FAQs

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When the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Coast Guard upgrades a Veteran’s discharge, it usually issues a DD215 showing corrections to the DD214. The DoD or the Coast Guard attaches the DD215 to the old DD214—which still shows the outdated discharge and related information. While the discharge on the DD215 is the correct discharge, a Veteran may still want a new DD214 that shows no record of their earlier characterization of discharge. If you have a DD215 and want an updated DD214, click the Get Started button above. On the next page, select: “I received a discharge upgrade or correction,
You’re eligible for VA benefits at the end of a period of honorable service, even if you didn’t receive a discharge in the form of a DD214. If you completed your original contract period without any disciplinary problems, you can use this period of service to establish your eligibility, even if you re-enlisted or extended your service and did not receive an “honorable” DD214 at the end of your second period of service. If you completed a period of honorable service that’s not reflected on a DD214, make sure you specifically mention this period of service when you apply for VA benefits. We may
If the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Coast Guard determined you served honorably in one period of service, you may use that honorable characterization to establish eligibility for VA benefits, even if you later received a less than honorable discharge. You earned your benefits during the period in which you served honorably. Make sure you specifically mention your period of honorable service when applying for VA benefits. Note: The only exception is for service-connected disability compensation. You’re only eligible to earn disability compensation for disabilities you suffered during a
If your previous upgrade application was denied, you can apply again, but you may have to follow a different process. Click the Get Started button above. When you’re asked if you’ve applied before, select Yes. After you’ve answered all the questions, you’ll see application instructions specific to your situation. Applying again is most likely to be successful if your application is significantly different from when you last applied. For example, you may have additional evidence that wasn’t available to you when you last applied, or the Departent of Defense (DoD) may have issued new rules
Even with a less than honorable discharge, you may be able to access some VA benefits through the Character of Discharge review process. When you apply for VA benefits, we’ll review your record to determine if your service was “honorable for VA purposes.” This review can take up to a year. Please provide us with documents supporting your case, similar to the evidence you’d send with an application to upgrade your discharge. You may want to consider finding someone to advocate on your behalf, depending on the complexity of your case. A lawyer or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) can collect
Usually the VA does send the claims file to the doctor in advance of the exam, but sometimes the agency neglects to. If the VA doctor hasn't received the records, he or she may not even be sure of the reason for your visit. If this happens, tell the doctor you’ve been treated at the VA, and the doctor should be able to pull up your records on the computer. However, the doctor won't have any access to private treatment records if you have seen doctor’s outside the VA. And the doctor won't see any statements about your disability that you have submitted to the VA Regional Office. Always submit
Don’t exaggerate your symptoms, but don’t diminish them either. When the doctor asks you questions, be truthful. Explain to the doctor exactly how your symptoms impact your life. This can be uncomfortable, since this will be your first visit with the doctor, but it is important to your claim that you be as open and honest as possible. Even if you feel frustrated by the questions or have a personal dislike of the doctor, be courteous.
VA recommends you work with an accredited representative, such as a VSO, to help guide you through the entire claims process. These representatives can help you gather evidence in support of your claim, help file your claim and address issues as you move through the claim decision process. You can search for a representative on eBenefits, https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search.
