The Compensation and Pension Exam
The Compensation and Pension Exam (a.k.a. the “C&P Exam”) is an exam performed by a VA salaried or contracted physician to document the current severity of a condition that is being considered for VA Disability and DoD Disability. The Compensation and Pension Exam is the second step of the VA Disability Process, and Step 3 of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
In some cases, more than one Compensation and Pension Exam will be required. The first exam is usually conducted by a general physician. In most cases, this will be the only exam needed.
If, however, the veteran has a vision, hearing, dental, or psychiatric condition, then a specialist will have to do the evaluation for that condition—an optometrist for an eye condition, an audiologist for hearing, etc. The VA is required by law to have specialists conduct the exam for any of these conditions. Each of these additional exams is also referred to as a “C&P Exam.”
In the Compensation and Pension Exam report, the physician should establish the diagnosis of the condition, note the exact nature of the condition, and record all necessary measurements/test results needed to rate the condition on a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ).
Preparing for the Compensation and Pension Exam
Make sure to bring the following to your Compensation and Pension exam:
- Complete medical history of the conditions to be examined in the exam, including all doctors’ reports and tests. You may have already submitted this information, but bring it to your exam anyway just in case the physician hasn’t seen it or needs any of the information in it.
- Specific knowledge of the exact information and tests the Rating Authorities need to properly assign a VA Disability Rating to each of your conditions. You can Find Your Conditions on our site to figure out exactly what is needed to rate them.
It is essential for you to be proactive at your Compensation and Pension Exam. All VA Physicians have access to Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) that guide them through the exams to ensure that they record the correct information, but while we’d like to think the system works perfectly, there is far too much proof that it doesn’t.
A contributing cause to the VA’s massive backlog is incorrect or incomplete data recorded in the Compensation and Pension Exam reports. This causes the cases to be returned, after months of waiting in line, for another exam to be conducted to provide the missing/proper information. If you come properly prepared to your first Compensation and Pension Exam, you can help make sure this doesn’t happen to your case.
Even though it shouldn’t be, make it your job to ensure that the Compensation and Pension Exam physicians (1) have all the information they need and (2) perform the proper tests at the exam.
For example, supraventricular arrhythmia (a heart condition) is rated on how many episodes of arrhythmia are recorded every year. The type and quantity of medication, etc., doesn’t matter for rating. All the physician must record during the exam is the number of episodes that were properly documented during the past year. Extra evidence never hurts, but if the physician fails to record the necessary info, then the case will have to be sent back.
A Compensation and Pension Exam does not need to be excessively long to get a proper rating. All that needs to happen at the Compensation and Pension Exam is for the proper information to be recorded.
Just be prepared and proactive, and your Compensation and Pension Exam should go well.
What is a Compensation and Pension Exam?
A Compensation and Pension Exam is a medical exam performed by an approved VA physician to evaluate conditions for disability compensation.
How do I get a Compensation and Pension Exam?
After you submit a VA Disability Claim, the VA will request to have Compensation and Pension Exams performed for the conditions you listed on the claim. You can set up your exams with your local VA clinic or Regional VA medical center.
I have multiple conditions. Do I need multiple exams?
It depends on your conditions. Most Compensation and Pension Exams are performed by general physicians, which is all that is needed for the majority of conditions. Some conditions will require examination by specialists, however, because some conditions need certain tests performed to rate them that only a specialist can perform, etc. If you have a condition that needs a specialist exam, you will be referred to one after seeing the general physician.
How long will the exam take?
Exams can last 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the number and complexity of your conditions.
What information should be recorded by the physician?
Since the purpose of Compensation and Pension Exams is to help the VA rate conditions for disability, then only the information needed to service-connect and rate each condition needs to be recorded. This includes a full medical history of the condition and any current tests, measurements, etc. needed to rate the condition.
How should I prepare for my exam?
It's vital that you bring copies of all your medical records of your conditions so the physician has a complete medical history. Also make sure you know what information is needed to rate your conditions so you can ensure the physician records the correct information and performs the necessary tests.
What if the physician doesn't properly record my conditions?
This is tricky. Without proof of misconduct, it'll be difficult to have the VA approve a new exam. If there isn't enough information recorded to rate the condition, the VA will send the claim back to gather the additional information needed. If the information recorded is enough to rate it, but is just incorrect, then that could negatively affect your ratings. The key to combat this is to submit ample outside evidence that has enough of the correct information about your condition that it negates the incorrect information on the single Compensation and Pension Exam. With enough outside correct evidence, the VA could overlook the Compensation and Pension Exam and still rate your condition correctly.