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Things to do at your VA C and P exam (Compensation and Pension Exam Do and Don't) by Steve A. Neff MSW
The following is written from a C & P examiners perspective relating to psychiatric exams. It is a good guideline for all exams but I only did psych exams. I’ve been examined by the VA for multiple problems and this is my format when I go to be examined. A little common sense and clarity of thinking will go a long ways towards getting you what you are entitled.
The questions you are being asked are on a script in front of the examiner. After examiners do this for a while they get a sense of what is in front of them. It’s not too difficult to determine when someone is flat out lying and when they are struggling with memory. The above does not mean that examiners cannot be scammed because they can be. I discovered veterans that were lying and dealt with them by reporting this to the proper authorities at the VA. It’s a Federal criminal act to lie in order to gain monetary compensation. And the odds are you will be prosecuted. It simply isn’t worth it.
Examiners are generally good people trying to do a very
difficult job. Make it easy for them. I always
advocated having the individual’s husband/wife in the
room with me during the exam. As an examiner I enjoyed
having someone’s spouse with them. Husbands and wives
can tell the truth much better than the veteran. Ask
your wife how well you’ve done in the past ten days
versus your own opinion of how you’ve been doing. Quite
a dramatic difference if you are truthful!
Remember to report how you REALLY are doing and not how
you’d like to be doing. One of the questions I always
had a hard time asking was, “How are you doing today?”
Most veterans want to be doing MUCH better than they
really are. It’s like we know we can be doing better,
and have done better, but our pride does not want to let
anyone know how badly we really are doing. Veterans
would answer the above question with, “Well I’m doing
pretty good.” Should I write down that, “The veteran
reports that he is doing pretty good?” Not if you want
your claim adjudicated fairly.
The best answer I ever got from a veteran was a former Marine Vietnam Veteran who said, “If I’m here I can’t be doing very well now can I? I haven’t been able to sleep for the past ten days over worrying about this exam, my wife says I’m really grumpy, and the bill collectors call all of the time.”
What this veteran just told me was he couldn’t sleep due to anxiety, the heart of PTSD, was depressed (remember grumpy?), another key facet of PTSD, and he’s had problems with his work history if he can’t pay his bills. He wasn’t angry about what he said. He was so matter of fact it took me a bit to realize what he had said. He could have been talking about having a cup of coffee for all of the emotion he expressed. These are things I can explore further with the veteran. I don’t have to hunt or pull teeth for information. This veteran controlled the exam because he was clear about his problems and knew what he wanted to say. I spent some extra time with him. In the end he ended up 100% service-connected for PTSD. He had his ducks in a row, paperwork all present, and had done enough clinical work prior to the exam that he knew what his problems were and more importantly how to express them to another person.