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February 28, 2024

C&P Exam for GERD: Here’s What to Expect and How to Prepare

Last updated on April 17, 2024

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If you’ve filed a VA claim for GERD, chances are high that you’ll be scheduled for a C&P exam for GERD.

In this high-value blog post, you’ll learn “what” to expect and “how” to prepare for the #1 most important day in the VA claim process so you can get the VA rating and compensation you deserve.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a major problem for military veterans.

Not only is GERD among the 50 Most Common VA Claims, but also, it can have severe impacts to your work, life, and social functioning.

Pro Tip: Under the new Diagnostic Code (DC) 7206 for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), veterans are eligible for ratings of either 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, or 80%. In my opinion, this change is bad because the new rating criteria for GERD depends on “esophageal stricture” (difficulty swallowing) and doesn’t contain any of the most common symptoms of GERD, which doesn’t make any sense. I think this change will result in veterans getting lower ratings for GERD than under the previous ratings analogous to Hiatal Hernia.

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What to Expect at Your C&P Exam for GERD

A C&P exam for GERD is designed to evaluate whether (#1) You have GERD, and if so, (#2) The severity of your symptoms and any negative impact on your work, life, and social functioning.

Here are six things you can expect during a VA C&P exam for GERD:

  • Review of Medical History: The C&P examiner should start by reviewing your medical records, including any previous diagnoses, medical history, treatments, and evaluations related to GERD. Note: The examiner has access to the medical records and documents you submitted to the VA.
  • History and Onset:  The examiner should ask about your military service history and any prior diagnoses of GERD. Certain factors commonly encountered in military environments, such as stress, irregular meal schedules, physical exertion, dietary changes, and exposure to environmental hazards, can contribute to the development or exacerbation of GERD. For example, service members deployed to combat zones may experience increased stress levels, irregular eating patterns, and exposure to environmental factors like smoke, dust, and chemicals, all of which can trigger or worsen GERD symptoms. Additionally, certain military occupations that involve heavy lifting, strenuous physical activity, or prolonged periods of sitting or standing may increase the risk of developing GERD. For example, “I was deployed to Afghanistan and exposed to many hazards including stress from the job, which is when my GERD symptoms began.”
  • Discussion of Symptoms: The examiner should ask you about your GERD symptoms, including when you first noticed them and how often you experience them. Remember, your final VA rating for GERD depends upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of symptoms and how those symptoms negatively affect your work, life, and social functioning.
  • Negative Impacts on Daily Life: You’ll be asked about how GERD affects your daily activities, such as sleeping, concentrating, working, socializing, and overall quality of life. Be honest and provide specific examples of how GERD interferes with your ability to function normally. For example, “My GERD is so severe that I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep because I have horrible acid reflux, chest pain, and arm and shoulder pain. These symptoms affect me daily and I must take regular prescription medications and over-the-counter antiacids.”
  • Physical Examination and Blood Test: The C&P examiner might conduct a physical exam to check for signs of complications related to GERD, such as inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), narrowing of the esophagus (stricture), or respiratory issues caused by acid reflux. They may also examine your abdomen for any tenderness or swelling that could indicate other digestive problems or complications related to GERD. While there is no specific blood test to diagnose GERD, blood tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms or complications, such as Anemia. Blood tests can help assess the overall health of your digestive system and detect potential issues such as inflammation, infection, or nutritional deficiencies.
  • Completion of VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for GERD: The examiner will document their findings on the VA DBQ for GERD, which is then submitted to the VA Rater for further processing. Eventually, the VA Rater will either approve, deny, or defer your VA claim for GERD.

What Questions Will I Get Asked at a C&P Exam for GERD?

Here’s a list of questions the examiner is required to document on the DBQ for GERD at the conclusion of your exam:

Diagnosis Confirmation:

  • Questions to confirm the diagnosis of GERD, such as the presence of diagnostic tests (e.g., endoscopy, pH monitoring) and the date of diagnosis.

Frequency, Severity, and Duration of Symptoms:

  • Frequency of GERD symptoms (daily, weekly, monthly). Frequency means “how often.”
  • Severity of symptoms, how long they last, and their impact on daily activities. Severity means “how bad.” Duration means “how long.”
  • Presence of symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), or odynophagia (painful swallowing).


