Your Comp & Pen Exam

What is a Comp & Pen Exam?

Comp & Pen Exams are ordered by the VA to provide a medical nexus, or link between your medical condition and your military service. The examiner will be asked to provide a medical opinion as to whether your condition is related to your military service or another service-connected condition.

These exams also help the VA determine the severity of your condition so they can assign a rating.

Do I Have To Go?

It is extremely important that you attend your Comp & Pen Exam because this is the medical evidence the VA will use to grant or deny your claim. Most cases require a medical opinion to link your injury in service to your current condition. Without a Comp & Pen Exam, that nexus is extremely difficult to get, and the VA will likely deny your claim without it.

If you cannot attend the exam or they schedule your exam far away and you have no way to get there, contact the facility directly and ask them to schedule you for a closer exam or ask for help with transportation to and from your exam if it needs to be in person. It is extremely important that you contact the facility to reschedule your exam if you cannot make it to your appointment.

What Should I Expect During the Exam?

The Comp & Pen Exam is your opportunity to present why your condition is related to service to the physician. If your condition is not already service-connected (meaning you are not receiving disability compensation for the condition), make sure you tell the examiner about what happened in service and trace your symptoms over time.

The examiner will be observing your movements and behavior and may perform a limited physical exam to evaluate your condition. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your exam:

  • Talk about what happened in service that you believe caused or aggravated your condition. Try to be as specific as possible. If you are not comfortable discussing the details of an in-service event, you may point to statements you submitted to the VA previously for the examiner to reference. Bring a copy of your statements with you to the exam to reference.

  • Make sure to discuss what symptoms you experienced immediately following the in-service event/injury and how they have worsened or evolved over time from service through the present. It is important that the examiner can trace the start of your symptoms back to the claimed in-service event/injury.

  • Be honest when describing the frequency and severity of your symptoms and how they impact your day-to-day life to the examiner; do not downplay the severity of your symptoms. Keep in mind that the examiner will be closely monitoring your movements and behavior, including your body language and the tone of your voice.

  • Do not answer a question you do not understand. Ask for clarification if necessary. Do not talk to fill the space or time. Keep your conversation with the examiner limited to what happened in service, the frequency and severity of symptoms related to your condition, and how they impact your day-to-day life.

  • While the exam is not meant to be painful, you may experience slight discomfort depending on the required testing. When testing your range of motion, be sure to tell the examiner as soon as you begin to experience pain, as this contributes to your overall functional loss.

  • If you are prescribed any medications for your condition, be sure to tell the examiner the name and dosage of each medication and how often you take each. This is extremely important, because medication may mask some of your symptoms, or the use of medications may be used to evaluate the severity of your condition and how much it impacts your ability to work.

What Should I Do After the Exam?

After your exam, make sure you complete a Post Comp & Pen Exam Exit Survey about your experience. This may be extremely useful if the exam is inadequate and we need to appeal in the future! Click here to complete your Post Comp & Pen Exam Exit Survey.

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