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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.

Claim exam updates during the coronavirus pandemic

Get the latest updates on claim exams. And find out what to do if your claim requires an in-person exam.
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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 we schedule and confirm your claim exam

The staff at your local VA medical center or a VA contract vendor will mail you a letter or call you with the date and time of your exam.

Make sure both the VA regional office and the VA medical center nearest to you have your up-to-date address, phone number, and email address so that you get your exam notice in time.

Find a VA regional office or VA medical center near you

Note: You can’t start the scheduling process for C&P exams yourself. We’ll start the scheduling process by mailing you a letter or calling you.

Please confirm your appointment. If you received a letter, call the number provided to confirm your appointment. It’s important not to miss your scheduled exam, so you’ll want to double-check that you have the right place and time.

When you confirm your appointment, you can also request the gender of your health care provider in these situations:

  • If you’re having a reproductive health, breast, rectal, or mental health exam, or
  • If your claim is related to a mental or physical health condition resulting from Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

If you need to change the day or time of your scheduled exam, even if it was a rescheduled appointment, please let the VA medical center or contract vendor know at least 48 hours in advance. You may be able to reschedule, but this may delay your claim.

If you don’t show up to your appointment, it may also delay your claim. Or your claim may be decided based on the evidence you provided.

To reschedule your appointment:

Call the number provided on your appointment letter.

Or call us at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

What to expect at your 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.

Your provider can’t submit these records to VA for you.

You can submit new non-VA medical records in any of these ways:

If you have children, you’ll need to plan ahead for childcare during your exam. Because you and the provider 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 provider examines you.

A VA claim exam isn’t like a normal medical exam or other VA health care visits. The provider won’t treat you for any illness or injury, give you referrals to other 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 provider 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.
    Review 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 provider. But keep in mind that their 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 provider 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 provider asks about a knee injury may take only a few minutes. However, the questions for a more complex illness or injury could take much longer. 

It’s important to remember that your in-person visit is only one part of the claim review process. The provider will also spend time outside the exam carefully reviewing your records.

Either a VA provider or a non-VA provider who we’ve contracted with will do the exam. You can also have your own provider examine you and fill out the necessary forms.
Get instructions for your provider to fill out VA claim exam forms

You won’t receive the results at your examination. Your provider will give the exam results to our VA claims processors. They will decide your claim based on these results and your other medical and military records.

If you have questions about the claims process, call your nearest VA regional office.

Find a VA regional office near you

If you have what we consider to be a good reason for missing your exam (called “good cause”), you can call your nearest VA regional office to reschedule. Examples of “good cause” might be an illness or the death of someone in your immediate family.

Find a VA regional office near you

After your 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.

Check our most recent estimate for the average number of days to complete a claim

Sign in to track your claim

Yes, you can get a copy of the final report from your exam by contacting us. 
Contact your nearest VA regional office

Our VA claims processors will review:

  • The medical records you’ve given us
  • The report from the provider 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

We may ask you to have a claim exam if you appeal your disability benefits decision.
Learn more about appealing a decision

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

Play informational videos

You can also play 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.

Play the VA claim exams video series