5 Steps to Get Ready for Your C&P Exam
When filing for service-related disability compensation or non-service-related pension for a permanent disability, you’ll likely find that one of the most intimidating parts of the application process is the Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam.
During this exam, you will be asked a battery of questions concerning your time in service, your disabling illness or injury, and the way in which your life has been affected. Preparing for this exam can make it far less stressful by ensuring that you’re ready to deliver answers that actually bolster and justify your claim, rather than undermining it. Following are five steps to help you get ready.
1. Review Your Private, Military, and VA Medical Records
More often than not, a veteran’s medical records will play the most important role in determining whether disability compensation or pension is approved. It is important for you to know exactly what your medical records say, given that many of your C&P exam questions will be based on these.
If your private, military, or VA records lack evidence of a professional diagnosis of the disability that you’re claiming, you will need supporting evidence of such. You should also comb through these records to search for:
- Evidence of reasonable connections between your time in service and your disability
- Evidence of service duties or environments that may have aggravated your disability
- Subjective symptoms within your in-service medical records
- Evidence of ongoing efforts to receive treatment for your disability or its symptoms
If you have a vision-related or neurological disability that makes this pre-exam review difficult, seek help from an attorney, family member, friend, veterans advocacy group, or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO).
2. Bolster Your Claim With a “Disability Benefits Questionnaire”
One way to provide additional, valuable evidence for your claim is by having your doctor complete a “Disability Benefits Questionnaire.” These documents are designed to help rating specialists at the VA rate claimed disabilities accurately. The questions contained within it will serve as a guideline for much of what you’ll be asked and how you should respond.
Once completed by your doctor, you can review this questionnaire to get a good idea of what to expect on the day of your C&P exam. You should also make sure to provide the VA with a copy of this questionnaire and all other supporting evidence well ahead of your actual exam date. Doing so will give them a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges that you’re facing.
3. Leverage Your Right to Use Your Own Medical Doctor
Rather than working with a medical examiner that the VA has chosen for you, exercise your right to work with your own medical doctor. Every veteran has the choice of having their medical exams completed by their personal physicians.
By doing so, you’ll retain more control over both the exam itself and your claim. More importantly, your physician will likely have a much more in-depth knowledge of your condition, the way in which your condition is impacting your life quality, and your post-service medical history.
4. Perform Disability-Specific Research
Every disability claim is different given the varying ways in which specific injuries and illnesses impact a person’s life and their ability to engage in normal and essential activities. Visit online learning libraries and resource centers such as those offered by Sinklaw P.A. to get a clear view of how cases like your own have been handled in the past.
You can also work with veterans advocacy groups to acquire more needs-specific information for delivering clear, concise, and ultimately beneficial answers during your C&P exam.
5. Be Prepared to Talk About How You Do Things Differently
With all disability claims, people are often encouraged to talk about the things that they’re no longer able to do. While it’s certainly important to prepare details on how your disability has limited your functioning or has altogether prevented you from functioning in specific ways, you also need to talk about how your disability has made it necessary to do things differently. For instance, you might:
- Still, put your own socks on but need a grabbing device or other tools to get the job done
- Continue handling your basic hygiene but rely heavily on assistive devices in the shower
- Prepare your own meals but subsist primarily or solely on ready-made foods
Determining how a person’s disability has impacted their life quality is not just about learning what they can and cannot do, but also discovering how they are forced to do things in different and less efficient ways.
Getting ready for a C&P exam can be unnerving. This, however, is a critical step toward getting the assistance you need. With the tips above, you can make sure that you’re well-prepared for all of the questions that you’re likely to encounter throughout this process.