How Do You Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits?
Information on social security disability benefits

Website Monitoring Tool

Presumptive Benefits...what are they?

When you claim that a disabling condition is caused by military service, you have to prove that allegation.

Or do you?

Your Health

Urgent Care Centers

One of the most important benefits you have today is

the authorization to use an urgent care center

near to you. But first, you have to

print your paperwork

to take with you. Don't wait until you need this

benefit to prepare for it. Read this now,

print your papers and be prepared!

What You Should Know about Disability and Debt

There Are Protections...When it comes to debt collection, disability income enjoys special status.


​How to ensure seamless care while traveling

How Much Can I Earn Without Losing

My Social Security?
The amount you can earn will depend on your

age and through which program you're

getting Social Security benefits.

Veteran Disability Claims: Nexus and IMO Letters

To meet the nexus requirement, the veteran must have an evaluation by a physician that will establish that the veteran is indeed disabled and also that his disability is as likely as not caused by his military service.  There are two methods used to establish such a nexus; one is independent medical examination and the other is independent medical opinion.

Should You Get Medicare

Supplement Plan F?

How about  Medicare Parts A and B?

Maybe Part F+? Part D? 

​Oh, unless you live in

Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin.

​Confused? Just wait until you hear about 

programs such as Medicare

Part C or a Medicare Advantage policy.

Jim's Mailbag

No-Cost Flu Shot Options for Veterans

This year, enrolled Veterans of the VA health care system have several options to get a flu shot. VA now offers more options, easy access, and seamless records.

​ When and Where to get your flu shot today

Marijuana Accessories

Upload evidence to support

your disability claim
If you’ve filed a claim for disability compensation, you can continue uploading more evidence for up to one year to support your claim. Evidence may include supporting documents like medical test results, doctor’s reports, and other records. Upload your evidence online now.

An IMO by an expert  often makes the difference!

Be a Volunteer.

I did that for years & it's

the best thing ever. Get 

into the belly of the beast.

VA  loves  volunteers!

Do You Need

Medical Care

​You are already authorized

to use an urgent

care clinic!

Owe VA Money??? 

​​Submit A Waiver Request

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked

To Loneliness And Isolation For Seniors

Did you know that hearing loss and tinnitus are the

most commonly rated veterans disabilities? Did you

know that hearing loss and tinnitus can cause

other secondary conditions, particularly mental

health problems like depression and loneliness?

Jim's Mailbag

Jim Strickland is a Vietnam era Army veteran and nationally recognized expert on VA disability benefits

and a member of the Stateside Legal Website Advisory BoardJim's Mailbag, is a regular column where veterans,

servicemembers, and family members can  ask Jim their questions about VA and Social Security disability benefits.  

You can browse all of these Q&As here, and search the Jim's Mailbag archives for helpful answers.

VAWatchdog Dot Org

Key findings about America’s military veterans

​​The experiences of post-9/11 veterans differ from

those who served in previous eras. Post-9/11

veterans more likely to have been deployed,

seen combat, experienced emotional trauma


Military Records DD 214

Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs)
Official Personnel Folders (OPF)

Can VA Disability Compensation Be Used

to Calculate Child Support or Income?

​Veterans' disability benefits are compensation for

the veteran's impaired earning capacity and are intended to "provide reasonable and adequate compensation for disabled veterans and their families." They are not supposed to be for the sole support of the veteran, but can be counted in child support calculations to provide for the veteran's dependents as well. If the veteran wasn't disabled, he would be earning an income upon which the court would base child support; since disability benefits replace that income, child support can be based upon it.

Hey Jim...

Can you offer me some advice about;

​Discharge upgrade from "general under honorable", a Statement in Support of Claim, Hypertension and aortic stenosis, Total Knee Replacement, Married only one year and now divorcing, Endoscopic sinus surgery before separation from the USAF, Heart diseases and Agent Orange, Facing eviction from home of 20 years, TDIU and DOD disability, Can't get medical because supposedly get ChampVa, Korean vet and Agent Orange, Mother is VA fiduciary but won't give vet $$, Bad paper discharge for smoking pot, Becoming guardian for son with TBI, Getting service-connected rating for injury, SSDI denial even though 100% P & T for PTSD...

and many other topics that affect your life.

Yes...I'll answer just about any question you have, I'm privileged to have resources that I can ask when I don't know the answer...often enough as it happens.

We publish the messages we get from you anonymously, we won't use your name or give up your email address. We publish your emails exactly as they arrive here otherwise and we share the answer with other vets and their families so we all benefit.

We'll be around...ask us.​

Why You Need An IMO!

Accuracy of Claims Decisions Involving

Conditions of the Spine

​The OIG determined that VBA incorrectly

processed more than half

of the 62,500 veterans’ claims.

