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April 1, 2024

How to ACE Your Burn Pit C&P Exam!

Last updated on April 2, 2024

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

Are you looking for tips on how to crush your upcoming burn pit C&P exam? 

Or are you wondering how to schedule your C&P exam? 

Then you’re in the right place. 

This post reveals and explains all the important things you need to know to ACE your burn pit C&P exam. 

Let’s get started by explaining a few basics. 


What is a Burn Pit C&P Exam?

A Compensation and Pension exam (C&P exam) is a medical exam conducted by a qualified VA physician (or a private physician that is contracted with the VA) that helps the VA determine if your disability is service-connected as well as the severity of your disability (which determines your rating percentage). 

In this post, I’m using “burn pit C&P exam” to mean a C&P exam for conditions that are caused by burn pit exposure, such as the conditions on the burn pit presumptive list

It’s worth mentioning that “Burn Pit C&P Exam” will not be on anything you receive for the VA. 

NOTE: The VA now refers to C&P exams as “VA claim exams.” 

During your C&P exam, the examiner will ask you several questions about the disability for which you’re claiming benefits. They might also conduct a few hands-on tests or scans if required. 

C&P exams can be in-person or virtual. It just depends on your condition. Mental health C&P exams, for example, are often conducted via telehealth. 

Do I Need a Burn Pit Exam?

Not everyone who files a VA claim (whether it’s related to burn pit exposure or not) will need a C&P exam. 

Remember, the purpose of a C&P exam is to help the VA determine how severe your disability is as well as whether or not it’s service-connected. 

If the VA can make that determination with the medical evidence that’s already in your records, then you likely won’t need an exam. 


How Do I Schedule a Burn Pit C&P Exam?

If you do need a C&P exam, the VA or a contracted physician will send you an appointment letter. This letter will have the date and time of your appointment. 

You might also be contacted by phone or email. 

You don’t want to accidentally miss your C&P exam, so make sure all your contact information is up to date with the VA. You can update your contact information on the VA’s website. 

NOTE: There is no way for you to initiate scheduling your exam. It’s all done by the VA or a contracted physician. 

When the VA or contracted physician contacts you, they will already have a date and time for your exam. If their date and time don’t work for you, you can reschedule. 

Confirm Your Appointment

After the VA or contracted physician contacts you with your appointment details, you’ll need to confirm the appointment. 

Call the number on the letter to confirm the place and time. If you’re contacted by phone, you can confirm the details while on the phone. 

You can request accommodations while on your confirmation call. For example, you can ask for help with transportation, or you can request a male or female physician. Whatever the accommodation you need is, just ask. Worst case scenario, they’ll just say no. 



Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

How to ACE Your Burn Pit C&P Exam

Now that I’ve explained a few basics about C&P exams, let’s talk about how to crush your burn pit C&P Exam. 

The number one thing you can do to have a favorable burn pit C&P exam is to show up prepared. 

The VA rater assigned to your case will rely almost entirely on the results of your C&P exam and the notes left by the examiner. It’s up to you to make sure those notes include all the information needed to prove your disability is service-connected and that you get the rating percentage you need. 

To help you prepare, I’ve provided a list of questions you could be asked during your burn pit C&P exam, as well as advice that applies to all C&P exams. 

Burn Pit C&P Exam Questions

The questions you’re asked during your burn pit C&P exam will depend on the examiner as well as your specific disability. Not all physicians conduct C&P exams the same way.  

However, they’ll likely get the questions they ask you from a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ)

DBQs are disability-specific forms that the VA uses to collect the information they need to make a rating decision. They didn’t used to be publicly available, but the VA recently released several of them. 

Examining physicians aren’t required to use a DBQ while conducting a C&P exam, but many use the form to guide the exam. 

Below are respiratory conditions on the burn pits presumptive list, as well as questions from their respective DBQ form

If you have any of these conditions, use the following possible burn pit C&P exam questions to prepare: 

  • Asthma, Chronic bronchitis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Sarcoidosis, Chronic rhinitis, Chronic sinusitis, Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, Emphysema, and Interstitial lung disease (ILD). 
    • Have you had any episodes of respiratory failure in the last 12 months? Tell the examiner about each time you experienced respiratory failure. They’ll want to know when it happened, how severe it was, how long it lasted, as well as what it took to fix it. 
    • Does your condition affect your ability to work? Tell the examiner if your condition makes you late to work, forces you to take frequent or prolonged breaks, or forces you to miss days of work. Tell them how often this happens and if it’s resulted in your employer taking disciplinary measures. 
    • Have you ever gone to the hospital or seen a doctor because your condition was worse than usual? Provide as much detail as you. The examiner needs to know how severe your flare-up was, how long you were in the hospital, and what treatment you were given. 
    • Do you have multiple respiratory conditions? Be sure to tell the examiner if you have more than one condition associated with burn pit exposure. 
    • What capacity do you have for exercise? Tell the examiner how your body reacts to physical exercise. If you’re able to exercise, tell them for how long and what intensity you’re capable of. Also, tell them your exercise capacity before developing your disability. This will show how the disability negatively affects your physical health. 
    • Do you have any scars due to your disability? Show the examiner your scars and describe to them how you got them. Tell them if they hurt or negatively affect your life in any way. 
    • Are you experiencing fevers, night sweats, or weight loss? Many of the disabilities listed above cause these three symptoms. Tell the examiner how often they occur and how severe they are, especially if they force you to miss work or impact your social life. 
    • Have you ever been prescribed bed rest because of your condition? Show the examiner the doctor’s note if you can. Tell them how long you were on bed rest and how it affected your professional and personal life. Did you miss work? Did you miss any big life events such as a wedding or funeral? Any detail helps. 
    • Do you need medical oxygen because of your condition? If carrying oxygen affects your ability to work, travel, do things around the house, run errands, etc., tell the examiner. 
    • Do you need corticosteroids because of your condition? Tell the examiner how long you’ve been taking them and how it impacts your life. For example, are they difficult to afford? 
    • Do you need an inhaler because of your condition? Tell the examiner how often you use it. If it doesn’t provide much relief, be sure to tell them that as well. 

