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    Tips on posting on the forums.

    1. Post a clear title like ‘Need help preparing PTSD claim’ or “VA med center won’t schedule my surgery instead of ‘I have a question.
       
    2. Knowledgeable people who don’t have time to read all posts may skip yours if your need isn’t clear in the title.
      I don’t read all posts every login and will gravitate towards those I have more info on.
       
    3. Use paragraphs instead of one massive, rambling introduction or story.
       
      Again – You want to make it easy for others to help. If your question is buried in a monster paragraph, there are fewer who will investigate to dig it out.
     
    Leading too:

    exclamation-point.pngPost straightforward questions and then post background information.
     
     
    Examples:
     
    • Question A. I was previously denied for apnea – Should I refile a claim?
      • Adding Background information in your post will help members understand what information you are looking for so they can assist you in finding it.
    Rephrase the question: I was diagnosed with apnea in service and received a CPAP machine, but the claim was denied in 2008. Should I refile?
     
    • Question B. I may have PTSD- how can I be sure?
      • See how the details below give us a better understanding of what you’re claiming.
    Rephrase the question: I was involved in a traumatic incident on base in 1974 and have had nightmares ever since, but I did not go to mental health while enlisted. How can I get help?
     
    This gives members a starting point to ask clarifying questions like “Can you post the Reasons for Denial of your claim?”
     
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    • Your first posts on the board may be delayed before they appear as they are reviewed. The review requirement will usually be removed by the 6th post. However, we reserve the right to keep anyone on moderator preview.
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

VA Compensation and Pension Exams – Do’s and Don’t


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A Guideline for your VA compensation and pension exam.

This is a good guideline for all VA Compensation and Pension Exams. However, the author only performed psychiatric compensation and pension exams. A little common sense and clarity will go a long way. Above all, be honest. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. If you don’t know, say so. This is nearly a no-brainer but be honest. Don’t embellish your stories with fanciful tales. Just the facts, please. 

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This person is going to judge you. It’s their job, and that is why you are there. To be adjudicated fairly. How would you like to be remembered? A skuzzy stereotypical veteran? Or a troubled one who is doing the best they can?” – Steve A. Neff MSW 
 
Do not talk about alcohol or drug-related issues. You are not there to be assessed for those problems. You are there to be evaluated for your psychiatric (or physical) functioning as it is today and how it relates to your service history. If the examiner asks about alcohol or drugs, politely remind them that you are not there for those issues. It is for how impaired you are in your daily functioning. It’s best to avoid even talking about drugs or alcohol. If they are not part of the claim.
 
Got a VA horror story? I can tell you a worse one. Don’t waste your time with how badly you believe you’ve been mistreated. The examiner only has a short time to figure out how impaired you are, and they need the facts. They need concise sentences and not incoherent rambling rants that lead nowhere.
 
Answer the questions to the best of your ability. If you don’t know, say so. This is nearly a no-brainer but be honest. Don’t embellish your stories with fanciful tales. 
 
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The examiner only has a short time to figure out how impaired you are, and they need the facts. They need concise sentences and not incoherent rambling rants that lead nowhere.
 
Be able to document everything you tell the examiner. 
 
If possible, have the following;
  • Letters from people you served with
  • Copies of incident reports
  • Self-reported incidents include place, time, team members, etc.
  • Letters to and from family members (Family member letters usually don’t add much weight to your case because families are there to support you, and examiners understand that.)
  • Be Honest. You may run into an examiner who checks stories out. 

 

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"Be Honest. You may run into an examiner who checks stories out. "

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If sleep is a problem, don’t sleep the night before. Go in on the ragged edge of tired out. But do your best not to be rude and insensitive. Payback in a VA Compensation and Pension exam is you lose. Not all examiners are that way, but I have met a few that should not have been examiners.
 
When responding to examiners, you need to pick the worst moment relating to that question. You need to be rated for the worst times you have had. I always chose an awful day and related all of my answers to that day. The day I could not sleep, was anxious and startled easily, was grouchy to my wife and friends, felt like my heart was coming out of my chest, and nothing went right for me. 
 
That day should have been in the last 30-90 days. If it was a year ago, you might not need to be having this exam. The questions you are being asked are on a script in front of the examiner. After examiners do this for a while, they get a sense of what is in front of them.  Currently the Examiner will use a Disability Benefits Questionnaire. It is intended that the DBQs will be completed by the Veteran’s health care provider. You can read through the DBQs here.
 
 
It’s not too difficult to determine when someone is lying or is struggling with memory. The above does not mean that examiners cannot be scammed because they can be.
 
What to Expect during the Medical Examination
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You should expect the VA Compensation and Pension examiner performing your medical examination to evaluate the condition(s) listed on your claim for benefits.
 
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You should expect the examiner performing your medical examination to evaluate the condition(s) listed on your claim for benefits. Depending on the number and type of disabilities claimed, the length of the VA Compensation and Pension Exams will vary. Psychiatric examination or for multiple disabilities requires more time to evaluate. If necessary, the examiner may ask more questions about your disability history, review pertinent medical records, or order additional testing or examinations.
 
I discovered veterans lying and dealt with them by reporting this to the proper authorities at the VA. It’s a Federal criminal act to lie to gain monetary compensation. And the odds are you will be prosecuted. It simply isn’t worth it.
 
Examiners are generally good people trying to do a tough job. Make it easy for them. I always advocated having the individual’s husband/wife in the room with me during the exam. As an examiner, I enjoyed having someone’s spouse with them. Husbands and wives can tell the truth much better than the veteran. Ask your wife how well you’ve done in the past ten days rather than basing it on your opinion. Quite a dramatic difference if you are truthful!
 
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Remember to report how you REALLY are doing and not how you’d like to be doing. One of the questions I always had a hard time asking was, “How are you doing today?” Most veterans want to be doing MUCH better than they really are. It’s like we know we can be doing better and have done better, but our pride does not want to let anyone know how badly we are doing. Veterans would answer the above question: “Well, I’m doing pretty good.” Should I write, “The veteran reports that he is doing pretty good?” Not if you want your claim adjudicated fairly.
 
The best answer I ever got from a veteran was from a former Marine Vietnam Veteran who said,
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“If I’m here, I can’t be doing very well now, can I? I haven’t been able to sleep for the past ten days over worrying about this exam. My wife says I’m really grumpy, and the bill collectors call all the time.”

 
  • Be on time or a little early
  • Be polite. Yelling at the examiner for the injustices you perceive will do nothing but alienate them.
  • Curse at your own risk. You can get your point across better with proper English.
 
This veteran just told me he couldn’t sleep due to anxiety, the heart of PTSD, and was depressed (remember grumpy?), another key facet of PTSD. He’s had problems with his work history if he can’t pay his bills. He wasn’t angry about what he said. He was so matter of fact it took me a bit to realize what he had said. He could have been talking about having a cup of coffee for all of the emotions he expressed.
 
These are things I can explore further with the veteran. I don’t have to hunt or pull teeth for information. This veteran controlled the exam because he knew clearly about his problems and what he wanted to say. I spent some extra time with him. He ended up 100% service-connected for PTSD. He had his ducks in a row, paperwork all present. He had done enough clinical work before the exam that he knew his problems and, more importantly, how to express them to another person.
 

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