An Accredited Represntative is someone who has gone through formal training and has applied with the Department of Veterans Affiars. They must pass a test administered by VA in order to be recognized by VA to become Accredited. By doing this, they can represent you (the veteran or family of a veteran) with the claim process.
There are several accredited individuals, organizations and Attorney/Agents out there.
They are refered to by various abbrivations;
VSO = Veteran Service Officer
NSO = National Service Officer
CSO = County Service Officer
Many non-profit organizations have these Service Officers, such as for example;
DAV - Disabled American Veterans
VFW - Veterans of Foreign Wars
For more information about who can represent you and what they may charge (if any), follow this link's to VA's web site.
This is an Article on our Site concerning this topic. Information you should know Selecting VSO Representative Attorney or Agent Represent You Your
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses many acronyms and abbreviations for VA terms. An accredited Veteran's disability attorney, VSO or Claims Agent will be very familiar with “VA speak.” We have compiled the following list of VA abbreviations to help you read VA records and understand VA shorthand.
- 9 VA Form 9, Appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals
- 10-10EC VA Form 10-10EC, Application for Extended Care Services
- 10-10EZ VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits
- 10-10EZR VA Form 10-10EZR, Health Benefits Renewal Form
- 1151 Claim A claim for benefits under 38 U.S.C. Section 1151 as a result of injury caused by VA treatment or rehabilitation services similar to a medical malpractice claim.
- A&A Aid and attendance
- AAO Assistant adjudication officer
- ABCMR Army Board for Correction of Military Records
- ACAP Annual clothing allowance payment
- ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
- ADHC Adult day health care
- ADL Activities of daily living
- ADT Active duty for training
- AFB Air Force Base
- AFBCMR Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records
- AFHRA Air Force Historical Research Agency
- AFI Air Force instruction
- AFIP Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
- AGG Aggravated in service
- AHRC Army Human Resources Command
- AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- AIRS Appellate Index Retrieval System
- AL American Legion
- ALJ Administrative Law Judge
- ALS Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- AMC Appeals Management Center
- AML Acute myelogenous leukemia
- AMVETS American Veterans
- AO Agent Orange or adjudication officer
- AOCAP Agent Orange Class Assistance Program
- AOJ Agency of original jurisdiction
- AOR Agent Orange Registry
- APA Administrative Procedures Act
- Appellant The party in an appeal who is challenging the decision on appeal. In the Veterans Court, the claimant seeking benefits (veteran or dependent) is always the Appellant.
- Appellee The party in an appeal who is defending the decision on appeal. In the Veterans Court, the VA Secretary is always the Appellee.
- AR Army regulation
- ARBA Army Review Boards Agency
- AVSCM Assistant Veterans Service Center Manager
- AWA All Writs Act
- AWOL Absent without official leave
- BCD Bad conduct discharge
- BCMR Board for Correction of Military Records
- BCNR Board for Correction of Naval Records
- BDD Benefits Delivery at Discharge
- BDN Benefits Delivery Network
- BHL Bilateral hearing loss
- Board The Board of Veterans' Appeals or "BVA".
- BVA The Board of Veterans' Appeals. The Board is the organization within VA that reviews initial rating decisions when the claimant files a Notice of Disagreement.
- C&C Confirmed and Continued (rating decision)
- C&P Compensation and Pension
- C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations
- CAAF Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
- CARES Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services
- CAVC The Unites States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The appellate court to which claimants can appeal adverse Board decisions. Also known as the "Veterans Court."
- CBD Chief Benefits Director
- CBO Chief business office
- CBOC Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- CCF Compound comminuted fracture
- CD Clemency discharge
- CDR Counter designation of record
- C-file Claims file. VA creates a hard copy paper file for each claimant that contains all the documents related to that claimant since the first application for benefits. C-files can contain thousands of pages of documents and must be physically shipped between offices when claims are reviewed by different VA groups or the Veterans Court.
- CFR Code of Federal Regulations
- CG Coast Guard
- CGBCMR Coast Guard Board for Correction of Military Records
- CHAMPUS Department of Defense Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Service-Split into Tricare and CHAMPVA
- CHAMPVA Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs
- CHR Consolidated health record
- CIB Combat Infantryman Badge
- Claim Number Each claimant is assigned an unique VA claim number that VA uses to identify that claimant for life. Claimants should put their claim number on each document and correspondence sent to VA.
