As an injured veteran, you know you’ll have several steps to complete before receiving VA disability benefits. But did you know that retaining an attorney can greatly increase your chances of receiving the full benefits that you deserve?
You might not think to consult a disability attorney before diving into the tall stack of VA disability paperwork you’ll need to complete for your application, especially if you are edging toward career retirement. However, working with a legal team for advice, guidance, and consultation can make a huge difference between being awarded a low-level percentage of disability or being awarded a higher level.
Preparing for your C&P exam--short for compensation and pension exam--is a great example of how you can benefit from legal advice when you’re not even sure that you need it. A VA disability attorney can help you articulate your injuries to your doctor in your C&P exam that fully explains your level of disability and how it pertains to your military service.
What is a C&P Exam?
A C&P exam is performed by a VA physician or contracted physician who will evaluate and document the current severity of your condition or injury under consideration for disability. This exam may be very short -- only 15 minutes for some -- but has long-lasting consequences when it comes to the amount of benefits you may receive.
Usually, only one C&P exam is necessary to determine your level of disability. However, if you have specific injuries or conditions related to your hearing, vision, or a dental or psychological condition, you may need additional C&P exams with a specialist. This additional exam is a VA disability requirement for receiving benefits for those conditions.
If, like most, you have one opportunity with your VA physician or a contracted physician to explain and show how your injury affects your day-to-day life, it’s important to prepare for the exam so that you are sure to alert the doctor to the most important details regarding your injury or condition.
How Do I Prepare for a C&P Exam?
First, you may want to see your general practitioner for a thorough examination specifically tailored to discussing the limitations in your daily life caused by your injuries. If you feel in any way that you’ll need medical proof to refute the potential results of the C&P exam, the best place to start is the medical opinion of a doctor who knows you well and has treated you previously for your injury or condition.
For example, the easiest way to prove your disability rating is to have a direct connection to your service. If you were injured by a bad fall during active duty and can prove, through your medical records, that the onset of your treatment for that injury began after the event, you may not need to have the backup of another physician for your C&P exam. However, if your back pain is the result of the exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, you may want another physician’s opinion before stepping into your C&P exam.
Make sure you bring the following documents with you:
- Complete medical history
- Specific doctor’s reports and test results regarding the injuries in question
In addition, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the VA Disability Rating so that you understand exactly what’s at stake with the severity of your injuries as it relates to the level of disability benefits you’ll eventually receive.
Having back pain isn’t enough to receive a disability rating from the VA. You’ll also need to prove that it’s service related--either directly, presumed, or secondarily related to your time in the military.
What Happens During the C&P Exam?
First, be open and honest as to exactly how your injury affects your daily life. It may have served you well during active duty to say, “I’m fine,” but at this point in your career it’s extremely important to tell the physician about your pain, limitations, and ability to function normally each day.
During this exam, the doctor will complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). This document is extremely important, and insures that the physician properly rates your condition. Keep in mind that there are over 70 DBQs, each relating to specific injuries and conditions. So if you have a heart condition and also a bum knee, you’ll need more than one DBQ to properly document your condition to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve.
Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Often veterans trust the system to a fault. The military has taken care of you for your entire career, and rightly so. However, when it comes to the long-term care you deserve for your injury or condition, they system often seems to be set up to say “no”, rather than to say “yes”. A VA disability attorney can thoroughly and accurately explain your rights to you when it comes to VA disability, and can offer strong legal advice as it pertains to receiving the benefits you deserve. Only you can decide whether you need legal advice before, during, or after you go through the process of seeking VA disability. Keep in mind that case evaluations are free, and the right VA disability attorney is only paid if you win your case.
At Affleck and Gordon, helping veterans receive their disability benefits is a primary area of practice. Serving Metro Atlanta and the greater Columbus area, the attorneys with Affleck and Gordon care for their veteran clients and assist them with problems that arise with their VA disability claim.
If your VA disability claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for decades. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.