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May 12, 2024

C&P Exam for Hearing Loss: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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If you’ve filed a VA Claim for Hearing Loss, you’re going to be scheduled for an in-person Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam.

In this high-value blog post, you’ll learn “what” to expect and “how” to prepare for the big day so you can get the VA rating and compensation you deserve.

Hearing Loss is a major problem for military veterans, especially those who served in jobs that exposed them to loud noises.

Hearing Loss is the #2 most claimed VA disability behind Tinnitus at #1.

Pro Tip: The VA rates Hearing Loss under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, DC 6100, Hearing Loss. VA Ratings for Hearing Loss range from 0 percent to 100 percent, with breaks at 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, and 90 percent although the average VA rating for Hearing Loss is 10 percent, and many veterans have a 0 percent rating. The highest scheduler rating for Hearing Loss is 100 percent, which means you have total deafness in both ears.

Summary of Key Points

  • Hearing Loss is Very Common in Veterans: Hearing Loss is the #2 most common VA disability claim behind Tinnitus at #1. So many veterans were exposed to loud noises on active duty.
  • VA Ratings for Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is rated by the VA under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, specifically under Diagnostic Code 6100, with ratings ranging from 0 percent to 100 percent. The ratings are given in 10 percent increments based on severity, with the highest rating of 100 percent indicating total deafness in both ears.
  • Purpose and Importance of C&P Exam: If you’ve filed a VA claim for hearing loss, you’ll undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam to confirm the diagnosis, determine if there’s a service connection, and assess the severity and impact of your hearing loss on your daily life.
  • What to Expect During the Exam: During the C&P exam, expect a thorough review of your medical history, discussion of your symptoms and noise exposure history, a physical examination of your ears, audiometric testing to chart hearing sensitivity, and the completion of the VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for Hearing Loss.
  • Preparation Tips: Prepare for your C&P exam by gathering all relevant medical records, creating a symptom diary to document the specifics of your hearing loss, and reviewing the Hearing Loss DBQ form to understand the types of questions and assessments you will encounter during the exam.

The Purpose of a C&P Exam for Hearing Loss

The purpose of a C&P exam for Hearing Loss is to determine three things:

  • (#1) Make or confirm a diagnosis of Hearing Loss, and
  • (#2) If there is a “nexus” for service connection (meaning your Hearing Loss was caused or made worse by your military service), and
  • (#3) The severity of your Hearing Loss symptoms in terms of frequency, severity, and duration as well as their negative impacts to your work, life, and social functioning.

6 Things to Expect During a VA Hearing Loss C&P Exam

Review of Medical History: The C&P examiner should start by reviewing your medical records, including any previous diagnoses, treatments, or evaluations related to Hearing Loss. Note: The examiner has access to the medical records and documents you submitted to the VA.

Noise Exposure History: The examiner should ask you about any past exposure to loud noises, such as military service-related noise exposure, occupational noise exposure, or recreational activities involving loud sounds. This information helps assess the likelihood that your Hearing Loss is related to your military service. For example, “I was exposed to loud aircraft engine noises on the flight line and didn’t wear proper hearing protection.”

Discussion of Symptoms: The examiner will ask you about your Hearing Loss symptoms, including when you first noticed them and how often you experience them. Common issues include the muffling of speech and other sounds, difficulty understanding words—especially against background noise—and trouble distinguishing specific words. This often leads to frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly. Veterans might also find themselves turning up the volume on televisions, radios, or mobile devices to better hear them. Socially, people with hearing loss may withdraw from conversations and avoid social settings due to the challenges in communication. Additionally, they may experience various sounds in their ears, such as buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, and humming, which can further complicate their ability to hear clearly.

Negative Impacts on Daily Life: Hearing loss can significantly impact both work and personal life. Professionally, it can lead to difficulties in understanding colleagues during meetings, handling phone calls, and detecting important safety alarms, potentially affecting job performance and safety. Socially, veterans might withdraw from conversations and avoid gatherings due to challenges in hearing, which can lead to isolation and emotional stress. This isolation can extend to daily activities like watching TV or attending public events, increasing frustration and decreasing overall quality of life.

Physical Examination: The examiner should conduct a physical examination of your ears and head to check for any visible signs of ear conditions that could contribute to Hearing Loss, such as earwax buildup, infections, or structural abnormalities.

Audiometric Testing: A VA C&P exam for Hearing Loss involves a series of verbal questions and diagnostic testing (Audiogram by an Audiologist). An audiogram is a chart that graphically represents a veteran’s hearing sensitivity across a range of frequencies and sound intensities. It is the primary tool used to document hearing ability and is crucial in diagnosing the type and degree of hearing loss.

Completion of DBQ for Hearing Loss: The examiner will document their findings on the VA DBQ for Hearing Loss (available for download below), 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 Hearing Loss.

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

During a C&P exam for Hearing Loss, veterans can expect to be asked a range of questions designed to assess the diagnosis, severity, causes, and negative impacts of their hearing loss.

Here are some typical questions that might be asked during the exam:

History of Hearing Loss:

  • When did you first notice your hearing loss?
  • Have you noticed a decline in your hearing ability over time?
  • Were there any specific military service events or exposures that you believe may have contributed to your hearing loss?

Symptoms and Severity:

  • In which situations do you find it difficult to hear?
  • Do you experience difficulty hearing in one or both ears?
  • How does background noise affect your ability to hear conversations?

Previous Diagnosis and Treatments:

  • Have you been previously diagnosed with hearing loss by a medical professional?
  • What treatments or hearing aids have you used, and how effective have they been?
  • Have you undergone any surgeries related to your ears or hearing?

Impact on Daily Life:

  • How does your hearing loss affect your ability to work?
  • Can you describe any specific incidents where your hearing loss has impacted your daily activities or social interactions?
  • Do you experience difficulties with communication in your personal or professional life due to hearing loss?

Military Service and Noise Exposure:

  • Can you detail the noise exposure you experienced during your military service?
  • Were you provided with and did you use hearing protection during exposure to loud noises?
  • Do you believe your hearing loss is connected to noise exposure during your military service?

Medical Tests and Procedures:

  • What was the outcome of any previous hearing tests (audiograms) you have taken?
  • Have you experienced any issues with ear infections, Hearing Loss, or other ear-related problems?
  • Are there any other health issues that may be affecting your hearing?

How to Prepare for Your VA Hearing Loss C&P Exam

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

Gather Records and Documents: Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnosis reports, treatment history, and any correspondence related to your Hearing Loss. 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 Symptom Diary: Keep a detailed log of your Hearing Loss symptoms, noting the frequency, severity, and duration of episodes. Document any factors that exacerbate or alleviate your symptoms, such as exposure to loud noises or certain activities. This diary will help you articulate the impact of Hearing Loss on your work, life, and social functioning during the exam.

List Functional Impacts: Make a list of specific ways in which Hearing Loss affects your ability to perform daily tasks and activities. This may include the daily challenges of hearing in work and social environments. Providing concrete examples of how Hearing Loss negatively impacts your daily functioning will strengthen your case during the exam.

Review the DBQ for Hearing Loss: It’s a good idea to review the Hearing Loss DBQ Form. Be prepared to describe the onset and progression of your Hearing Loss symptoms over time, as well as any treatments you have pursued and their effectiveness (if any). Additionally, be prepared to discuss how Hearing Loss impacts your mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

VA DBQ for Hearing Loss [Download]

Presently, the Hearing Loss DBQ is for Internal VA Use Only, and will be completed electronically by the C&P examiner at your exam.

However, we’ve made a copy available for 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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