NOTE: There are many cancers associated with burn pit exposure. However, there are no publicly available DBQs for these cancers, so they’re not included in the list above. 

You can view other DBQ forms on the VA’s website

Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR)

Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry

The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR) is a data collection project established by the VA in 2014. Its purpose is to help the VA study the potential health effects of exposure to burn pits and other airborne hazards during military service. 

Joining the registry is completely voluntary and can’t hurt your VA claim in any way. In fact, you can save your answers to the registry’s questionnaire and submit them with your VA claim, which could help your claim! 

Who Should Join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry?

Right now, you can only join the registry if you served in these countries any time after August 2nd, 1990: 

  • Iraq 
  • Kuwait 
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia 
  • Bahrain 
  • Qatar 
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) 
  • Oman 
  • Israel 
  • Egypt 
  • Turkey 
  • Jordan 
  • Gulf of Aden 
  • Gulf of Oman 
  • Waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea 
  • The airspace above these locations 

You’re also eligible if you served in these countries on or after September 11th, 2001: 

  • Afghanistan 
  • Syria 
  • Djibouti 
  • Uzbekistan 

If you can’t prove you were exposed to airborne hazards such as burn pit smoke, you can still register. Even if you’re sure you weren’t exposed to these things, you can still register. Direct exposure is not a requirement. 

You also don’t need to have any of the conditions or symptoms associated with airborne hazards to register. 

Whether you’re on active duty, retired, National Guard, or in the Reserves, you can register if you have served in the areas above. 

How to Register

Joining the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is easy! 

Just visit the VA’s website and click “Get Started.” Next, you’ll need to log into your VA account. 

Once you’re logged in, you’ll begin the questionnaire. You don’t have to finish the questionnaire in one sitting. You can save your progress and return to it later. 

How Do I Reschedule My C&P Exam?

Before trying to reschedule your C&P exam, keep in mind that doing so could delay the claims process.  

If you must reschedule, call the number on your appointment letter at least 48 hours in advance of your appointment. That number will likely be one of these four: 

You can also contact the VA directly at 800-827-1000 on Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. 

NOTE: You can only reschedule exams with contracted physicians once, and your new appointment must be within 5 days of your original appointment. If you’re not available during those 5 days, tell the contractor. Then call the VA at 800-827-1000, and they’ll start the scheduling process over again. 

What Happens if I Miss My Burn Pit C&P Exam?

If you miss your C&P exam, one of two things will usually happen: 

  1. If you missed your appointment for what the VA considers “good cause”, your C&P exam will be rescheduled. While this will delay your claim, it’s better than the alternative (see #2 below). 

Examples of good causes include: 

  • If someone in your immediate family dies 
  • If you’re homeless  
  • If you’re hospitalized 
  • If you have a terminal illness 

You can show the VA that you missed your appointment for good cause by uploading a letter using the claim status tool, by calling 800-827-1000 (TTY: 711), or by mailing a letter to: 

Department of Veterans Affairs  

Evidence Intake Center 

P.O. Box 4444 

Janesville, WI 53547-4444 


  1. The VA will decide your case based on the available evidence. If this happens, the result will likely not be in your favor. 

10 Pro Tips for All C&P Exams

  1. Familiarize yourself with your military, VA, and private medical records. 
  1. Review CFR, Title 38, Part 4, “Schedule for Rating Disabilities” 
  1. Don’t describe your best day. 
  1. Be “uncomfortably vulnerable.” 
  1. Explain how your disabilities are limiting your work, life, and social functioning. 
  1. Know your true story completely, plus any in-service incidents or stressor events. 
  1. Give the C&P Examiner a Detailed Picture of Your Life Before, During, and After Service 
  1. The C&P Examiner is NOT your friend; Your exam starts in the parking lot. 
  1. Bring hard-copy documents with you to the C&P Exam. 
  1. After your exam, ask your accredited VSO to download your C&P Exam results from VBMS. 

You can read more about these pro tips in our blog 10 EXPERT Tips to DOMINATE Your C&P Exam: The Ultimate Guide



Your burn pit C&P Exam is just one step in your journey to getting the VA disability benefits you’ve earned. It’s a long road, but we want you to know you’re not alone. 

Whether you’re pursuing VA disability compensation or other VA benefits, we’ve got your six! 

Check out our free resources page and our blog, and join our community to get the support you need. 

If you’d like 1-on-1 coaching, then take advantage of your FREE VA Claims Insider Discovery Call!  

This short but powerful call will get you connected with a VA claims expert who can set you on the right path to a winning claim. 

Phot of Clay Hutson

Clay Huston

Clay Huston is a former U.S. Army Reserves Blackhawk Pilot and officer. Clay enlisted in the Army in 2013 and was commissioned as a 2LT in 2017 after earning a business degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Since separating from the military, Clay has pursued a career as a writer. He also runs the nonprofit, which fundraises for Children’s Homes in Mexico.

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