Independent Medical Opinions
The most common type of medical evaluation during the VA disability claims process is a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Examination. These examinations are performed by a VA healthcare provider or VA contracted provider. The VA uses these to gather more evidence on a veteran’s claimed condition before issuing a decision.
A C&P examination is not the only form of medical evaluation that veteran may go through during the course of their claim. There are also time in which veterans need to obtain medical opinions from healthcare professionals outside of the VA.
What are Independent Medical Opinions?
When the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is reviewing a veteran’s file for adjudication they sometimes discover that some medical questions have been left unanswered or prior examination were inadequate. When this happens the Board can request an independent medical opinion (IMO) from a doctor who specializes in the condition on appeal.
Veterans do not need to attend these “examinations”. In fact, they are not examinations but rather review of the evidence currently on record. If an IMO is requested the veteran will be notified and has 60 days to respond with evidence either disagreeing or agreeing with its findings.
The healthcare professional writing the opinion must be aware of the veteran’s claim. If the opinion relates to the veteran’s claim for service connection the doctor must use the “at least as likely as not” language.
How do Independent Medical Opinions Help?
Independent medical opinions are completed by doctors who have specializations that relate to the specific condition rather than a general practitioner from the VA. This means they may have a better understanding of the condition and provide a more thorough and/or adequate explanation of the causes and severity. Further, the independent medical doctors are completely separate from the VA which means veterans may feel as though the opinion has a higher level of objectivity.
Call Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.