- CLC VA Community Living Center (formerly VA Nursing Home Care Units)
- CLL Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- CMB Combat Medical Badge
- CMD Chief Medical Director
- CMO Chief Medical Officer
- CNHC Community nursing home care
- CO VA Central Office or commanding officer
- COD Character of discharge
- COG Convenience of the government
- COLA Cost-of-living adjustment
- Comp. Compensation
- Compensation A monetary benefit awarded based on the degree of disability caused by a service-connected condition.
- CONUS The contiguous United States
- COVA Court of Veterans Appeals (Renamed Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims)
- COWC Committee on Waivers and Compromises
- CPI Claims Processing Improvement
- CRC Community residential center
- CRDP Concurrent retirement and disability pay
- CRSC Combat-related special compensation
- CTA Centralized transcription activities
- CUE Clear and unmistakable error
- CURR Center for Units Records Research
- CWT VA Compensated Work Therapy Program
- DAV Disabled American Veterans
- DBQ Disability Benefits Questionnaire
- DC Diagnostic code
- DD Dishonorable discharge
- DD-214 Discharge certificate
- DDD Degenerative disc disease
- DEA Dependent's educational assistance - Chapter 35
- DES Disability evaluation system
- DFAS Defense Finance and Accounting Services
- DFR Dropped from the rolls
- DIC Death & Indemnity Compensation. A benefit awarded to surviving spouses and qualifying dependents when a service-connected condition is a cause of a veteran's death.
- DM Diabetes mellitus
- DMZ Demilitarized zone
- DNA Defense Nuclear Agency
- DOD Department of Defense
- DRB Discharge Review Board
- DRE Discharge Review Board
- DRO Decision Review Officer. Usually an experienced member of a regional office rating team who reviews a rating decision at the request of the claimant after an initial denial. DRO review is optional and cannot change decisions favorable to a claimant.
- DSM American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders Current Edition V (Five)
- DSMV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.)
- DSO Department service officer
- DTR Deep tendon reflexes
- DVA The Department of Veterans Affairs. A technically more accurate acronym than "VA," although not as widely used.
- EAD Entry on active duty
- EAJA Equal Access to Justice Act
- eBenefits VA online portal that allows veterans to manage their benefits and personal information.
- ECA Expedited Claims Adjudication Initiative
- ED Erectile dysfunction
- EGC Electrocardiogram
- EKG Electrocardiogram
- EOB Explanation of benefits
- EOD Entry on Duty or Explosive Ordinance Disposal
- EPC End product control
- ESG Environmental Support Group (see USASCRUR)
- ETS Expiration of term of service
- EVR Eligibility verification report
- FDC Fully Developed Claim
- Federal Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The federal appellate court to which claimants and VA can appeal Veteran Court decisions.
- FOIA Freedom of Information Act
- Form 9 The VA form that must be submitted after receipt of a Statement of the Case to perfect an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
- FR index Federal Register Index
- FTCA Federal Tort Claims Act
- GAO Government Accounting Office
- GC General counsel
- GC General Counsel
- GD General discharge
- GPO Government Printing Office
- GSW Gun shot wound
- GWS Gulf war syndrome
- HB Housebound
- HD Honorable discharge
- HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
- HISA Home improvement and structural alterations
- HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
- HO Hearing officer
- HPV Human immunodeficiency virus
- IED Improvised explosive device
- IG Inspector general
- IME Independent medical expert or independent medical evaluation
- INC Incurred in service or Increase
- IOM Institute of Medicine
- IOP Internal operating procedures
- IRIS Inquiry Routing and Information System
- IT Incentive therapy
- IU Individual unemployability
- IVAP Income for VA purposes
- JAG Member of Judge Advocate General’s Corp
- JMR Joint motion for remand
- JSRRC Joint Services Records Research Center
- LOD Line of duty
- LOM Limitation of motion
- LSA List of Sections Affected (C.F.R.)
