How To Prepare for Your C&P Exam

When you file a veterans disability claim, you may be asked to schedule a compensation and pension examination, also known as a VA claim exam. To increase the chances of winning your VA disability claim, it’s important to prepare for your VA CP exam.

5 Tips To Prepare for Your C&P Exam

  1. Review Your Medical Records
  2. Be on Time
  3. Bring a Friend or Family Member with You
  4. Keep a Disability Journal and Bring It With You
  5. Have Your Doctor Fill Out a Disability Benefits Questionnaire

CP exams are used by the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine the extent of VA disability benefits a veteran should receive. Benefits include monthly payments and eligibility for VA health care programs or a special veterans service. Even if you already qualify for other forms of disability compensation, like Social Security disability benefits, you may need to attend a CP examination.

Why Do I Need a C&P Exam?

The Department of Veterans Affairs uses your C&P exam to give you a disability rating. Your disability rating is based on the severity of your disability and determines the amount of compensation you are eligible for.

If you are a veteran who has started the VA disability claim process, you may be wondering just how much weight does a C&P exam have?

The answer is that a VA claim exam has a very heavy bearing on your veterans disability claim. A compensation and pension examination is one of the biggest factors in the Veterans Affairs Department’s evaluation of your service-connected disability and directly affects how many VA disability benefits you may receive. That’s why it is important to prepare for your C&P examination appointment.

5 Tips To Prepare for Your VA C&P Exam

What should you do to prepare for this exam? Here are a few tips:

1. Review Your Medical Records

Before your CP examination date, refresh yourself on your medical records. Verify with the VA office exactly which physical or mental health conditions will be examined during your appointment. In many cases, different disabilities will be reviewed during separate CP exams.

Review your medical records and take note of how your disability has progressed and responded to your doctor’s treatment plan. Prepare yourself to talk about your medical history and how your diagnoses affect your day-to-day life.

2. Be on Time

Be sure to arrive at your VA claim exam appointment on time. It may be a good idea to call ahead the day before your exam to verify the time and date.

On the day of your exam, give yourself plenty of time to get to your VA regional office. Center your schedule around arriving half an hour or so early to your exam appointment. That way, in the case of an unforeseen traffic accident or hiccup, you will still be on time for your VA exam appointment.

If you arrive late, you run the risk of missing your appointment, which can have drastic consequences. If for some reason you do miss your scheduled C&P exam, be sure to reschedule right away. Missed appointments can result in your veterans disability claim being delayed or even reviewed “as is” with only the information the VA office has on file being taken into account to support your claim.

3. Bring a Friend

Bringing a loved one with you to your VA CP exam can not only make you more comfortable, but also provide more insight so your CP examiner better understands your condition. In many cases, a third-party witness to your mental health or physical disability can give a unique perspective on your condition and its relation to your military service.

However, if you do plan on bringing your spouse, friend, or family member to your veteran claim exam appointment, make sure you get it approved by the VA examiner first to ensure they are allowed to come with you. All attendees to your compensation and pension exam other than yourself must be permitted by the examiner, whether they are someone close to you who wants to support you or a certified paralegal who wants to give you legal advice on your claim.

4. Keep a Disability Journal and Bring It With You

A pitfall of the VA CP exam is that your examiner is only able to witness your disability as it is during a short time on the specific day of your exam appointment. To make up for this, you should consider keeping a disability journal where you record your symptoms over a longer period of time.

Documenting your day-to-day experience with your symptoms can help you provide your examiner with a more complete picture of your disability. This is especially true if you suffer from a mental health disability or condition that is not consistently persistent.

In your journal, you should detail in your own words what your symptoms are, their frequency, and how they impact your living. The more information you provide your examiner with in terms of daily journal entries, the more accurate their grasp of your disability will be, and the more likely it will be that your benefit claim will be approved.

5. Have Your Doctor Fill Out a Disability Benefits Questionnaire

A major piece of medical evidence used by the Department of Veterans Affairs to verify your claim is a disability benefits questionnaire (DBQ). These DBQs are reviewed by Veterans Affairs rating specialists for rating disabilities and evaluating your claim.

