Nothing is more frustrating than going to VA compensation and pension exam (C&P Exam) and getting the report back that concludes the disability is not service connected. The bad thing is that most VA decisions for service-connected disability is based on these C&P exam reports. I have been to several C&P exams in my tenure as a veteran. I recall walking out of some C&P exams thinking I am about to get screwed by the VA.
Many veterans have the same feeling as I’ve had after attending VA C&P exams. A veteran goes to the C&P exams thinking they are going to receive a thorough examination of their disability only to be left with questions. Did the C&P examiner actually listen to what I was telling them? Was the C&P exam in depth enough to provide the decision makers with enough information to make a fair decision? How can the VA decide a veterans fate off of a very limited time C&P exam?
One thing that I have learned, as a veteran, is that after a C&P exam a veteran should obtain a doctor’s report of the C&P exam. This done for several reasons.
- The veteran can read in the C&P exam report if the doctor/examiner reviewed the veteran’s claims file. It is very crucial that a C&P doctor reviews the veteran’s claims file. This is because reviewing the veteran’s claim file will allow the C&P doctor to evaluate the historical evidence in the veteran’s case.
- If C&P doctor does not review the veteran’s claim file, the veteran should file a written argument that the VA C&P examiner’s opinion is uninformed since they failed to check the veteran’s claims file.
- The veteran should also make sure that the facts in the veteran’s claim file matches what the VA C&P doctor spelled out in the C&P exam report. There are times when a C&P examiner will use other facts not specifically related to the veteran to make a decision.
- This means that a VA doctor may use generalized information related to the disability in question as opposed to the facts related specifically to the veteran’s disability.
- If this is the case the veteran should file an argument that the VA C&P report holds zero weight since it relied on an inaccurate factual premise.
- Another basis of concern is the VA examiner’s rationale. It is common to see VA exam reports in the form of a checklist. These forms ask the doctor to check off certain boxes. VA doctors, typically, do not provide sufficient reasons for their opinions. In other words, the VA doctor will give a bottom-line conclusion that it is less likely than not that the disability is service connected.
- Under these circumstances, the veteran should submit a disagreement addressing the C&P examiner’s report as inadequate due to the lack of rationale. The VA doctor must give reasons to support their conclusion. Failure to support their conclusion should entitle their opinion to hold zero weight.
Keep in mind that the goal is not to discredit the VA C&P examiner, but to prove their opinion is wrong. One of the best ways to do this is by obtaining a non-VA doctor’s opinion. This is called a medical nexus letter. Make sure this private doctor has access to and reviews your VA claims file first. Make sure the private medical expert points out in their findings why they feel the VA examiner was incorrect and point out factors that the VA examiner failed to consider.
The private medical expert should also site sources such as medical studies, articles, etc. that supports the veteran being granted service connection for the disability in question.