on time or a little early.
polite. Yelling at the examiner for the injustices
you perceive will do nothing but alienate him/her.
- Curse at your risk. You can get your point across
much better with proper English than you can with
- This person is going to judge you. It’s his/her job
and that is why you are there. To be adjudicated
fairly. How would you like to be remembered? A
skuzzy stereotypical veteran? Or a troubled one who
is doing the best he/she can?
not talk about alcohol or drug related issues. You
are not there to be assessed for those problems. You
are there to be assessed for your psychiatric
functioning as today relates to your service
history. If the examiner asks about alcohol or
drugs, politely remind them that you are not there
for those issues, if you’ve ever had them, but for
how impaired you are in your daily functioning.
It’s best to avoid even talking about them.
- Got a VA horror story? I can tell you a worse one.
Don’t waste your time with how badly you believe
you’ve been mistreated. The examiner only has a
short time to figure out how impaired you are and
they need the facts. In coherent, concise,
sentences, and not rambling rants that lead no
- Answer the questions to the best of your ability.
If you don’t know say so.
- This is nearly a no brainer but be honest. Don’t
embellish your stories with fanciful tales. Just
the facts please. Be able to document everything
you tell the examiner. You may run into someone
like me who checked stories out. If possible have
letters from people you served with, unit diary
copies of incidents that occurred during your time
and space, and letters from family members. Family
member letters usually don’t add a lot of weight to
your case because families are there to support you
and examiners understand that.
sleep is a problem for you don’t sleep the night
before. Go in on the ragged edge of tired out. But
do your best not to be rude and insensitive.
Payback in a C & P exam is you lose. Not all
examiners are that way but I have met a few that
should not have been examiners.
- When responding to examiners you need to pick the
worst moment of time relating to that question. You
need to be rated for the worst times you have had.
I always picked a really bad day and related all of
my answers to that day. The day I could not sleep,
was anxious and startled easily, was grouchy to my
wife and friends, felt like my heart was coming out
of my chest, and nothing went right for me. That
day should have been in the last 30-90 days. If it
was a year ago you may not need to be having this
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
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.
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.”
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