VA may use contractors or VA partners who are medical experts with experience working with Veterans to speed up the claim process. They support the timelier scheduling of claim exams and evidence gathering in support of your claim. You may get scheduled for a claim exam with a VA partner. They follow the same HIPAA policies as VA, so you are guaranteed that your privacy is protected. The exam is performed at the expense of VA and, just as if the exam was done at a VA medical center, the exam is used in the claim decision process for disability compensation or pension benefits. The medical
VA awards disability compensation when the claim file shows three things: 1. Current diagnosis of a disability 2. Record of an event that happened during military service that could have resulted in the disability 3. An opinion that the disability is related to military service, also called a “nexus opinion” If the first two items are clearly shown in your claim application, that’s when the C&P exam process comes in. If you did not submit enough information with your claim application to show that you have a current diagnosis of a disability or that an event occurred in military service
If you attend your claim exam and have a negative experience with a VA examiner or a VA partner examiner, VA encourages you to share feedback immediately. You may go to the C&P exam supervisor within a VA medical center or the supervisor within the VA partner facility, reach out to the VA patient advocate at your closest VA medical facility, or call the number on your original appointment letter. It is helpful to write out a statement of concern that can be submitted as part of your claim file. Share concerns immediately. Do not wait until your claim decision has been made. This will help
Think of the claim exam, or C&P exam, as a medical review. Unlike a typical medical exam or other healthcare appointment you may have with VA, an examiner will not provide you any treatment, make any referrals to other medical providers or prescribe any medicine. Depending on the information in your claim file, such as medical documents from current providers, and completed Disability Benefit Questionnaires (DBQs), the examiner will determine what additional questions and information are needed to confirm your health status and complete the exam. In some instances, your file may be so
Yes, if you are scheduled for a claim exam or C&P exam, you can request travel reimbursement. Mileage is calculated from your door to the exam facility. Your travel pay request will be submitted to the beneficiary travel office. Contact the C&P Office if you need overnight accommodations.
If you were unable to attend your exam and did not contact VA in advance, your appointment will be considered a “no show.” You will have to request a new exam appointment by calling 1-800-827-1000. If you fail to show up to any claim or C&P exam(s), it is likely that your claim decision will be delayed while VA tries to reschedule your exam. Your claim could also be rated “as-is” (using only the current information in your file). It is very helpful to make sure that both the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest to you have your current address, phone number, and email
Yes, at your request and the approval of the examiner, family members, caregivers, and significant others may be allowed to join you during an exam, but may not participate in and/or interfere with the exam. Service animals are also permitted. The request must come from the Veteran without prompting. Family members are part of the PACT (Patient Aligned Care Team) for healthcare but not necessarily for benefits and C&P exams.
Yes, if you have any medical documents that were not previously sent to VA, you can bring them to your claim exam. However, the examiner may not be able to submit that information on your behalf. All new information can be uploaded through eBenefits.va.gov, submitted to your accredited VSO representative, or mailed to VA using the appropriate address found here - http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/mailingaddresses.asp. Ideally, you should submit all of your medical evidence with your claim application or before of your claim exam so the examiner doing your exam has the most complete
No, the examiner is only involved in performing the exam and providing the results to the claims processor. They are not part of the rating process, and do not make the rating decisions. They will never know the outcome of your pending claim. Only a VA regional office can answer questions regarding rating decisions. To get a claim status update, please go to eBenefits.va.gov or, if you are working with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative, contact them for a status update. You may also contact VA at 1-800-827-1000, and a contact representative will be pleased to
VA schedules the claim exam at the end of the “Information Gathering” stage, which is about 60% of the way through the claim decision process. After your exam, the examiner will complete a report that includes a review of the exam and any clinical test results. The examiner submits the report back to the VA regional office so it can be included within your c-file/e-file and they can continue processing your claim. VA will then perform a final review on your whole claim package, and make a decision on your claim. The C&P Report is a significant factor in the VA's decision about whether or
Each exam is different depending on the information and needs of each Veteran. Exams can range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more. The examiner may ask you questions, observe you, perform a limited physical exam or simply review your file with you. The time an examiner spends with you during your exam may appear brief, but remember, even if your visit is short, he or she is still carefully reviewing your claim. Examiners often spend an hour or more before or after your appointment reviewing your claim.
Unlike a typical medical exam or other healthcare appointment you may have with VA, the claim exam will not give you any treatment or prescribe any medicine. The examiner’s job is to review your medical records related to your disability claim, including the claim file, also known as your c-file/e-file. The c-file typically includes medical treatment records from Department of Defense (DoD), your DoD personnel records, treatment records from your health care providers and any other documents submitted. The amount of time the examiner spends with you during your exam depends on what conditions

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