Veteran Proud

You've Arrived at the VAWatchdog Dot Org!
​Welcome Home
We've been keeping veterans informed of news and events important to them since 2005.
You'll find all you need to file your claim and referrals to professionals who can help you when things don't go well. 
What you won't find here is unending chat or opinions from strangers who like to think of themselves as experts. 
Our goal is to ensure that you are awarded the benefits you earned with your service to our country. 

We're here to help you take charge of your benefits, and that is all.

Extra Schedular Rating

​Extra schedular ratings under 38 C.F.R. § 3.321(b)

​How can I get an extra schedular rating?

​To receive an extra schedular rating the veteran must first show that the veteran’s conditions result in a disability picture that is not covered by the schedule of ratings. 

Wounded Warrior Project Veterans Benefits

​C&P Service Clinician’s Guide
Scheduled For A C & P???    Filing A Claim?
This is a must read for you!!!​
I've been posting this again and again over the years 
and it's still one of the best ways I know to win 
your case. Published in 2002 the principles and much of 
the verbiage still applies and is in daily use at the VA. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Craig Bash M.D., MBA
The Veterans Medical Advisor

​If you are an honorably discharged veteran, you served your

country well and you earned certain benefits.​ Sad to say, sometimes

it can be difficult for the veteran to obtain the earned benefits

guaranteed by law.​ Veterans need a recognized medical expert who

knows the VA system. As a disabled veteran himself and a respected,

board certified physician, Dr. Bash fits the need—and adds even further

insight as a VA-accredited service organization representative. 

​​Call   925-381-7561    Email treacherous, drug addicted, philandering, worthless, alcoholic, cheating, lying, violent, fat, stupid ex-wife/husband

is a 100% disabled veteran who is 8 months behind on child support for the 6 kids we have together. She/he tells me there isn't a

damn thing I can do about it since the VA disability money is protected for use only by the veteran and can't be garnished.

What can I do?

You can seek an apportionment. An apportionment is pretty much the same thing as a garnishment of wages but the apportionment is administered by the VA.  You can learn how to file an apportionment here

Hey Jim, I went to a fairly routine check-up appointment a couple weeks ago and I was shocked and awed when my primary care provider told me that when they drug screened me that marijuana was detected. I didn't really know what to say and since she didn't have any more to say about it we finished up and I left. I've thought it over since then and I believe my rights have been violated since I wasn't told I'd be drug screened. What business is it of the VA to know whether I use drugs or not?

Most Americans would agree that the results of a drug screen may be somewhat disruptive if those results were to be broadcast to others. You might not want your friends or employer to know, for example. But most would agree that there's a real drug problem in America that needs to be treated...not prosecuted but treated as a health care problem. How do we learn our own health care status? Often enough, lab work to show the status of our kidneys, liver, pancreas and drug intake. WHOA...treat drug abuse like the disease it is and the issue gets complex. While I understand your angst,  I support drug screening  for every adult as a part of their routine health care. 

Hey Jim, I'm a Vietnam veteran who had boots on the ground...two tours. I came home, got busy and didn't look back. I didn't know that VA existed most of my life but now I have prostate cancer and heart disease, both of those are  presumptive conditions  to agent orange exposure...I get most of that. But since I didn't know about VA I've existed with these conditions since 2002 and I've had treatments in the civilian sector...I'm fortunate enough to have health insurance through my job at a local business where I worked a long time. I've started filing the claims with a local VSO but I'm being told there won't be any back pay since I didn't know enough to file when my disease was diagnosed. This is bullshit, VA never told me about anything like agent orange or  filing claims.  I'm sick because of my service and I need help!

I understand all too well. Many of us had no clue that there was a VA and often enough we heard horror stories (true or not) that kept us away. I didn't understand how it worked back then and missed opportunities to appeal and file incidental claims so it took me years and years longer than it should have to recover the benefits I earned. I learned that the effective date of a claim is the day we file unless there are extraordinary circumstances and there are never extraordinary circumstances. VA will tell us that they publish far more information publicly than most federal organizations and that you have to do your part and take it in. Ultimately this is one of those things you may want to let go. Your effective date, the day benefits and all associated timing begins will be the date you filed, not a minute before.

Veterans Psych Evaluations
 Brett Valette, Ph.D.

As an expert in psychological evaluations, Dr. Valette provides 

Independent Medical Evaluations (IME), Independent Medical Opinions (IMO),

nexus letters, ratings reviews for all psychological conditions. 
Some Wounds Can't Be Seen
Contact Us Today

These are the most frequently asked questions I've received over the years.

I won't try to rank them in any particular order although it's easy to say that questions about divorce and how VA disability money may be accounted for by the family court are always at the top of the pile.