- LSW Licensed social worker
- M-1 VA Healthcare Adjudication Manual
- M-21 VA Claims Adjudication Manual
- M21-1MR Adjudication Procedures Manual Rewrite
- MACR Missing air crew reports
- MAPR Maximum annual pension rate
- MGIB Montgomery GI Bill
- MIB Marine index bureau
- MIL Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- MOS Military occupational specialty
- MPR Military personnel records
- MRI Magnetic resonance imaging
- MST Military Sexual Trauma
- MyHealtheVet MyHealtheVet Portal for healthcare access https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home
- NA National Archives
- NAP Income for VA purposes
- NARA National Archives and Record Administration
- NAS National Academy of Sciences
- NAUS National Association for Uniformed Services
- NHL Non-hodgkins lymphoma
- NMCB U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalion
- NOA Notice of Appeal
- NOD Notic of Death or Notice of Disagreement. Claimants must file a written NOD within one year of receiving a rating decision to be able to appeal that decision.
- NOS Not otherwise specified
- NPC Naval Personnel Command
- NPRC National Personnel Records Center
- NRPC Naval Reserve Personnel Command
- NSC Non-service-connected
- NSLI National Service Life Insurance
- NSO National service officer
- NVLSP National Veterans Legal Services Program
- OEF Operation Enduring Freedom
- OGC Office of the General Counsel
- OIF Operation Iraqi Freedom
- OIG Office of Inspector General
- OMPF Official military personnel file
- Op. G.C. Opinion of the General Counsel
- Op. Gen. Coun. Opinion of the General Counsel
- Op. VA Gen. Counsel Opinion of the General Counsel
- OPC Outpatient clinic
- OPT Outpatient treatment
- OQP Office of Quality and Performance
- OTH Other than honorable
- PCT Porphyria cutanea tarda (a liver dysfunction)
- PDBR Physical Disability Board of Review for review of medical discharges between 2001-2009
- PDR Physicians Desk Reference
- PEB Physical Evaluation Board
- PEBLO Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer
- Pen. Pension
- Pension A VA benefit based on financial need available to fully disabled veterans who served during a time of war.
- PERMS Permanent Electronic Records Management System
- PG Persian Gulf
- PGW Persian Gulf War
- PIES Personnel Information Exchange System
- PIF Pending issue file
- PLEP.L. Public Law
- PMC Pension Maintenance Center
- POA Power of attorney
- POW Prisoner-of-war
- PRC Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center
- PRES Presumption
- Presumption A legal term meaning that evidence of a nexus (connection) between a current medical condition and an in-service occurrence is required. A claimant currently suffering from a "presumptive condition" only needs to establish he or she experienced the specified in-service event at a specific date and that is is currently at least 10% disabling to be awarded service connection.
- PT Physical therapy
- PT Physical Training
- P&T Permanent total disability
- PTE Peace time era
- PTSD Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Pub. L. No. Public Law
- R.C. Regional counsel (the chief legal authority in a VARO)
- RAD Release from active duty
- Rating Decision The initial VA decision on a claim which either grants or denies an award or "continues" the claim for further development.
- Rating Schedule The table of medical conditions and disabilities established by law that VA raters use to determine the degree of disability for compensation purposes. Electronic CFR 38 Schedule of Ratings
- RE code Reenlistment code
- Remand Return of a decision to the organization that made it for additional review and revision. The Board remands rating decisions to the originating regional office. The Veterans Court remands Board decisions back to the Board.
- REPS Restored Entitlement Program for Survivors
- RH Insurance policy designation for veterans with service-connected disabilities
- RI Rating increase
- RMC Records Management Center
- RMO Records Management Officer
- RN Registered nurse
- RO Regional Office
- ROTC Reserve Officers' Training Corps
- RPC (VA) Records Processing Center (St. Louis)
- RSFPP Retired Services Family Protection Plan
- RVN Republic of Vietnam
- RVSR Rating Veterans Service Representative
- SBP Survivor Benefit Plan
- SBP-MIW Survivor Benefit Plan-Minimum Income Widow
- SC Service-connected
- SC Service-connected
- SDN Separation Designator Number
- SDRP Special Discharge Review Program
- SDVI Service Disabled Veterans' Insurance
- Secretary The Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Cabinet officer who is the administrative head of VA.
- Service Connection A requirement that a claimant for VA compensation must
- (1) have a current medical condition;
- (2) identify an event or condition during military service; and
- (3) establish a nexus or connection between the medical condition and the in-service event or condition.
- Without establishing service connection, VA will not award compensation benefits.
- SF Special forces
- SFW Shell fragment wound
- SGLI Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance
- SIRS Special Issue Rating System
- SMC Special Monthly Compensation. Additional compensation available to the most seriously disabled veterans for anatomical loss of limbs or loss of use of body parts, aid and attendance, and other special needs.
