A Compensation and Pension, or C&P, exam assists the VA in determining the severity of a veteran’s medical condition and how it relates to their service in the military. These exams directly impact the amount of compensation a veteran could receive through the VA and are one of the most crucial appointments a veteran must attend to when filing a claim. Although there is no specific set time for when the VA orders these examinations, they usually occur after a Veteran has filed for a new claim, or whenever the VA needs more competent medical evidence to determine a claim. You can learn more about how to prepare for the C&P examination process here.
After your C&P exam, the VA will review the examiner’s report and decide if the VA’s duty to assist has been fulfilled and if the VA has enough evidence to determine your claim. If it is ready to decide your claim, the VA could theoretically make its decision within days of receiving the examination report. If the VA still needs more evidence, it may send the Veteran a request for additional evidence. The VA may also either ask the examiner for clarification or even order a whole new examination. Sometimes an examination report shows new or unforeseen conditions, which may prompt the VA to order additional examinations. This process could last anywhere from months to more than a year, depending upon the complexity of the condition(s) and the needed testing and examinations. It is important that the Veteran answer any requests for additional information the VA may send, even if the Veteran has already provided this information to the VA in the past.
The claim status also can have a big effect on the time it takes for the VA to render a decision after a C&P examinations has been completed. If the Veteran has filed an initial claim, the wait between the C&P exam and the VA’s decision usually runs on the shorter end of the scale. If the claim is in appeal, the wait time between the C&P exam and the VA’s decision could be significantly longer. This is because there is generally a higher level of oversight during an appeal (to make sure the VA gets it right) and the VA has more steps to go through before issuing another decision on that same claim.
COVID-19 and the VA Disability Benefits Backlog
It is important to note that the standard wait time for VA disability benefits may be longer than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted governmental functionalities nationwide, and, unfortunately, the VA disability benefits process has seen significant delays. Last year, the Veteran Benefits Administration backlog was double the usual amount due to the unprecedented stress of the pandemic. This has resulted in more Veterans waiting on their benefits than ever before. Fortunately, as COVID cases decline and the economic impact begins to subside, the waiting time for benefits may improve.