Veterans who file disability claims are often subject to a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam to determine if their service-related illness or injury meets the qualifications to receive disability benefits. The success of your veterans disability claim may be contingent upon the outcome of your C&P exam. Disability benefits can be a critical resource for veterans who have suffered career setbacks, lost function or sensation, and experienced a lower quality of life due to a debilitating injury or illness connected to their military service.
Our team of VA-accredited attorneys is committed to providing clear guidance, unwavering support, and critical insight to veterans who have become sick or injured as a result of their service. Our trusted team is made up of veterans, so you can rest assured that we understand the challenges of dealing with the VA disability claims system as attorneys and as former military members. If you have questions about the veterans disability claims process, we encourage you to reach out to us at (866) 481-5347 or fill out our online contact form today.
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Understanding the Purpose of a C&P Exam
After filing a veterans disability claim to secure benefits, you may be asked to undergo a Compensation and Pension exam as a part of the claims process. A Compensation and Pension exam, more commonly known as a C&P, is a medical evaluation of your service-related injury or illness. C&P exams are used to investigate both physical ailments and mental injuries. You will not receive treatment at the appointment, nor will the provider give you a referral to a specialist or prescribe medication.
The VA conducts Compensation and Pension exams to determine a veteran’s level of disability and ascertain if the injury or illness was acquired as a result of military service. Ultimately, this information allows the VA to determine if you qualify for veterans disability benefits and provide a disability rating. That being said, a C&P is not always necessary for the VA to make a decision about your veterans disability claim. If your medical records and service records provide sufficient evidence of your disability and its relation to your service, the VA uses the Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) process.
You may receive a request for additional supporting documentation, but a physical exam would not be necessary. For example, if you were claiming a presumptive condition with a clear link to your military service and provided an established history of treatment, you may not be directed to attend a C&P exam. Under the PACT Act, numerous conditions were added to the list of known risks of military service, which has helped validate veterans pursuing VA disability claims and undergoing C&P exams.
What to Expect in a Compensation and Pension Exam
The process of scheduling a Compensation and Pension exam is initiated by the VA, which will notify you of your C&P appointment. Appointments will likely be in person, but telehealth appointments may be approved. Depending on the type of provider you need and the availability of services in your area, you will be scheduled to see either a VA provider or a VA contractor. Your travel to the appointment will be compensated. It is important to attend your scheduled appointment if at all possible, as this keeps your claim on track.
You do not need to bring anything with you to your C&P exam, but it is important to keep your records updated beforehand. During the C&P, the provider may conduct a physical exam, inquire about information in your medical records, and request additional tests like an MRI or blood panel. For sensitive C&P exams, you can specify that you would prefer a male or female provider. This includes exams for injuries related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST), physical exams involving the breasts, genitals, and rectum, or mental health evaluations.
There are certain situations that warrant more than one C&P exam. If you are attempting to claim disability benefits for multiple injuries or illnesses, you may need more than one C&P exam so an appropriately qualified evaluator can be present. The VA may also schedule a review exam to determine if your service-related disability has worsened or improved so that they can provide the most accurate assessment of your disability rating. If you develop a secondary condition or complication from your original service-related disability, this may also require a C&P. Once you have completed your C&P exam or exams, you should expect a decision letter from the VA.
The Outcome of Your C&P Exam Impacts the Disability Benefits You Are Eligible For
The foundation of many veterans disability claims rests on the results of C&P exams. Not only does a C&P provide the additional information the VA needs to decide if an individual’s illness or injuries qualify for compensation, but it also informs what level of disability benefits they are entitled to receive based on the assigned disability rating. For physical injuries, a disability rating is assigned in 10% increments up to 100%, whereas mental injuries like PTSD are given disability ratings at 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100%.
From there, your disability rating determines what benefits you can claim based on the level of compensation that corresponds with your rating. For example, say that you receive a disability rating of 70% for your toxic burn pit injuries based on the results of your C&P. Your injuries have made it impossible for you to hold a typical job, and your disability rating qualifies you for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). However, if your combined disability rating was evaluated at 100%, you would potentially be eligible for additional benefits, such as Special Monthly Compensation.
The importance of a C&P exam cannot be overstated. You need to be as detailed and accurate as possible to ensure a fair disability rating, and consequently, appropriate compensation. It is also essential to report a poor provider experience. For example, if an evaluator ignores or dismisses key evidence of your disability, exhibits improper bias, is unqualified to assess your disability, or can’t support their conclusions, you may need to consider an appeal. If your C&P examiner fails to accurately assess the severity of your injury or illness, this can result in your veterans disability claim being denied.
Contact Our VA-Accredited Lawyers For Help With Your Veterans Disability Claim Today
As experienced veterans disability lawyers, we have the necessary knowledge and skill set to help you successfully secure disability benefits from the VA. Our team of VA-accredited attorneys will be by your side as you file a veterans disability benefit claim, prepare for your C&P exam, and deal with the ramifications of your results. If needed, we can help you appeal an inaccurate C&P evaluation to obtain the benefits you are entitled to.
You can rely on our qualified attorneys to carefully review the facts of your veterans disability claim, determine what benefits you should be able to secure, help you navigate the bureaucracy of the VA, and advocate for you to receive the full extent of the benefits that your C&P results qualify you to receive. For a detailed look at the veterans disability claims process, give us a call at (866) 481-5347 or fill out our online contact form today.