VA doctor conducting a Compensation and Pension exam for an older veteran

What is a Compensation and Pension Exam?

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Reviewing the components and purposes of a Compensation and Pension exam for veterans seeking VA disability benefits.


  • A Compensation and Pension exam is often necessary for veterans who want to obtain or increase their VA disability benefits in an appeal.
  • The VA is concerned with confirming the severity of the veteran’s symptoms and their disability’s connection to their military service.
  • Veterans may need multiple Compensation and Pension exams over the course of their lives to adjust their VA disability rating for a service-related condition or account for a new medical complication.
  • C&P exams aim to establish the likelihood of a service connection for the disability, following the VA’s “at least as likely as not” standard.

Before you are granted disability benefits for a service-related disability, the VA may schedule a Compensation and Pension exam for you. This is a crucial step in the VA appeal process. It’s important that you make the most of this opportunity to establish your eligibility for VA disability benefits.

VetLaw is well-versed in the details of this exam, and we’re here to help. Our veterans disability appeals attorneys are experts with a diligent work ethic, which is why vets trust us.

We encourage you to give us a call at (855) 651-1522 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We’ll explain what you need to know about Compensation and Pension exams, which most veterans will know as a C&P exam. Our team can also help you build your appeal.

What is a Compensation and Pension Exam or C&P?

A Compensation and Pension exam refers to a meeting where the VA assesses a veteran’s disability and the likelihood that there is a medical nexus between the condition and the veteran’s military service. Their findings are used as evidence in your VA disability claim.

An appointment may be brief, or it can last more than an hour. You may need more than one C&P exam, particularly if you have multiple service-related disabilities or you have to be evaluated by a specialist. Either a VA provider or a VA-approved contractor, who are private healthcare providers, will oversee your C&P exam.

Usually, a C&P exam consists of the VA provider asking you about your mental or physical condition and its relationship to your military service, as well as an observation of your symptoms. Additionally, they may conduct a limited physical examination.

The C&P examiner is looking to ensure your symptoms and medical diagnosis are consistent and connected with your service record. The VA’s standard of proof is “at least as likely as not” when it comes to establishing eligibility for VA disability benefits based on a service-related illness or injury.

When Can the VA Request That I Undergo a Compensation and Pension Exam?

In the timeline of the VA claims process, a C&P usually happens early on. After filing your VA disability claim, the VA may call you to schedule a Compensation and Pension exam. If the VA denies your original claim and you appeal, you may need to submit to a C&P exam again.

Typically, this depends on the nature of your disability and why the VA denied your claim in the first place. Once the VA has established that your mental or physical condition is service-related and granted disability benefits, there may be other circumstances where you have to undergo additional C&P exams. 

The main reason for an additional evaluation is to reassess the veteran’s existing VA disability rating.  Both veterans and the VA can initiate this process, which may require an updated Compensation and Pension exam. Your rating will not necessarily change, regardless of who prompted the C&P exam.

For example, if you are unsatisfied with your current VA disability rating, your service-related condition has gotten worse, or you have developed a Secondary Condition, you may file a VA disability claim appeal to increase your disability rating.

When the request for a C&P exam is prompted by the VA rather than a veteran’s appeal, usually it’s because their service-related disability was supposed to improve over time. The C&P is so the VA can see if the existing rating is still accurate. Veterans should be aware that the VA’s 5-year rule allows them to schedule follow-up C&P evaluations for this purpose.

Common Misconceptions About C&P Exams

If you haven’t attended a Compensation and Pension exam before, you may not know what to expect going in. Part of preparing for your C&P exam is understanding what is not included in a Compensation and Pension evaluation.

Here are a few myths about C&P exams:

“C&P exams involve medical treatment.” The VA provider who carries out your Compensation and Pension exam will not administer medical care. Their role is to observe and verify, not treat. 

“Everyone has to submit to a C&P exam.” If your disability is clearly service-related and you have already provided significant medical evidence, the VA may decide that they don’t need to schedule a C&P exam to gather more information. 

Alternatively, if you have failed to provide a medical diagnosis or your records contradict a service connection, the VA may not schedule a C&P until you can offer more evidence that your claim is credible.

“You’ll receive your VA disability rating right away.” The VA uses the information collected or confirmed by your C&P to issue your disability rating. Then, you will likely have to wait a few months. The VA will take this time to process your disability benefits claim and notify you of their decision.

Let VetLaw Help You Prepare for Your C&P Exam for Your VA Disability Appeal

The outcome of your C&P exam can have a considerable influence over the level of VA disability benefits you receive. At VetLaw, we are committed to ensuring the VA treats our clients fairly. We want to put you in a strong position to pursue an appeal. Preparing veterans to attend a C&P exam to appeal their current status is one of the ways we do this.

You can count on our VA-accredited veterans disability claims lawyers to stand up for you and your rights. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (855) 651-1522 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I miss my C&P exam?

In the event that you miss your Compensation and Pension exam, you need to reschedule it as soon as possible. Get in touch with the contract vendor who scheduled your C&P to set up a new time.

If you fail to attend a C&P, this can hurt your VA disability claim or appeal. At a minimum, it almost certainly delays any decision from the VA.

Can I request a female or male provider for my Compensation and Pension exam?

Depending on what kind of service-related disability you are being evaluated for, yes. You can specify which gender provider you want if your C&P is for a mental health condition, conditions related to Military Sexual Trauma, or a sensitive area. This includes gynecological evaluations, as well as breast and rectal exams.

Do I need to complete a C&P exam for a Secondary Condition?

Whether or not you need a Compensation and Pension exam for a Secondary Condition is up to the VA. Just like if you were seeking disability benefits for your primary service-related disability, the VA decides.

The VA may schedule a C&P to ensure that there is sufficient medical evidence connecting the two. Alternatively, the VA may want to verify the severity of your symptoms.