A C&P exam, short for Compensation and Pension exam, is a medical examination used by VA to help determine the severity of a veteran’s disability and assign an appropriate rating. C&P exams form a crucial element of the disability ratings approval process, and though they may come as an inconvenience to veterans, VA often uses them for initial ratings decisions and changes to ratings down the road.
Before we delve into the details, let’s cut to the chase. Do you need to attend a C&P exam? Yes. Absolutely. VA schedules C&P exams to collect further information about your condition, and if VA deems an exam is necessary for you, then you must attend. If you’re not able to attend at the scheduled time, it is up to you to contact VA and make other arrangements. Failing to attend an exam would have worse consequences for your chances at a disability rating than an exam that turns up unfavorable information.
Does VA always require C&P exams?
The flip side is that VA won’t necessarily require a C&P exam for all disability claims. Veterans with permanent and total disabilities will not be asked to attend one down the road, for instance. In some cases, your claim may contain all the information needed to reach a conclusion and assign you a rating. Don’t count on this happening, however. No matter how strong your bill your claim, always be prepared for an exam to be scheduled.
Why does VA schedule C&P exams?
The broadest reason for VA to schedule a C&P exam is that it needs to collect more information about your condition. There are a handful of reasons and scenarios for VA to do this:
- Verify the nexus, or service connection, between your condition and your in-service incident
- Investigate any diagnostic discrepancies
- Collect further medical information to inform the ratings decision
- Check for changes in symptoms due to new medical evidence or a newly submitted claim
- Investigate medical condition for a secondary service-connected condition
Can a C&P exam harm your rating?
C&P exams are ordered to collect information, and if it that information does not align with what VA finds in your claim, it may reach the conclusion that your rating should be reduced. This could merely be the reality of your condition. But could VA make a mistake? Certainly. A 2017 oversight report by the Office of the Inspector General reported that over a third of a sample of reexaminations scheduled between March and May of that year were unwarranted. The sad truth is, mistakes happen, hasty decisions get made, and your ratings can suffer as a result. If you suspect this may have happened to you, your best shot is to appeal the decision and present a strong claim from the get-go.
Assistance with your claim
C&P exams may be a nuisance, but they cannot be ignored. Be sure to attend an exam if the VA has scheduled one with you. If you need assistance filling a claim or an appeal, or you think your rating has been unjustifiably reduced, contact VA Disability Group at 844-VET-LAWS or fill out our online form.