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VA Suspends All In-Person C&P Exams

Published on April 10th, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA is putting in place social distancing measures of its own, including the suspension of all in-person Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations. This decision will reduce infection rates among veterans and VA medical staff. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that your disability claim will grind to a halt. VA ratings decision staff are working remotely and may be able to arrange for a virtual C&P exam. In any event, you can still submit medical evidence on your claim from your medical care provider or other factual evidence to support your claim.

At Jackson & MacNichol, we are closely monitoring how the coronavirus crisis is affecting your access to veterans benefits. While the system is currently experiencing some delays, it is still possible to file or to dispute a disability claim. If you wait for the situation to return to normal before filing your claim, you could miss out on back pay. But if you file now, you can lock down an earlier effective date for the receipt of your benefits. For a free consultation with a veterans benefits lawyer about the disability appeals process, call us today at 1(800) 524-3339.

The VA Encourages Veterans to Undergo Virtual C&P Exams

Effective April 2, 2020, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) placed a temporary hold on in person C&P exams, and any other in-person medical exams that don’t qualify as an emergency. On April 7, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) announced that it was officially suspending in-person C&P exams until further notice. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may qualify for two possible alternatives to an in-person C&P examination.

One alternative is an Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) examination, where the VA medical staff completes the disability benefits questionnaire based only on the medical evidence already in your record — although the examiner may call you on the phone to fill in the gaps. The other alternative is the tele C&P exam, in which the examiner conducts the examination via teleconference. Usually reserved for claims based on mental health conditions, this option requires that you have access to the Internet.

C&P exams scheduled by the VHA may be conducted virtually through telehealth. The benefits portion of the VA (the VBA), can opt for either ACE (a medical review of records) or a virtual C&P from the VHA or an outside contractor. However, you may not be eligible to have a virtual C&P exam if your condition requires a face-to-face examination. If you need an in-person C&P exam, you may have no choice but to wait until the government lifts social distancing requirements.

The C&P exam is just one aspect of the medical evidence that the VA needs to process your claim. Statements from private treatment providers are especially valuable because they are generally more familiar with your condition than a one time examiner because they have been following you for an extended period of time. In some cases, the medical evidence in your file may be complete enough that a C&P exam is not necessary for the VA to make a decision on your claim and the ACE file review process will be sufficient.

How a Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Help

If you disagree with your rating decision, you can appeal by requesting a higher level review, submitting additional evidence with a supplemental claim, or by filing Form 10182, sending your case directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) for a formal appeal. The most appropriate option for you depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. At Jackson & MacNichol, we can determine what review option is best for you, and then take the steps necessary to help your appeal to succeed. For a free consultation about your appeal, call us today at 1(800) 524-3339.


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