- SMifi Supplementary medical insurance benefit
- SMP Special monthly pension
- SMR Service medical record
- SN Service number
- SOC Statement of the Case. A document that VA must prepare and provide to a claimant who has submitted a timely Notice of Disagreement. The purpose of an SOC is to identify the facts and law VA used to reach the decision(s) with which the claimant disagrees.
- SPCM Special court-martial
- SPD Separation program designator
- SPN Separation program number
- SRD Schedule for Rating Disabilities
- SSA Social Security Administration
- SSB Special separation benefits
- SSDI Social Security Disability Income
- SSI Supplemental Security Income
- SSN Social Security Number
- SSOC Supplemental Statement of the Case
- STR Service treatment records
- STS Soft tissue sarcoma
- TAD Temporary active duty
- TBI Traumatic brain injury
- TCDD 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin
- TDIU Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability. A special rating that considers whether a claimant who does not meet the rating schedule requirements for 100% disability is still unable to work in a substantially gainful occupation. A TDIU award pays benefits at the 100% scheduler rate even though the actual rating percentage is less than 100%.
- TDRL Temporary Disability Retired List (uniformed service)
- TDY Temporary duty
- TIN Transaction Identification Number
- TPQ Third-party query
- U.S.C. United States Code
- U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated
- U.S.C.S. United States Code Service
- UCMJ Uniform Code of Military Justice
- UD Undesirable discharge
- UOTHC (Discharge) under other than honorable conditions
- US.C.S. United States Code Service
- USA U.S. Army
- USAF U.S. Air Force
- USASCRUR United States Armed Services Center for Research of Unit Records
- USCCAN United States Code Congressional and Administrative News
- USGLI United States Government Life Insurance
- USJSRRC United States Joint Service Records Research Center
- USMC U.S. Marine Corps
- USN U.S. Navy
- VA Department of Veterans Affairs (also used for old Veterans Administration)
- VA.GOVVA Website for all things VA https://www.va.gov/
- VACO VA Central Office
- VACOLS Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System
- VADEX VA Index
- VAF VA form
- VAGC VA General Counsel
- VAHAC VA Health Administration Center
- VAMC VA Medical Center
- VAOGC VA Office of the General Counsel
- VAOIG VA Office of the Inspector General
- VAOPC VA outpatient clinic
- VAR VA regulation
- VARO VA Regional Office
- VBA Veterans Benefits Administration
- VCAA Veterans Claims Assistance Act
- VD Venereal disease
- VEAP Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Educational Assistance Program
- Veterans Court Another common name for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. See also CAVC.
- VFW Veterans of Foreign Wars
- VGLI Veterans' Group Life Insurance
- VHA Veterans Health Administration
- VISN Veterans Integrated Service Network
- VJRA Veterans’ Judicial Review Act of 1988
- VLJ Veterans Law Judge. A member of the Board of Veterans' Appeals who hears appeals from claimants who disagree with a rating decision.
- VMLI Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance
- VONAPP VONAPP (Ebenefits)
- VRC Vocational rehabilitation counseling
- VSCM Veterans Service Center Manager
- VSM Vietnam Service Medal
- VSO Veterans service organization
- VSO Veterans service officer
- VSR Veterans Service Representative
- WRIISC War Related Illness and Injury Center
The date given on eBenefits is just an estimate. It will often change and is subject to go back and forth between steps, even back to gathering evidence. The claims process is very complex and often will not follow a strict timeline, even though you are given one.
There is no easy answer to that one. It all depends on your individual conditions and whether or not they can be service connected. Getting from 80 or 90 % to that 100% mark is even harder, since there is so little to work with. If you are unable to work (maintain gainful employment at over $12,060/year), look at filing for TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability)
Again, that is an individual answer and depends on a lot of different factors. If you are retired from the military than DFAS has to do an audit before backpay can be received and that process can take over 6 months. Most of the time backpay is payed within a few weeks after you receive your letter. In most cases, many people will see backpay hit before they ever even see their award letter.
