What will the VA look for in an independent medical examination?

An independent medical examination can be used in support of service connection for a veteran’s medical condition. In doing so, it is often in a veteran’s best interest for his or her doctor to indicate that an injury or illness “is at least as likely as not” related to military service.

The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has stated that the value of medical opinion evidence is based on:

  1. The Medical Expert’s Personal Examination of the Patient

This is where the examiner would indicate their relationship to the veteran. Has the examiner treated the veteran for years? Does the examiner have personal knowledge of the medical condition? Other information like medications prescribed, diagnoses and symptomatology would provide support here.

  1. The Physician’s Knowledge and Skill in Analyzing the Data

Indicating that the examiner has experience treating the veteran’s specific type of disability can support the strength of the examination. If the examiner is an expert or specializes in the particular field under contention, then his or her examination will provide more value.

  1. The Medical Conclusion the Physician Reaches

Veterans will want to make sure that medical opinions from their examiner provide a thorough conclusion regarding the veteran’s entitlement to service connection. The opinions should use the facts of the veteran’s case, including relevant information from his or her medical history and current condition, as well relevant medical literature to provide support for each conclusion.

A medical exam report should not only contain clear conclusions with supporting information, but also a reasoned medical explanation linking the two. An examiner providing a medical opinion must be thoroughly informed of the veteran’s past medical history.

Medical Evidence

An examiner will want to indicate that he or she reviewed the veteran’s C-file, medical history, statements and any other information related to veteran’s case.

Methods and principles of treatment should be shown to be reliable. Examiners will want to indicate that they have used generally accepted practices and principles. They would also want to cite any articles used to provide support and indicate the relevance and credibility of those articles.

Reasoning

In each independent medical examination, an examiner should provide sound rationale based on the facts of the veteran’s case and all the medical information available, including current condition and symptoms, medical history and medical literature.

In some instances, the VA ignores the fact that a veteran has provided a sound, credible independent medical examination and instead adopts a VA examination as more credible. This can even happen when the VA’s examiner has not provided adequate reason for their opinions.

Veterans Serving Veterans

Berry Law Firm was founded by John Stevens Berry Sr., Vietnam War veteran and trial attorney. Today, we count many military veterans among our attorneys and staff. We know what it means to serve and we know firsthand the struggles many of our clients face every day.

If an inadequate medical examination has left you with a low disability rating, please contact Berry Law Firm today. We may be able to assist you.