In light of recent developments, veterans suffering from neck, back, or joint disabilities may now be eligible for an increase in service-connected injury benefits, irrespective of whether they are already receiving disability payments for these conditions. This decision was made by the Department of Veteran Affairs following a review of the VA’s Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination process. It was discovered that C&P examiners often struggled to accurately determine whether a veteran qualified for a musculoskeletal disability claim, particularly in cases involving intermittent flare-ups.
The case of Sharp vs. Shulkin, which led to this decision, also established that veterans may be entitled to a higher disability rating. To qualify for this rating, veterans must provide evidence of the injury causing additional functional limitations. For example, if you have pain, coordination issues, or reduced endurance that make it difficult to perform routine tasks, it’s crucial to communicate this during your examination.
As a result of this new legal requirement, C&P examiners are now mandated to consider the impact of pain flare-ups during the evaluation. However, scheduling examinations during a flare-up may not always be possible, especially if the disability only manifests for a brief period. In such cases, veterans with longer-lasting flare-ups should present medical records from healthcare professionals that detail their flare-ups to provide a clear picture of their symptoms.
To increase your chances of a Service Connected Injury Increase, we recommend gathering and submitting all your medical records before your examination. This proactive approach will offer the examiner a comprehensive understanding of your disability and strengthen your case with supporting documents. Additionally, it’s advisable to be well-prepared for your C&P interview, even if the examiner cannot witness a flare-up. Make sure to watch the video and read the post to be prepared for the C&P interview. Including a buddy letter that describes the extent of your pain can also be beneficial.
If you require assistance or have questions regarding your claim, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Brian and the entire Veteran Disability Claims Bootcamp team are here to provide guidance and support throughout the process.