Comp & Pen Exams: What You Need to Know

ROB LEVINE, VETERANS DISABILITY LAWYER

AN OVERVIEW OF COMP & PEN EXAMS

Throughout the course of your initial claim or appeal, the VA may order you to go to a Compensation & Pension (Comp & Pen) exam. The VA orders these exams to obtain an opinion about the cause and severity of your condition. These exams can be conducted either at the VA or by a contract examiner (a private company like LHI, VES, or QTC), and last anywhere between 10 minutes to multiple hours.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Getting a favorable opinion from a Comp & Pen exam is the key to your case! A favorable opinion (often called a positive “nexus”) can provide you with the medical evidence you need to service-connect most claims.

Unsurprisingly, the VA usually falls short in providing an adequate exam. A lot of examiners fail to review your file, spend enough time with you to properly evaluate your symptoms, or make unfair assumptions about your medical history.

Here are some things you need to know to maximize your chances of getting a positive nexus from any examiner listed below.

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GENERALLY,

  • The examiner will be observing you very closely, including your body language and tone of voice.
  • Do not assume that the examiner has fully reviewed your claims file. It is your job to educate them on the cause and severity of your disabilities.
  • Remember that “a closed mouth never gets fed,” or “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Be honest and detailed about what happened to you in service as well as your symptoms.

FOR MENTAL HEALTH EXAMS

  • When the examiner asks you “how are you doing,” that is a question about your current mental state! Do not say “fine” or “good” if that’s not the case.
  • Be detailed about the in-service stressor that caused your mental health condition. Give dates, locations, people involved (if you remember the names), and the circumstances of the stressor.
  • If applicable, be sure to emphasize that you were in good health prior to service and that you’ve consistently had mental health symptoms since your in-service stressor.

FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH EXAMS

  • Most physical exams involve the measurement of your joints’ range of motion. Make sure:
    • You STOP immediately when the movement becomes painful. The point that you begin to feel pain is where the examiner should document the end of your range of motion.
  • Be detailed about the specific in-service injury that caused your physical condition, or how your MOS caused your disability over time. Give dates, locations, and the circumstances of the injury.
  • If applicable, be sure to emphasize that you were in good health prior to service and that you’ve consistently had physical symptoms since your in-service injury.

After the exam, the examiner will draft a report that will be uploaded to your claims file. Be sure to get a copy of that report! Call the VA Benefits Hotline (800-827-1000) to request a mailed copy.

FAQs About Your

VA Disability Claim

What does a Veterans Disability lawyer do?
An effective attorney can put you in a position to win your appeal the first time around, saving you years of disappointment and frustration. Veterans’ claims often get caught in a cycle of denial, appeal, remand, denial, appeal, remand, denial, appeal, remand, and so on. An experienced attorney can effectively present the law and the facts to the VA the first time around, which in many instances gets veterans their disability benefits faster. When you choose our dedicated team of experts at Rob Levine & Associates to represent you, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach to win your case. As part of our proven process, our team will:
  • File your appeal with the VA;
  • Construct a personalized evidence development plan tailored to each claim;
  • Perform cutting-edge service record and medical research;
  • Draft a comprehensive legal brief in support of your appeal; and
  • Routinely follow up with you to provide an update on the status of your case.
Where do you provide services?
The fully accredited attorneys at Rob Levine & Associates represent veterans nationwide. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
544 Douglas Ave
Providence RI 02908
Can you help me file initial claims?
Yes! At Rob Levine & Associates, our team is committed to assisting veterans at all stages of the VA disability process. Our claims advocates will interview you, determine all possible benefits to which you are entitled, and file initial claims at no cost to you. If you win your initial claims, there is no fee for our services. We are only paid if your case requires an appeal that is later won.
Can I receive VA disability compensation and continue to work?
In the Social Security disability system, in order to receive benefits, the standard is, "you are not capable of any form of gainful employment.” Unlike Social Security Disability, you can work while receiving VA disability compensation. Your VA disability benefits is based on how your service-connected disabilities impact your ability to work.
Can I receive VA disability compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time?
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) does not have a barrier to net worth or income provisions. Regardless of the home, the vehicle you own, or investments you've made - or alimony or pension from previous employment, this would not prohibit you from receiving SSDI. Similarly, this would not prohibit you from qualifying and receiving VA disability benefits. Even if you were to qualify for a 100% TDIU rating, you would still qualify for SSDI benefits either under the SSDI guidelines or the VA Disability guidelines.
How long will the VA take to decide my disability case?
The average length of time to adjudicate any claim or appeal depends on many factors, including the type of appeal or claim, the Regional Office, the number of disabilities to decide, any necessary development, and the overall complexity of the case. Cases in the VA’s legacy appeal system can take years. In contrast, the VA has set the following timeliness goal for adjudicating AMA appeals:
  • Supplemental Claims: within 125 days
  • Higher Level Review: within 125 days
  • Board of Veterans’ Appeals – Direct Review Docket: within 365 days
  • Board of Veterans’ Appeals – Evidence and Hearing Docket: over 365 days

Veteran Disability Applying for VA disability benefits can involve a mountain of paperwork, complex appeal deadlines, and time-consuming medical examinations. 5 SECRETS TO WIN

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