If you have not already submitted a disability benefits questionnaire filled out by your personal physician, it may be a good idea to do so. Otherwise, a clinician chosen by Veterans Affairs will examine you and fill out the questionnaire.

You can download a disability benefits questionnaire specific to your disability (or multiple DBQs if you have multiple disabilities) on the Veterans Affairs website and give them to your private physician to fill out.

Your physician understands your condition better than a VA doctor who is not familiar with your medical history. Having your own doctor fill out a DBQ prior to your CP exam gives you more control over the result and provides your examiner with a more accurate medical opinion regarding your disability.

FAQs About the Comp and Pen Exam

Does Everyone Get a C&P Exam?

No. Not everyone who makes a veterans disability claim is required to have a C P exam. If you are asked to attend a VA claim exam, it’s because Veterans Affairs needs more information other than what you have already provided to support your VA disability claim and its service connection.

Is a C&P Exam Necessary?

If the Department of Veterans Affairs has informed you that your disability claim will require a C P exam, then you must attend the examination. It is very important that you take the exam seriously. It is one of the major ways the VA department decides on your claim and will directly affect how much compensation you receive.

How do I schedule my C&P exam?

You cannot schedule your VA CP exam yourself. If you are required to attend a compensation and pension exam to complete your benefit claim, then Veterans Affairs will send you a letter or give you a phone call to inform you of the date and time of your examination. 

After receiving your CP exam notice, you will need to contact your local VA medical center to confirm or reschedule the appointment. If you were sent a letter in the mail, call the phone number provided to do so.

Do separate conditions require separate exams?

It depends. In some cases, you will be required to attend separate CP exams for different disabilities, and in others, multiple conditions can be examined at the same time. It is more likely that you will need to attend separate VA claim exams if you suffer from illnesses of different scopes (for example, a mental health illness and hearing loss).

How do you pass the C&P exam?

The best way to pass your C&P exam is by being honest. Be open with your VA examiner about your disability and answer their questions fully. Do not minimize or exaggerate your symptoms. If you do, your claim could be rejected.

What happens at a C&P exam?

At your VA exam, a CP examiner provided by Veterans Affairs will gather information about your medical conditions and their link to your military service. Every exam is unique to the individual case. Your CP examiner may go over your benefit claim file with you, ask you questions about your medical history (including those from your DBQ), give you a basic medical exam, or deem it necessary that you have other tests (like bloodwork) performed.

How do I get the results of my C&P Exam?

You will not receive the results of your compensation and pension exam. After your exam, your CP examiner will write a report and send it to VA claims processors, who will use the report along with other information in your file to decide on your VA disability benefits eligibility. You can, however, request a copy of your CP exam report by contacting your regional VA office.

How long does a C&P exam take?

It depends. Some CP exams are short and some take a few hours. How long a compensation and pension exam takes is determined by the complexity of your disability, how many disabilities are being reviewed during the exam, and how much information your CP examiner needs to gain from you. The amount of time this takes can vary greatly.

Can you record your C&P exam?

No, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit you to record your compensation and pension examination. However, you can request a copy of your CP exam report from your regional VA office.

What should I bring to my C&P exam?

You are not required to bring anything with you to your C&P exam. However, if you keep a disability journal, it may be a good idea to bring it with you to help fully answer your CP examiner’s questions. If you have any new medical evidence you would like to add to your veterans benefit claim (such as recent non-VA medical records or a disability benefits questionnaire filled out by your personal doctor) make sure you submit them before your exam date.

What happens if I miss a C&P exam?

If you miss your compensation and pension examination, make sure you contact your regional VA office as soon as possible to reschedule with human resources. Veterans Affairs normally requires at least a 48 hour notice to reschedule a CP exam appointment; otherwise, your benefit claim could be delayed or finalized with only the information on file.

However, they do make exceptions for veterans with a “good cause” (like the death of a family member) to reschedule after a missed appointment. So, be sure to do everything in your power to show up on time for your exam.

A compensation and pension exam is one of the most important deciding factors in your VA disability claim. The Department of Veterans Affairs uses the report from your C&P exam to assign you a disability rating, which determines your eligibility for VA benefits and the amount of disability compensation you are entitled to receive. Being prepared for your C&P exam can increase your chances of winning your claim.