Preparing for a C&P Exam: 4 Things Veterans Should Know
Preparation Help is Available at No Cost to Warriors
|Table of Contents|
|Obstacles and Advice|
|C&P Exams and the PACT Act|
|Get Help Through the C&P Process|
The compensation and pension (C&P) exam is often a major factor in deciding whether a veteran qualifies for disability benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).
If a veteran or service member is scheduled for a C&P exam, it is important to know what to expect and how to best prepare beforehand.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) can help warriors prepare for their C&P exams free of charge. WWP benefits services officers can answer warriors’ questions and concerns and, as VA-accredited National Service Officers, they have the ability to monitor the progress of warriors’ claims, as well as advocate on their behalf.
“The C&P exam can basically be the deciding factor,” said Michael Snook, WWP regional benefits director. “There are nuances, and every claim is different, but it can make or break a case. It can be the difference between approval or denial. It’s really the most important part of the process for a lot of warriors to really substantiate what is wrong and how bad it is.”
C&P exams help establish if a veteran’s injury or illness is linked to active-duty military service, a requirement for VA disability compensation. Establishing that link is crucial, and C&P exams are one of the most common and recognized ways VA confirms this connection. C&P exams are also often used to determine whether a veteran’s disability rating should be changed because symptoms have worsened or additional illnesses or injuries from military service have appeared.
Obstacles and Advice
WWP Benefits Training Specialist Timothy Velasquez, who spent nine years with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), details some obstacles and advice veterans should consider when it comes to C&P exams.
- Contract providers: Oftentimes, physicians conducting the exam(s) are not connected to VA. Although certified by VA to conduct C&P exams for the purposes of establishing service connection or an increase in benefits, some physicians might be unfamiliar with veterans’ issues.
- Distance to exam site: The goal is to have veterans travel no more than 50 miles to an exam, but veterans could opt to travel further if they could get an exam sooner. However, some veterans have had to travel much longer distances to attend an exam because they have few options closer to home. If this is your situation, you should contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 and ask for your examination to be scheduled close to your home of residence.
- Scheduling conflicts: VA contracted providers are unaware of a veteran’s scheduling preferences. It’s important for veterans to know how they can positively impact their examination schedules by calling the VA’s main hotline when needed to reschedule appointments. They can also call their veterans experience officer at their local VA medical center or VA community-based outpatient clinic for assistance. In some instances, veterans are unaware that their examination(s) had been scheduled until after the date on which they were notified. In any event, veterans are encouraged to reach out to the VA at 1-800-827-1000 to reschedule. Exams with a contract provider can only be rescheduled once per exam, and the new appointment must be within five days of the original appointment.
- Exam preparation: Know what to expect when it comes to the C&P exam to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. This is not the time to downplay your pain or injuries. The VA needs detailed symptoms and how those impact your daily life. WWP helps warriors by informing them in detail of what to expect. “Our team spends time with warriors individually to ensure they're prepared for their C&P exams and know what to expect,” Velasquez said. “We can help prepare them for a positive exam experience.”
C&P Exams and the PACT Act
The SFC Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act guarantees care and benefits for veterans who suffer ill effects of exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving our nation.
Among the things accomplished in the PACT Act was declaring 24 new presumptive conditions tied to toxic exposure. Although the diagnosis of one of the presumptive conditions may alleviate some of the obstacles to establishing a service connection, it is still likely that a C&P exam will be required.
“Though presumptive service connection can be conceded, veterans generally must attend a C&P exam for VA to assign a rating,” Velasquez said.
- Upload medical records through the VA’s claims status tool on the VA website or submit to an accredited VA representative ahead of the scheduled appointment.
- Confirm appointment by calling the number on the exam notification letter or on the phone if called. You can also ask for transportation assistance to the exam.
- If you miss your exam, call VA at 1-800-827-1000 or upload a letter through the claims status tool to explain the reasons. Some of the valid reasons the VA may reschedule a missed exam include death in the family, homelessness, hospitalization, and terminal illness.
- Don’t expect prescriptions or referrals. The C&P exam is to collect information related to a disability claim.
- C&P exam providers aren’t able to provide answers to questions about your claims process, tell you the results of your exam, or make decisions on your claim.
- VA will make a claims decision based on the review of your C&P exam, as well as other medical records and reports. The timeline for a decision varies by claim, but veterans can check the status of their claims online, can request an update from their accredited representative, or can simply wait for their decision letter to arrive in the mail.
Get Help Through the C&P Process
As a veteran, you don’t have to go through the C&P process alone. The WWP Benefits Services program can help guide you through the disability process from start to finish, at no cost to you.
The WWP Benefits Services team can help post-9/11 veterans file an initial disability claim, prepare for a C&P exam, appeal a previous claim, and even apply for VA health care benefits.
“When in doubt, talk to a VSO,” Snook said. “If you’re concerned about your benefits or about being set up for success with your examinations, there are VSOs out there that can help you. We want our warriors to know they can come to us to help them obtain the benefits they’ve earned in a manner that honors their service.”
Find out more about how WWP can help warriors here.
Contact: — Paris Moulden, Public Relations, email@example.com, 904.570.7910
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.