  • Questions about complications related to GERD, such as esophagitis, esophageal stricture, or Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Presence of any esophageal or extra-esophageal complications (e.g., laryngitis, cough, asthma, or dental problems related to acid reflux).


  • Types of treatments the veteran is receiving or has received (medications, lifestyle modifications, surgery).
  • Effectiveness of the treatment in controlling symptoms.
  • Any side effects of the treatment.

Impact on Daily Living:

  • How GERD symptoms affect the veteran’s ability to eat, sleep, and perform daily activities.
  • Whether the veteran has to take special precautions or make lifestyle changes due to GERD (e.g., sleeping in a particular position, avoiding certain foods).

Hospitalizations or Surgeries:

  • Any hospitalizations or surgeries related to GERD and their outcomes.

Additional Comments:

  • The examiner can include any additional observations or comments that might be relevant to the veteran’s disability claim for GERD.

How to Prepare for Your GERD C&P Exam

Here are some steps to help you prepare for your GERD exam:

  • Gather Records and Documents: Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnosis reports, treatment history, and any correspondence related to your GERD. This documentation will provide essential evidence to support your claim during the examination. Review the documents in detail and feel free to bring hard copies with you to the C&P exam for reference.
  • Create a Symptoms Diary: Keep a detailed log of your GERD symptoms, noting the frequency, severity, and duration of episodes. Document any factors that exacerbate or alleviate your symptoms, such as stress, spicy foods, or certain activities. This diary will help you articulate the impact of GERD on your work, life, and social functioning during the C&P exam.
  • List Functional Impacts: Make a list of specific ways in which GERD affects your ability to perform daily tasks and activities. This may include pain, sleep disturbances, increased sick leave, etc. Providing concrete examples of how GERD negatively impacts your daily functioning will strengthen your case during the exam.
  • Review the VA DBQ for GERD: It’s a good idea to review the GERD DBQ Form before your exam. Be prepared to describe the onset and progression of your GERD symptoms over time, as well as any treatments you have pursued and their effectiveness (if any).

Examples of Common Work, Life, and Functional Impacts of GERD

GERD can have serious impacts on veterans, affecting their work, life, and overall functioning.

Example Work Impacts of GERD

  • Decreased productivity: Symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, and regurgitation can disrupt concentration and focus, leading to decreased productivity at work.
  • Increased Sick Leave: Severe symptoms may necessitate taking time off work, leading to absenteeism and potential loss of income.
  • Difficulty in performing physically demanding tasks: GERD symptoms like chest pain and difficulty swallowing may make it challenging to perform physically demanding tasks, affecting certain occupations that require physical exertion.
  • Impaired communication: Hoarseness and throat irritation caused by GERD can affect speech, which may be problematic for individuals in professions that rely heavily on communication skills.

Example Life Impacts of GERD

  • Reduced quality of life: Chronic discomfort and pain associated with GERD can significantly diminish overall quality of life, affecting activities of daily living and enjoyment of leisure time.
  • Sleep disturbances: Nighttime reflux symptoms like heartburn and coughing can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day.
  • Social limitations: Fear of experiencing symptoms in social settings, particularly related to food and drink, may lead individuals to avoid social gatherings or dining out, impacting their social life and relationships.
  • Emotional distress: Living with a chronic condition like GERD can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, particularly if symptoms are severe and persistent.

Example Functional Impacts of GERD

  • Dietary restrictions: Individuals with GERD may need to avoid certain foods and beverages, such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and acidic foods, which can limit their dietary choices and enjoyment of meals.
  • Medication management: Managing GERD often requires taking medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 receptor antagonists, which may have side effects and require careful adherence to dosing schedules.
  • Healthcare expenses: Regular doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and medications can incur significant healthcare expenses, especially if GERD leads to complications requiring surgical intervention or long-term management.
  • Impact on physical health: Untreated GERD can lead to complications such as esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal strictures, which can have serious long-term consequences for physical health and may necessitate invasive treatments.

VA DBQ for GERD [Download]

The GERD DBQ will be completed electronically by the C&P examiner at your exam.

We’ve made a copy available for review and download below:

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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