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February 26, 2024

VA Tinnitus C&P Exam: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Last updated on March 8, 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.

If you’ve filed a VA claim for Tinnitus, chances are you’re going to be scheduled for a VA Tinnitus 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.

Tinnitus is a major problem for military veterans, especially subjective Tinnitus, which means only you can hear it.

That makes it extremely difficult to test and measure it during a C&P exam.

Pro Tip: The VA has proposed changes to how it will evaluate and rate Tinnitus in the future. In my opinion, these changes are bad for veterans, and the easy 10% rating for Tinnitus could soon be gone.

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What to Expect at Your C&P Exam for Tinnitus

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

Here’s six things you can expect during a VA Tinnitus 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 Tinnitus. 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 Tinnitus 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 Tinnitus symptoms, including when you first noticed them, how often you experience them, the intensity of the ringing or buzzing sensation, and whether they affect one or both ears. Remember, your VA rating for Tinnitus 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 Tinnitus affects your daily activities, such as sleeping, concentrating, working, socializing, and overall quality of life. Be honest and provide specific examples of how Tinnitus interferes with your ability to function normally. For example, “My Tinnitus is so severe that I have trouble falling asleep at night because I hear a hissing and buzzing sound in both ears.”
  • 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 Tinnitus, such as earwax buildup, infections, or structural abnormalities.
  • Audiometric Testing: A VA C&P exam for Tinnitus involves a series of verbal questions and diagnostic testing (Audiogram by an Audiologist). Note that there is no objective test for Tinnitus as it can’t be detected via an audiogram. Nevertheless, you will likely undergo a speech recognition test and a pure tone audiogram just like the C&P exam for Hearing Loss.
  • Completion of VA DBQ for Tinnitus: The examiner will document their findings on the VA DBQ for Tinnitus, 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 Tinnitus.

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

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

#1. Does the veteran report “recurrent” Tinnitus?

  • If yes, indicate the date and circumstances of the onset of Tinnitus.
  • Note: “Recurrent” Tinnitus is required to get a 10% VA rating.

#2. What is the etiology (cause or origin) of the veteran’s Tinnitus?

  • The veteran has a diagnosis of clinical Hearing Loss, and his/her Tinnitus is at least as likely as not (50% probability or greater) a symptom associated with the Hearing Loss, as Tinnitus is known to be a symptom associated with Hearing Loss.
  • Less likely than not (less than 50% probability) the veteran’s Tinnitus is a symptom associated with their Hearing Loss. Explain the rationale.
  • At least as likely as not (50% probability or greater) the veteran’s Tinnitus was caused by or a result of military noise exposure. Explain the rationale.
  • At least as likely as not (50% probability or greater) the veteran’s Tinnitus is due to a known etiology (e.g., Traumatic Brain Injury). Explain the rationale.
  • Less likely than not (less that 50% probability the veteran’s Tinnitus was caused by or the result of military noise exposure. Explain the rationale.
  • Cannot provide a medical opinion regarding the etiology of the veteran’s’ Tinnitus without resorting to speculation. Explain the rationale.

#3. What is the functional impact of the veteran’s Tinnitus?

  • Ask the veteran to describe in his or her own words the effects of Tinnitus (i.e., the current complaint on occupational functioning and daily activities).
  • Document the veteran’s response without opining on the relationship between the functional effects and the level of impairment (audiogram) or otherwise characterizing the response.

#4. Is the veteran’s Tinnitus negatively impacting ordinary conditions of daily life, including the ability to work?

  • If yes, describe the impact in the veteran’s own words.

How to Prepare for Your VA Tinnitus C&P Exam

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

  • Gather Records and Documents: Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnosis reports, treatment history, and any correspondence related to your Tinnitus. 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 Tinnitus 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 Tinnitus on your work, life, and social functioning during the exam.
  • List Functional Impacts: Make a list of specific ways in which Tinnitus affects your ability to perform daily tasks and activities. This may include difficulties with concentration, sleep disturbances, or challenges in social or work environments. Providing concrete examples of how Tinnitus negatively impacts your daily functioning will strengthen your case during the exam.
  • Review the DBQ for Tinnitus: It’s a good idea to review the Tinnitus DBQ Form. Be prepared to describe the onset and progression of your Tinnitus symptoms over time, as well as any treatments you have pursued and their effectiveness (if any). Additionally, be prepared to discuss how Tinnitus impacts your mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

VA DBQ for Tinnitus [Download]

Presently, the Tinnitus 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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