Other than that, I'll publish them randomly as we go along.​ Most will be presented as generic amalgams of the hundreds of times I've been asked something similar. Others I'll publish just as they come to me, misspellings, half-truths and rants.

Jim...I'm getting a divorce from my treacherous, drug addicted, philandering, worthless, alcoholic, cheating, lying, violent, fat, stupid wife/husband. I'm a 100% disabled veteran and I've told him/her that she can't touch my disability pay since I earned that and it's all I have to live on. He/she wants me to pay support for the 6 kids we have together and I've explained that I don't have to do that because my VA money is mine, all mine. Help me convince this low life piece of trash I mistakenly married that since I'm a veteran I owe him/her not a damn thing.

Veterans disability pay is meant to replace income that the veteran would otherwise be capable of earning except for the service connected disabling conditions. Every family court will consider VA disability pay to be income and the money must be factored in to any child support or alimony decisions. You can learn a lot more about divorce and the obligations that may come with divorce here.

We receive many questions about  divorce,  child support obligations, and so on. The answers never differ.

Thomas J. Seiter, Jr., M.D.
Independent Medical Opinions

Disability Benefit Questionnaires (DBQ's)
Service & Civilian Medical Record Reviews
Nexus Letters

Get In Touch With Dr. Seiter

Jim, I'm really pissed off at the VA examiner who performed my  C & P exam  yesterday. She didn't look at the records I brought, she didn't examine my arm like I asked and I was in and out of the room in 10 minutes. I want to file a complaint and I want to see the report she made before my claim goes any further. This isn't fair.

The worst thing we can do is to interrupt the process. The process of filing a claim is simple. You submit a form and any evidence you have. Your form is entered into the system and you are scheduled for an exam. After the exam that report goes back to your folder and eventually is in front of a rater. A decision is made and you're informed. If you disagree with the decision,  you file a NOD  and you're off to the races for an appeal. If you choose to interrupt the process, the train comes off the tracks. When you complain about the examiner (and almost everyone does) VA has to halt any progress on your claim while they investigate. The investigation, such as it may be, will always lead to you having another C & P exam where you'll be known as a hostile and complaining person. You get the idea, all this takes time and adds steps that are prone to mistakes. Get the C & P done and suck it up and keep quiet. If you don't like your decision, appeal. If you do like your decision (surprise!) you're done. Be careful what you ask for...

Hey Jim, I bought a house almost 2 years ago and I used my VA loan certificate. I've since learned things about the house that I didn't know then and it looks like it may cost me a lot of money to have repairs and upgrades done to get it turned into the house I thought I was buying. The realtor who sold me the home isn't in business any longer so I'm not sure what to do? How do I get some help?

I'm not sure what you're looking for? When we buy a home one of the first rules is that it is up to us to do our own due diligence. We can't trust home inspectors or realtors to be 100% invested in our security, that's our job. Unless you can prove some sort of fraud took place and get a local real estate lawyer interested, any future repairs are very likely on you. Yeah, it's frustrating to have to shell out big money unexpectedly, but's a part of home ownership you have to prepare happens.

Hey Jim, My disabled veteran boyfriend (girlfriend, son, daughter, cousin, neighbor, et al) has been arrested and jailed because of a false accusation that s/he had a gun and tried to rob some people. That isn't at all what happened but the police here don't like veterans and he's being framed. He needs a lawyer who will fight for his freedom and justice. He doesn't have any money since he is just out of the rehab program so he needs a lawyer who will be able to help a disabled veteran for free.

Once we leave active duty and become veterans, we soon morph into the creatures called civilians. As civilians we have all the rights and obligations of any citizen...we can get in trouble and then we can work really hard to get ourselves out of the trouble we got into. Nobody much cares that you're a veteran when you break the law. The handcuffs and jail will come first and any consideration to your past may come much later. Criminal defense lawyers don't work for free just because you're a vet. If you have problems with VA there may be free or less expensive help available for you. If you go and get yourself arrested and brought up on serious charges,  you'll find out the definition of lonely  PDQ. You're on your own.

Hey Jim, My hearing sucks. I'm hardly 40 years old and after 2 OEF/OIF tours I have ringing in my ears that makes me crazy and as if that isn't bad enough I can't hear hardly anything people say to me. It makes my work really hard to deal with and I'm afraid I could lose my job. I filed a claim a year ago with a local VSO (who left soon after) and after a quick exam and hearing test I've finally gotten a letter that tells me I have been rated as 0% service connected for hearing loss and 10% for tinnitus. Oh...I got hearing aids that aren't really doing much. The ratings seem low, do you agree? I'm having a helluva time and don't know what I should do?

