After you file your claim for a mental health issue, the VA is most certainly going to schedule you for a Compensation and Pension examination – C&P exam. Here are 7 tips on how to prepare for your C&P exam.
First, you have to make sure you’ll be there! You’re probably reading this and thinking: “of course I’ll be there!” What happens is that Veterans usually receive a written notice of the C&P exam a couple days before the exam. In some cases, Veterans report that they didn’t receive the notice in time. If you didn’t receive and ended up missing the appointment, you can submit a letter to the VA explaining what happened. Missing the exam will probably impact your disability claim in a negative way, so pay attention, get the notice, and attend the appointment!
Prepare for your C&P exam
The C&P exam is just like any other exam out there – in order to do well on it, you need to prepare for it! You’re probably thinking: “how do I prepare for it?” Here’s what you can do:
- Make a list of ALL your symptoms, how often you feel them, and how they impact your daily life.
- Have your spouse, husband, and/or friend help you with this list. They might remember and notice stuff that you don’t.
- Also, bring this person to the C&P exam. They might remember important symptoms and facts.
Don’t dress up
Don’t use your best dress, suit, or shoes for your C&P exam. The impression you cause directly affects your report’s outcome. If you mention that you don’t feel motivated and deal with a low self-esteem and then you dress like you’re going to your wedding, it might be perceived as you’re exaggerating your symptoms.
Don’t devalue your Symptoms
As warriors we’re used to be strong, to suck it up, and to move on. However, on your C&P exam, you need to speak up! You’re not fine, you’re not ok. If you were fine and ok, you weren’t be filing for a disability. Remember why you’re there! That’s why we recommend you to bring someone.
It’s pretty common to see C&P exams where the examiner alleges that the veteran is exaggerating his or her symptoms. Even if that’s not the case, if an examiner believes you’re exaggerating, it may affect your report. If you’re suffering from one disorder and you give symptoms of another one, the examiner might think your real symptoms are not real.
We tend to downplay our symptoms because we were trained to do so. That’s why you should bring someone. We recommend you bring your spouse, loved one, or friend. In case you didn’t get it, here is why:
Examiner: “Do you feel depressed?”
Your Spouse: “SOMETIMES? Are you serious?! What about when you spend two days in your room with no sunlight?! Tell him about all those times when you don’t get out our bed for two days! What about when you are around friends and you don’t say A SINGLE WORD!…”
Your friends and family can clearly see how your symptoms are affecting your life.
Don’t act like lawyers
Don’t argue, cite, and discuss VA ratings. Most of the times the examiner will get annoyed with you. Keep in mind that the examiner is not the decision-maker, he/she is just there to examine you… but the results of the exam do matter so be polite.