For veterans seeking to gain service connection for their disability with the VA disability compensation system, many will need to undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. The VA uses these exams to evaluate the veteran’s impairment to determine (1) if the veteran’s condition is service connected and (2) the severity of the impairment for schedular disability rating purposes. Starting in 2014, the VA began to outsource many of these exams to contracted medical companies. In 2016, the VA announced that it would be awarding $6.8 billion in contracts to the following firms to conduct C&P exams for veterans:
- VetFed Resources, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia;
- Logistics Health, Inc., La Crosse, Wisconsin;
- Medical Support Los Angeles, A Medical Corporation, Pasadena, CA;
- QTC Medical Services, Inc., Diamond Bar, California; and
- Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc., Houston, Texas.
The VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center based in Maryland manages these contracts. As of 2020, prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA had outsourced nearly 75 percent of its C&P exams to the above contractors. Recently, it has been reported that 90 percent of C&P exams are now conducted by private-sector contractors, and VA officials are currently pushing for contractors to conduct 100 percent of C&P exams within the next year.
What Does This Mean For Veterans?
When the VA contracts out its C&P exams, it tends to underpay examiners. Because of this, C&P exams completed by contracted examiners tend to be done at a lower quality than those VA physicians conduct. The VA’s lack of oversight regarding these contracted exams also contributes to this problem. Contracted examiners tend to do an incomplete file review before C&P exams, will rush veterans through the exam, and may not listen to veterans fully when they are describing their symptoms. Due to the poor quality of these contracted examinations, there are several things veterans should keep in mind in order to get the most accurate C&P results:
- Answer every question the doctor asks concisely and clearly.
- Repeat the answer multiple times if needed to make sure the examiner understands and hears you.
- Use every question as an opportunity to get the most important information on record.
- Be the most accurate representation of yourself and your condition as possible. Do not leave any chance for the examiner to interpret ambiguous information about your symptoms.
C&P exams are overwhelming for many veterans because of the feelings and memories they tend to bring up, but it is important that veterans continue to attend any C&P exams the VA schedules for them. Receiving a “no-show” label for any unattended exams can hurt a veteran’s claim or lead to a longer decision-making process for the VA.
Get Help With Your VA Disability Claim
If you are a veteran seeking assistance with your VA claim, our experienced veterans disability attorneys are ready to help. We have years of experience helping veterans with disability claims get the compensation they deserve for their condition. Please contact our office today for a free claim evaluation.