NO. The actual award letter can only be obtained from the regional office or from the VSO that you have been working with. However, you can log on to eBenefits and generate a letter in the 'VA Letters' section that will tell you what your current % and monthly payment is. This is often how people find out about their claim before a letter is ever received. The letter does take 7-10 business days and many haven't even been getting them lately. Also, the 1 -800 # most often will not discuss your claim with you unless you have received your actual letter or its been past the 10 day mark.
very, very common.
Ebenefits goes down a lot for maintenance. It is nothing to be concerned about. It seems to be most often on weekends. If you continue to have a problem logging in than it is an individual account issue and you need to contact technical support for eBenefits at:
VA/DoD eBenefits Questions and Technical Issues
Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 8:00 pm ET.
Again, individual answer. I know I keep saying that. Truth is, there is no way of knowing how long your appeal may take. An average appeal is around 2-3 years and in many cases up to 5-7 years; and that’s just average. Many, many people have waited much, much longer. If you do not have a Board date consider filing using new evidence under RAMP->'Supplemental Claim'.
If you’ve filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for disability compensation or pension benefits, VA may ask you to go to an examination as part of the claim process. For disability compensation, this exam helps VA determine if you have a disability related to your military service or if your condition should receive an increased rating due to it worsening. In the case of pension claims, the exam documents the level of your disability. This is known as a VA claim exam or a compensation & pension (C&P) exam. C&P exams are free and considered part of the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) 'Duty to Assist' policy.
This exam is different from a regular medical appointment because the examiner won’t prescribe any medicine or treat you – for instance, you won’t receive a referral to a specialist. The examiner will only perform a medical review to identify or confirm any disabilities shared in your claim application. They will record the findings and provide them to a VA claims processor to complete the claim process.
No, not everyone will be requested to attend a VA exam. After you have applied for disability compensation and/or pension, you may receive a phone call or a letter from VA or a VA partner asking you to come to a claim exam, also known as a C&P exam. If you have claimed benefits based upon several disabilities, you may be asked to report for one or more exams so each disability can be reviewed by an appropriate examiner. This is a routine request. You may be asked to go to a VA medical center or a VA partner to complete the claim exams. Not every application for a benefit will require an exam; it depends on what medical evidence has been included with the application.
A VA medical center or a VA partner is responsible for contacting you about scheduling a claim exam. They may either mail you a letter with the date and time of your appointment(s) and/or call you to find a time that fits with your schedule. If you are receiving treatment at a VA medical center, make sure they have your current address, phone number and email information. The wrong information could cause your appointment letter to be delayed and not reach you in time.
It is a good idea to call and confirm the exam time(s) and locations to make sure you and VA or the VA partner have the correct appointment information. Use the phone number on your appointment letter or if you were called, use the phone number left by VA or the VA partner. If you don’t show up to your exam, you may have a longer wait to get your exam rescheduled; it could delay your claim; and/or your claim could be rated “as-is” (using only the information in your file).
If your scheduled exam date or time does not work with some other life event, immediately call the number provided and try to reschedule. Unless it is an emergency situation, try not to reschedule the exam the day before or on the day of the exam. Not responding to a phone or letter request for scheduling an exam or missing the exam could cause VA to delay its decision on your claim. Not showing up to your exam takes up an appointment time another Veteran could have used, and also could cause your claim to be rated “as-is” based only on the information in your application. Most facilities try to meet your requests (if possible) if you have a good reason for rescheduling your time and you give enough notice.
It is helpful to be at least 15 minutes early to your scheduled exam time, leaving enough time to arrive at the facility location where your exam will take place. Once you check in with the exam staff, they will be able to answer questions on how long you will have to wait. Many examiners will not perform your exam if you are late, as they will not have enough time to complete the required history and exam review and take care of other Veterans on their schedule.
Unlike a typical medical exam or other healthcare appointment you may have with VA, the claim exam will not give you any treatment or prescribe any medicine. The examiner’s job is to review your medical records related to your disability claim, including the claim file, also known as your c-file/e-file. The c-file typically includes medical treatment records from Department of Defense (DoD), your DoD personnel records, treatment records from your health care providers and any other documents submitted.
