Matthew Hill: And today we’d like to talk to you a little bit about … We’re talking about a series on big mistakes vets make, and problems that are presented in their claim, that interfere with them getting the benefits they deserve. Today, we just want to talk briefly on C&P exams, comp and pen exams.
Carol Ponton: Compensation and pension exams.
Matthew Hill: And essentially, these exams are issued by the VA. The VA has a duty to assist you to win your claim. If they feel that what’s missing, to prevent benefits, are either medical opinion about the disease being connected to service, or medical opinion about the rating, the severity of the disability, then they’re generally going to send you to C&P exam. We only see cases where there’s already been a denial, but the biggest –
Carol Ponton: So usually there’s been a compensation and pension exam.
Matthew Hill: I mean, that usually is the biggest reason for denial, right Carol?
Carol Ponton: Exactly. So what is a compensation and pension exam? The person that’s deciding your case looks at the evidence and says, “Okay, we’re missing something. Are we missing the service connected problem, or are we missing the diagnosis, and how bad your condition is?” They will set up a compensation and pension exam, to have you evaluated.
Now, they are going to say, on their notes, exactly what they’re looking for. You don’t know, but if you call the people that have set this up, they will tell you it’s a PTSD exam, if that’s what you’re claiming, that it’s an exam for your back, maybe they’re going to do some testing on you, blood work, to see if you have diabetes. They will let you know, so you need to be prepared for that exam.
If you’re going in for a PTSD, you should get … There’s a form that the VA has, and it lists problems that anybody who has PTSD has, nightmares, flashbacks, lack of trust, anger, and if you don’t have a problem in each one of those little categories, you don’t have PTSD, according to the VA, so you really need to figure out what are they looking for, because it’s not that our veterans don’t have it, it’s they usually talk about what’s bothering the most that day.
They may have lots of nightmares, but they have an anger problem, and on the way to the VA exam, they got in a fight with somebody that was driving near them. You need to make sure what are they looking for, so that you give them all of those things.
Matthew Hill: I would say on that, if you know the exam you’re going in for, you get a buddy statement or two, people who live with you, or close friends, to just write what they observe in you. Not how great a guy you are and all this stuff, but, “Today, I see Fred. I see him wincing when he bends over. He has to sit down after walking up a flight of stairs-“
Carol Ponton: “I help him with his yard because he can’t do it anymore.”
Matthew Hill: And those are things you want to take with you. We always recommend that our veterans take somebody with them, a witness, a wife, or a child, or somebody. The majority of the time, they’re not going to let, as in 90% of the time they’re not going to let that person back into the exam room with them. However, if you have these buddy statements, and you can at least hand them to the person, I’d keep copies for myself but you have these buddy statements that you hand to them, the doctor should review that, hopefully, and have and understanding of how bad it is, but then also note that in their review.
Carol Ponton: But to be safe, you should turn that into the VA separately.
Matthew Hill: Yeah.
Carol Ponton: We also find that the VA will often give you a form to fill out, and you need to make sure that form is complete. If they’re talking about your back, talk about the pain going down your leg, or the fact that you’re incontinent, or the fact that that makes you depressed. This is your chance to put everything down, because often, veterans will go in, and they’re there 10 minutes or less, and then they end up seeing this huge compensation and pension report, goes on for pages, and they go, “Where did they get all this information?”
Matthew Hill: It makes it look like the doctor really sat down and took time with you, when you know he didn’t.
Carol Ponton: But a lot of times they just copied it off whatever the form was that you handed in, so if that’s the case, you want to make sure this form is complete. The other thing that I tell veterans is this is the one time somebody, a doctor from the VA, is going to see you, so if you’re going in, and most of the time, you’re at home in your pajamas, and you don’t shave, and you don’t get your hair cut, don’t dress up for this person. They want to know how are you really functioning in life, and if that’s the way you are-
Matthew Hill: It’s your chance to show them what your day-to-day existence is, and you don’t need to put makeup on that.
Carol Ponton: And that’s a big mistake that I see. The veterans, maybe the spouse, maybe the person that lives with them says, “Oh, you can’t go looking like that. You need to take a shower. You need to do this.” Well if you don’t usually do it, don’t do it. Let them see how this condition has affected you.
Matthew Hill: Well, this is our blog on C&P exams, and their importance, and how we see they can be messed up and veterans not get the benefits they deserve due to what happened there. Thank you for tuning in, and again, we have several other big mistakes we see that you should be able to find on this channel.