I hear you brother...  Ouch, sorry. I guess the problem is we don't hear each other very well. The number one claims and ratings at VA are for hearing loss and tinnitus. Whether we serve in active combat or not, the job calls for us to be exposed to a lot of noise...acoustic trauma. In my years of advocating for veterans I've witnessed the most absurd denials for hearing loss and tinnitus that you can imagine. My own father was denied his claim for hearing loss. He served on Iwo Jima and in Korea retiring as an E-9 after 20. His specialty...ordnance. VA denied his hearing claim because there was no record of his serving in combat. The Purple Hearts he was awarded apparently didn't count. I tell you that to let you know what you're dealing with and that you need some expert help. You need to  appeal  and you may want to  retain a lawyer  for that. You need to consider  secondary conditions  that are being caused, contributed to or aggravated by the hearing loss and tinnitus. You'l want to think about whether or not hearing loss is causing you to be depressed or become housebound and if so, get a  mental heath IMO.

Google Tracks You

and we don't.
​DuckDuckGo apps block

Google's hidden trackers.
​The world needs an alternative

Robert Wilkie  <>  ​855-948-2311

November 19th 2019

Training book used for VA

'How To Lie With Statistics'


Nothing happens until

you complete the

form. Get over it.

Submit your claim ​21-526EZ

Other-than-honorable discharge?

You’re still eligible for VA mental health care​


​Lodging & Camping in southern Illinois with access to the Shawnee National​

We offer lodging, camping,

​stabling, corral, pasture,

access to a hunting lease and

discounts for America's

military veterans!

Get your VA medical records online
Our online tools can help you view, organize,

and share your VA medical records and personal

health information. Find out if you’re eligible

and how to sign in to start using these tools.

In Future Wars, the U.S. Military Will

Have Nowhere to Hide
New technologies enable Russia and China

to destroy U.S. bases and logistics networks

—including those on the homeland.

Found in Gourmet Foods


So it's healthy, Right?

How to download VA benefit letters
To receive some benefits, Veterans need a letter proving their status. Access and download your VA Benefit Summary Letter (sometimes called a VA award letter) and other benefit letters and documents online.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate
The IT Support Professional Certificate, developed by Google and hosted on Coursera, can help you become ready for an entry-level job in IT support in under six months. No experience is necessary.

VA Releases Survivors Quick Start Guide
Reference guide to help during final

arrangements planning

Overpayment? VA proposing to claw back

money from your benefits? Submit a Compromise Offer to the Debt Management Center. 

This is the only thing that works.

Give veterans more health care options!
Tell your lawmaker

Veterans deserve more choice

Florida Veterans

Medical Marijuana Card
Tell the doctor you saw it on VAWatchdog

and ask about veterans discounts!​

Why Getting a Diagnosis Matters

​A diagnosis does so much more than get noted in your medical history. It also can help you apply for programs like Social Security Disability and medical marijuana cards. And maybe even more importantly, it can help you explain yourself to friends, colleagues and family.

Dr. David Anaise

Physician - Surgeon - Veteran

Veterans Law Attorney

The VAWatchdog

doesn't ask for donations, we don't have fees, we don't ask you to can't find a way to give us your money. We're supported by advertising. When you shop via the VAWatchdog,

we'll get a small piece of that.

You get top quality at a good price and you support our mission.

Thank you!!!

​Create or update your will fast / 100% free

Make your will with FreeWill today

Healthcare directives, 

proxies, living wills and durable financial power of attorney.

All are free to use.

Veterans Benefits on Reddit

VA Launchpad for Veterans

​The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Launchpad

App for Veterans (VA Launchpad) contains select VA applications (apps) for Veterans and their Caregivers.

New apps will automatically appear in the VA Launchpad when they become available. Organizing VA health information and resources into five categories, it quickly accesses and launches the VA app of your choice. With VA Launchpad, VA intends to save you time and help you better integrate available VA apps into your life.

The Schedule For Rating Disabilities

If you're thinking of filing a claim or initiating an appeal of a denied claim, this is your new best friend. The details of exactly what you need to meet a rating are here and in use every day. Yes, it's complex. Yes, it's cumbersome. Yes, knowing how to use The Schedule is a necessity if you want to file a successful claim. Go for it!

Social Security and You

Vets being duped by Social Security rumor mill

40 Stories From Women About

Life in the Military​   

"Not Many Women Get to

Do What I Do"

Everything you ever wanted to know about how

the VA benefits system works but were afraid to ask.
Welcome to the

KnowVA Knowledge Base

PAPER Evidence Records

and Claims All Go Here

​V A Claims Intake Center
PO BOX 4444

53547- 4444
Toll Free Fax: