V.A. to Vets: Standby…We Will Get You an Examination Sometime…Maybe
VA’s latest tactic in trying to placate veterans is ending an email about VA examinations in their disability compensation claim. The generic email starts out…”You’ve submitted your compensation or pension claim to VA or have been scheduled for an exam; do you know what’s next?” It is clear that the email is designed to be sent to anyone that has an exam scheduled…or may have one scheduled! It is nothing more than a generic email with some blah-blah to give the veteran the illusion that something is being done on their claim while they wait and wait for months as VA does nothing.
So what is a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Examination?
Under federal statute, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a duty to provide veterans with an examination in some VA disability compensation claims. The law – 38 U.S.C. 5103(a)(d), states:
(d) Medical examinations for compensation claims.–(1) In the case of a claim for disability compensation, the assistance provided by the Secretary under subsection (a) shall include providing a medical examination or obtaining a medical opinion when such an examination or opinion is necessary to make a decision on the claim.
The requirement is part of what is called VA’s “duty to assist” the veteran to help develop the claim. This duty recognizes that a veteran may not know what information or have all of the information necessary to prove they are entitled to VA disability benefits.
So, if a veteran has some evidence that he or she has a current condition and they explain (or someone else explains) that the condition may be related to military service, it triggers the VA’s duty to provide a C&P exam.
Getting VA’s email does not mean you get an exam…but you may ask for one!
Nothing stops veterans from asking for a VA C&P exam. VA examiners are often unfriendly and may not take the time that a private doctor. If you cannot afford a private doctor, a VA C&P is better than no exam. However, you will almost always be better off with a private doctor who will take the time to be thorough and consider all of your evidence.