The amount of time the examiner spends with you during your exam depends on what conditions you claimed and if VA needs more information to make a decision. Following your exam, the examiner completes a report that includes an analysis of clinical test results, if any were performed. You have the right to request and receive copies of your test results by contacting your VA regional office. If the exam was done at a VA facility the results may be available online at MyHealtheVet website under 'Blue Button' in the 'Notes' section:
Each exam is different depending on the information and needs of each Veteran. Exams can range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more. The examiner may ask you questions, observe you, perform a limited physical exam or simply review your file with you. The time an examiner spends with you during your exam may appear brief, but remember, even if your visit is short, he or she is still carefully reviewing your claim. Examiners often spend an hour or more before or after your appointment reviewing your claim.
VA schedules the claim exam at the end of the “Information Gathering” stage, which is about 60% of the way through the claim decision process. After your exam, the examiner will complete a report that includes a review of the exam and any clinical test results. The examiner submits the report back to the VA regional office so it can be included within your c-file/e-file and they can continue processing your claim. VA will then perform a final review on your whole claim package, and make a decision on your claim.
The C&P Report is a significant factor in the VA's decision about whether or not to grant you benefits, but the VA will also consider all the medical evidence in your record and any DBQs (Disability Benefits Questionnaire) and nexus statements you may have submitted with your claim. DBQs are available online at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_disabilityexams.asp
No, the examiner is only involved in performing the exam and providing the results to the claims processor. They are not part of the rating process, and do not make the rating decisions. They will never know the outcome of your pending claim. Only a VA regional office can answer questions regarding rating decisions.
To get a claim status update, please go to eBenefits.va.gov or, if you are working with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative, contact them for a status update. You may also contact VA at 1-800-827-1000, and a contact representative will be pleased to answer your questions.
Yes, if you have any medical documents that were not previously sent to VA, you can bring them to your claim exam. However, the examiner may not be able to submit that information on your behalf. All new information can be uploaded through eBenefits.va.gov, submitted to your accredited VSO representative, or mailed to VA using the appropriate address found here - http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/mailingaddresses.asp. Ideally, you should submit all of your medical evidence with your claim application or before of your claim exam so the examiner doing your exam has the most complete picture of your health status.
Yes, at your request and the approval of the examiner, family members, caregivers, and significant others may be allowed to join you during an exam, but may not participate in and/or interfere with the exam. Service animals are also permitted. The request must come from the Veteran without prompting. Family members are part of the PACT (Patient Aligned Care Team) for healthcare but not necessarily for benefits and C&P exams.
If you were unable to attend your exam and did not contact VA in advance, your appointment will be considered a “no show.” You will have to request a new exam appointment by calling 1-800-827-1000. If you fail to show up to any claim or C&P exam(s), it is likely that your claim decision will be delayed while VA tries to reschedule your exam. Your claim could also be rated “as-is” (using only the current information in your file). It is very helpful to make sure that both the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest to you have your current address, phone number, and email information. This will help make sure VA can communicate with you about any need for a claim exam appointment. It is also a good idea to call and confirm the exam time(s) and location(s) that you have received to make sure you and VA have the correct appointment information.
Yes, if you are scheduled for a claim exam or C&P exam, you can request travel reimbursement. Mileage is calculated from your door to the exam facility. Your travel pay request will be submitted to the beneficiary travel office. Contact the C&P Office if you need overnight accommodations.
Think of the claim exam, or C&P exam, as a medical review. Unlike a typical medical exam or other healthcare appointment you may have with VA, an examiner will not provide you any treatment, make any referrals to other medical providers or prescribe any medicine. Depending on the information in your claim file, such as medical documents from current providers, and completed Disability Benefit Questionnaires (DBQs), the examiner will determine what additional questions and information are needed to confirm your health status and complete the exam. In some instances, your file may be so complete that only a few follow up questions may be needed. Know that your case is being carefully reviewed and VA’s decision will not depend on the length of your exam visit.
The in-person part of your claim exam is only one part of what examiners do as part of their evaluation. They also typically spend more than an hour before or after appointments reviewing claims files to ensure they are providing the most complete and accurate reviews possible. All of the supporting documents that you provide to support your claim play an important part in the examiner’s report.
If you have a question about what is happening during your claim exam, you should feel comfortable asking the examiner about what he or she is doing and what you can expect during your visit. Keep in mind they are medical experts who are following up on the medical information you provided in your claim application. Neither VA examiners nor VA partner examiners are involved in rating your claim. They are not always familiar with the full claim process and cannot tell you when a decision will be made. All claims-related questions should be directed to the VA regional office nearest you.
