, the C&P examiner will request more specific information about your military service record that is not available from your medical records. For example, maybe the examiner wants to know if you were exposed to Agent Orange during your time in Vietnam or if you were in combat at any point during your time overseas. The examiner could also ask about any other conditions that may impact their determination of disability compensation like traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- To determine secondary conditions related to PTSD. Many veterans with PTSD suffer from other symptoms as well including depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse issues among many others so it’s important for the examiner to understand how these secondary conditions affect daily life before making a final decision about service connection and disability rating.
What Are A C&P Used For?
A C&P exam can also be used to establish secondary conditions related to your service-connected disability, such as sleep apnea caused by service-connected PTSD, or heart disease due to exposure to Agent Orange.
If you have a service-connected disability and another condition that is related to the service-connected disability, your doctor can write a C&P exam to help establish that other condition.
For example, if you were diagnosed with sleep apnea as a result of a service-connected PTSD diagnosis, your doctor may request a C&P exam to verify that insomnia is indeed caused by PTSD.
In addition, if you have multiple conditions that are not related but could potentially be connected (for example having both bipolar disorder and major depression), submitting an SF Form along with all appropriate supporting documentation will allow VA healthcare providers the opportunity to review it.
After that, they can make any recommendations on treatment options or accommodations.
Can You Question A C&P decision?
You can disagree with the results of your C&P exam, you should not be afraid to question them or get a second opinion. If you have new evidence to support your claim, you can submit it for review.
If your disability is based on mental health issues, it may take longer for your claim to go through because there are many factors that go into proving mental illness claims.
While this process is underway, it’s important not to stop taking medications as prescribed by your doctor just because they were denied at first—remember: nothing is final until all appeals have been exhausted and payment has been made!
A C&P exam is a critical part of the VA disability claims process. It can be intimidating, but if you know what to expect and prepare yourself accordingly, you will be in good shape.
Remember, the results of your C&P exam can determine whether or not your claim for service connection is granted and how much compensation you are awarded.
After the C&P exam, the next step is to wait for a decision from the VA.
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