The VA uses Compensation and Pension exams, where a healthcare provider evaluates a veteran’s disability, to inform rating decisions.


  • The Compensation and Pension Exam helps the VA assess a veteran’s disability compensation based on the injuries they obtained during their service. 
  • C&P Exams may vary, depending on the veteran’s claim, but may include a medical exam or various medical tests. 
  • Every veteran who files a disability claim doesn’t need to take the Compensation and Pension Exam, only those whose medical records require more assessment.

VA provider conducting a Compensation and Pension exam with a young male veteran

The Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam determines if a veteran qualifies for VA disability benefits. It often plays a central role in a veteran’s appeal to add a secondary condition, increase their VA disability rating, or pursue compensation for a service-related disability.

The team at Bartlett Law Group is invested in helping veterans claim the VA disability benefits they are entitled to. We understand how much pressure is associated with the C&P exam, as the success of an appeal often hinges on its results. 

Our team has created a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know to be prepared for your Compensation and Pension Exam. If you are struggling to build an appeal and your C&P exam is approaching or you believe your C&P results don’t tell the full story, our VA disability benefits appeals lawyers are here to support you. 

Call Bartlett Legal Group today and start the process of claiming your VA disability benefits with the support of our experts. You can reach us by phone at (850) 332-6434 or use our online scheduler to set up a free consultation.

The Importance of a C&P Exam in the VA Disability Claims Process

The C&P, also known as the VA claim exam, is conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs. It is used for both mental and physical conditions. A VA provider has two main objectives in a C&P exam. The first is to assess whether the veteran’s disability is service-based. 

Their second responsibility is to review the veteran’s medical records and observe the severity of their symptoms. The information they collect speaks to where the vet’s symptom’s fit into the rating schedule for their disability. 

Ultimately, the VA will rate the veteran’s disability based on the C&P test results. The veteran’s disability rating then determines their monthly compensation level. Most veterans’ disability compensation includes monthly payments and enrollment in the VA health care program. 

Who Needs a Compensation and Pension Exam?

Not every veteran will need to take this exam. The VA only requests veterans complete the exam when it needs more details about their disability or its service connection. For example, if your service-related illness is expected to improve, the VA will likely schedule a C&P exam to judge the current status of your condition. 

Alternatively, the VA may request a C&P exam for a veteran whose condition was denied for lack of service connection, but is now considered a presumptive condition. For example, the PACT Act has added new presumptive conditions, so vets filing toxic exposure VA claims may need a new C&P to asses the current status of their disability if a number of years have passed.

If the Department of Veterans Affairs does not receive adequate medical evidence to support a veteran’s disability claim, they will follow the Acceptable Clinical Evidence process, review the veteran’s medical records, and ask the veteran for clarity. 

Your local VA medical center or VA contractor will send you a letter with the date and time of your exam. You might also get a phone call or email from them. If you have an issue with the appointment time, you should address this as soon as possible.

What Should I Do Before a C&P Exam?

Although the VA takes the lead in managing Compensation and Pension exams, veterans do have a few responsibilities in this process. The first step veterans must take is to confirm their appointment. Call the number on the exam letter or email to confirm a place and time. If you initially get a phone call, you can confirm during it. 

Once your appointment is confirmed, you can request help or accommodations to get to the exam. In addition to responding to the VA’s scheduling request, you should submit any new non-VA medical records before your appointment. This includes doctor and hospital reports, test results, and other documents. 

Arrive at your exam location 15 minutes early and wear comfortable clothes so you can move around, if necessary. 

What Should I Expect During a Compensation and Pension Exam?

C&P Exams are not healthcare appointments. You will not receive any medicine or treatment during these exams. Exams can range from over an hour to fifteen minutes, depending on the case. The VA covers the exam’s cost.

 Depending on your circumstances, your C&P examiner might:

  • Ask questions based on the medical records. These questions are pulled from the Disability Benefits Questionnaire based on the condition you’re claiming.
  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Request other tests, such as X-rays and bloodwork. 

A VA provider or VA contract provider will conduct your exam. Veterans can request a male or female provider:

  • If they have a reproductive health, breast, rectal, or mental health exam
  • If they claimed physical or mental health condition as a result of military sexual trauma (MST)

What Are the Different Types of C&P Exams?

Because every veteran’s experience and claim are different, C&P exams look different for everyone. Some exams are telehealth-based. These phone or video appointments can be conducted from the comfort of the veteran’s home. 

Typical Compensation and Pension exams take place at your local VA medical center or a contractor’s location. Veterans should not travel over 50 miles for their exams. If a veteran requires a specialist provider, the VA will try to find a location within 100 miles of the veteran’s home. Specialist providers include dental, eye, hearing, and mental health exams. 

What Happens After a Compensation and Pension Exam?

Once the Compensation and Pension Exam is complete, the examiner will send the results to a claims processor. The Department of Veteran Affairs will review your claim file and test results, decide on your claim, and send you a notice. 

If the VA claims processor determines your disability is a direct result of your service, your current compensation package can go up, or you might finally qualify for benefits. This process typically takes three to four months after your initial appointment. 

If you disagree with the disability rating the VA issued you based on your C&P exam or you think your claim was wrongly denied, you have recourse. Veterans can file an appeal with the VA; hiring an experienced VA disability claims lawyer is the best way to start this process.

Note that you will need to fill out a Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act Request to get a copy of your C&P exam report.

You can count on the veterans disability claims appeals attorneys of Bartlett Legal Group to help you every step of the way during the appeals process, including preparing you for your C&P exam. We understand the impact service-related injuries and illnesses can have on every aspect of a veteran’s life. 

Our team wants to make the compensation process as easy as possible. Schedule your free consultation with Bartlett Legal Group today if you have questions about filing a VA appeal. Get in touch with us by phone at (850) 332-6434 or use our online scheduler to set up a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the VA pay for all of my travel for the Claim Exam? 

Yes, because the Compensation and Pension Exam is a VA-mandated exam, all of the travel to and from the VA medical center will be compensated. However, if you’re an active-duty resident or live outside the U.S. or U.S. territories, the VA will not provide travel reimbursement. 

Who can schedule a Compensation and Pension exam?

Only the Department of Veteran Affairs can schedule a C&P exam. Veterans cannot do it on their own. 

What information does the VA use to determine my eligibility for disability benefits?

Each case is different, but common examples of evidence in a VA disability claim include medical records, exam reports, medical test results from your C&P exam, personal statements, and your military and personnel records.