If you attend your claim exam and have a negative experience with a VA examiner or a VA partner examiner, VA encourages you to share feedback immediately. You may go to the C&P exam supervisor within a VA medical center or the supervisor within the VA partner facility, reach out to the VA patient advocate at your closest VA medical facility, or call the number on your original appointment letter. It is helpful to write out a statement of concern that can be submitted as part of your claim file. Share concerns immediately. Do not wait until your claim decision has been made. This will help ensure any issues are handled as quickly as possible.
VA awards disability compensation when the claim file shows three things:
1. Current diagnosis of a disability
2. Record of an event that happened during military service that could have resulted in the disability
3. An opinion that the disability is related to military service, also called a “nexus opinion”
If the first two items are clearly shown in your claim application, that’s when the C&P exam process comes in. If you did not submit enough information with your claim application to show that you have a current diagnosis of a disability or that an event occurred in military service that may have caused the disability, there is no need for VA to schedule a claim exam to get a nexus opinion to tie the two events together. Make sure you submit all relevant military and treatment records as part of your claim application.
VA may use contractors or VA partners who are medical experts with experience working with Veterans to speed up the claim process. They support the timelier scheduling of claim exams and evidence gathering in support of your claim. You may get scheduled for a claim exam with a VA partner. They follow the same HIPAA policies as VA, so you are guaranteed that your privacy is protected.
The exam is performed at the expense of VA and, just as if the exam was done at a VA medical center, the exam is used in the claim decision process for disability compensation or pension benefits. The medical facilities that work with VA are bound by the same rules and privacy laws as VA, so you can be sure your exam can be trusted and all of your information is secure and will be shared directly with VA.
VA recommends you work with an accredited representative, such as a VSO, to help guide you through the entire claims process. These representatives can help you gather evidence in support of your claim, help file your claim and address issues as you move through the claim decision process. You can search for a representative on eBenefits, https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search.
Don’t exaggerate your symptoms, but don’t diminish them either. When the doctor asks you questions, be truthful. Explain to the doctor exactly how your symptoms impact your life. This can be uncomfortable, since this will be your first visit with the doctor, but it is important to your claim that you be as open and honest as possible. Even if you feel frustrated by the questions or have a personal dislike of the doctor, be courteous.
Usually the VA does send the claims file to the doctor in advance of the exam, but sometimes the agency neglects to. If the VA doctor hasn't received the records, he or she may not even be sure of the reason for your visit. If this happens, tell the doctor you’ve been treated at the VA, and the doctor should be able to pull up your records on the computer. However, the doctor won't have any access to private treatment records if you have seen doctor’s outside the VA. And the doctor won't see any statements about your disability that you have submitted to the VA Regional Office.
Always submit all evidence PRIOR to the C&P exam. In fact, you should have submitted all evidence when you filed your claim. This includes DBQs (Disability Benefits Questionnaire's), medical opinions (nexus statements), logs (headache, Meniere’s, blood pressure, etc.), personal statement, spouse’s statement, Social Security Disability exams and determinations and other medical evidence you may have. Having all this submitted will provide the examiner the opportunity to review all pertinent information before the exam itself.
It is advisable to bring your latest DBQs (Disability Benefits Questionnaire's), medical opinions (nexus statements), logs (headache, Meniere’s, blood pressure, etc.), personal statement, spouse’s statement and other medical evidence. The C&P exam may have informed you to not bring anything to the exam. However, sometimes your evidence is not readily available to the examiner and having yours with you may help.
If you live far away from a VA Medical Center, the VA may send you to a private physician. In that case, if the VA doesn’t send over your records, the doctor will not be able to access your treatment information on the computer at all. The Compensation and Pension exam will then have to be rescheduled. This is because a C&P report is considered inadequate by the VA Regional Office unless the doctor has reviewed the claims file.
If you need the use of a cane, walker or other assistive device, did you explain that in your personal statement and take that to your C&P exam and every time you see your doctors? Do you use a shopping cart to hold yourself up when shopping? Do you have a brace, TENS unit or eStem and did you wear them for the exam and every time you see your doctors? Did you explain to your doctors and C&P examiner and in your personal statement how you manage your rated conditions...meditation, exercise, acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy (even self administered), Tai Chi? When going to any appointment, remember that the appointment starts at your driveway and ends at your driveway. You do not want a video of you skipping down the road after your exam! ;-)