VA claim exam (C&P exam)
After you file your disability benefits claim, we may ask you to have a claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam). Get answers to commonly asked questions about the VA claim exam below.
Be sure not to miss your scheduled exam.
If you miss your exam, we may not be able to reschedule you right away, and your claim may be delayed while you wait for a new appointment. Or we may need to rate your claim “as-is.” This means we’ll base our decision about your disability benefits only on the evidence we have in your file, which may not be enough.
Why might I need a VA claim exam?
This exam will help us rate your disability. Your rating will be based on how severe your disability is—and will affect how much disability compensation you’ll receive. Compensation may include things like monthly payments and enrollment in the VA health care program.
Does everyone who files a claim need to have a VA claim exam?
No. We’ll ask you to have a claim exam only if we need more information to decide your claim.
If you have enough medical evidence in your file to support your claim, we won’t ask you to have a claim exam. Medical evidence may include doctor and hospital reports, test results, and other documents.
How to schedule your VA claim exam
The staff at your local VA medical center or a local doctor’s office that we partner with will contact you. They’ll either send you a letter by mail with the date and time of your exam, or call you to find a time that works for you.
Make sure both the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest you have your up-to-date address, phone number, and email address so you get your exam notice in time.
Call the number provided right away to confirm the time and location of your exam. It’s important not to miss your scheduled exam, so you’ll want to double check that you have the right place and time.
If you can’t make it to your appointment, let us know right away. You can most likely reschedule, but this may delay your claim.
To reschedule your appointment:
- Call 800-827-1000, or
- Go to your nearest VA regional office.
Find a VA regional office near you
What to expect at your VA claim exam
You don’t need to bring anything to your exam. If you have any new non-VA medical records (like records from a recent surgery or illness), please be sure to submit them before your appointment. The health care provider can’t review new information during the exam.
If you have children, you’ll need to plan ahead for childcare during your exam. Because you and the doctor may discuss sensitive topics, children shouldn’t be in the room with you.
On the day of the exam, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothes so you can move freely while the doctor exams you.
A VA claim exam isn’t like a normal medical exam or other VA health care visits. The doctor won’t treat you for any illness or injury, give you referrals to other health care providers, or prescribe medicine. That’s because the purpose of the exam is to gather information that will help us make a decision on your claim. Each exam is different, depending on the information we need.
During your exam, the doctor may do any or all of these things:
- Review your claim file with you
- Ask you questions based on the medical records in your claim file. These may include questions from the Disability Benefits Questionnaire for each service-connected condition you’re claiming.
Take a look at the Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)
- Perform a basic physical exam
- Ask you to get other tests—like X-rays or blood work—if needed
If you have any questions about what’s happening during your exam, feel free to ask the doctor. But keep in mind that the doctor’s job is to examine you, not to make any decisions about your claim. They won’t be able to answer questions about the claims process.
After your exam, the doctor will write up a report and send it to a VA claims processor to be added to your claim file.
Your exam may be very short, or it may last an hour or more. It all depends on the conditions you’ve claimed and whether we need more information to make a decision.
For example, the required questions the doctor asks about a knee injury may take only a few minutes. But the questions for a more complex illness or injury could take much longer. A mental health evaluation usually lasts 2 to 4 hours.
It’s important to remember that your in-person visit is only one part of the claim review process. The doctor will also spend time outside the exam carefully reviewing your records.
Either a VA doctor or a non-VA doctor who we’ve contracted with will do the exam. You can also have your own doctor examine you and fill out the necessary forms.
Get instructions for your doctor to fill out VA claim exam forms
No. The doctor will give the exam results to our VA claims processors. Our claims processors will decide your claim based on these results, plus your other medical and military records.
If you have questions about the claims process, call your nearest VA regional office.
Find contact information for your nearest VA regional office
If you miss your claim exam, contact us right away to let us know why you didn’t make it. We can help you figure out what to do next.
If you have what we consider to be a good reason for missing your exam (called “good cause”), we’ll work with you to reschedule your exam. Examples of “good cause” might be an illness or the death of someone in your immediate family.
After your VA claim exam
We’ll review all the evidence in your file, assign your disability rating, and send you a decision notice (a letter letting you know your disability rating).
Each claim is different, but it usually takes us about 3 to 4 months to process a claim from start to finish. The processing time for your claim depends on how complex your claim is and how many conditions you’ve claimed.
Our VA claims processors will review:
- The medical records you’ve given us
- The report from the doctor who handled your claim exam, and the results of any ordered medical tests
- Statements from you and others about your claim
- Your military medical and personnel records
What if I have more questions about my exam?
Download helpful PDFs
VA claim exam fact sheet
A quick guide on the claim exam process, and what you can expect during and after your exam
VA claim exam tips
Tips to help make the claim exam process easier and less stressful
VA claim exam FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions about the claim exam process
Step-by-step VA claim process
A quick, step-by-step overview of the claim process and exam
Mental health exam fact sheet
Information about how we evaluate mental health claims for compensation, and why it’s important to go to your exam
Review exams fact sheet
Information about why and when we request review exams, what will happen at the exam, and why it’s important to go to your exam
Watch informational videos
You can also watch our VA claim exams video series. This series offers videos on how to prepare for your VA claim exam, how to use disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs), and what to expect at claim exams for the most common disability claims.