A new decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims highlights the fact that the VA must notify veterans to attend scheduled Compensation and Pension examinations. In Kyhn v. Shinseki, No. 07-2349, the Court criticized a VA decision in which the VA failed to properly explain why it determined that the veteran received proper notice of a scheduled examination — an examination that the veteran failed to attend.
In many cases, the Compensation and Pension examination — or C & P Examination — is the most important part of a veteran’s request for VA benefits. VA adjudicators rely heavily on a VA examiner’s opinion as to whether a condition is related to service and how severe the condition is. It is all too common that veterans miss scheduled Compensation and Pension because they do not receive notification about the scheduled appointment, and the VA will then deny the claim. This can set the veteran’s claim back months or even years.
The VA will provide notice to vets before exams by regular mail about the appointment. (Sometimes, veterans will even receive a phone call about the scheduled appointment.) VA uses the mailing address that it has on file. If the VA mails the notification to the wrong address, VA should not deny the claim without first rescheduling the examination and properly notifying the veteran.
Kyhn v. Shinseki
The Kyhn case also brought up one another point. In that case, the veteran had submitted a private examination which seemed to provide the evidence needed to win the claim. However, VA refused to find that the private examination was sufficient. It just goes to show that oftentimes VA values the opinions of VA examiners more than it does private opinions, often to the detriment of the veteran.