The Musculoskeletal System

​Bones, Joints, Muscle Injuries


Crisis Line Is Here

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C & P Exams


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C&P Service Clinician’s Guide

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process...learn what the

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be prepared to win your claim!

Veterans Benefits

Administration Reports

​Detailed Claims Data    Status Reports
Reports contain data covering claims inventory, claims backlog, claims accuracy, and Fully Developed Claims. 

Below you'll find much of the law, the regulations and the rules that govern our benefits. Doing your own research and understanding what effect all this has on you can be an onerous task but these are some of the things you need to understand. Taking the time to learn this stuff will bring you a lifetime of benefits...

Go For It!

U.S. Code​ ​Title 38



Travel Pay

Since the VA adopted the new mileage application via the internet, I haven't received any travel money. I checked with my travel clerk and he told me that there is a big back log here in Florida. Have others experienced this problem? Thank you Jim.

Jim's Reply:
I'm in Florida so I feel your pain.
We're supposed to be reimbursed a per mile amount for certain travel to and from medical care. In my time with VHA I've seen long lines and over an hour wait to receive a few dollars gas money. Then we went to a fill-out-the-form system. The check-in kiosks were introduced a few years back and those worked well other than you had to remember to sign out and sign in again to submit the travel voucher.
Not all that long ago I checked in to my small clinic and the kiosks were unplugged and parked in a corner. I was told to check in the old school way and only when I asked, I was given an old form to complete for travel pay. I was told the kiosks were gone forever.
I returned to that clinic 2 weeks later and the check in kiosks were back, plugged in and ready to go. There was no option for travel reimbursement, I was told to go to the Internet and figure it out. I haven't seen any deposits either.
I don't have any answer for you other than...welcome to your VA. They care!

What You'll Find Here

 Up-To-Date News About Your Benefits, 

Headlines Important To You, How-To  Articles 

& Links to Pros Who Can Help

Explore Your

SMC Benefits

THE VAWatchdogDotOrg   has been advocating for veterans rights to their hard earned disability benefits since 2005. We publish carefully curated facts, not fiction or rumors from self proclaimed Internet experts.  

The PACT Act is passed and now it's up to VBA to ratify the verbiage that Congress set up and start processing claims. What can you expect? The usual. Confusion will reign supreme and claims

will be inappropriately denied and many appeals will be filed.  All that really matters is that you shouldn't wait to begin to file your well grounded claims today. Time to get busy!  More updates here soon.../s/  Jim

Are You Having A Claims Crisis?

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Be sure to include your DOB, your last 4, contact info... a couple of numbers, your preferred email and such. Describe the problem as briefly as you can. 

VA Military Health History

Pocket Card

Did you see combat, enemy fire,

or casualties?  Were you or a buddy wounded, injured or hospitalized?​ 

​Do you have a claim pending for illness or injury related to your military service?

​Do you have a service-connected condition?

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Stateside Legal Help For Veterans

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connect and begin to heal.

Right. Now.

A veteran is entitled to disability compensation if he or she were

(1) discharged or released from the military under conditions other than dishonorable,

(2) their disease or injury was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, and

(3) the disease or injury was not the

result of the their own willful

misconduct or abuse of drugs.

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Combined Ratings Table

"VA Math"

Where 60% + 40% = 70%

We’ve Got Your Six!
If you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree,

see if you qualify for UA Military Tuition Grant.

C & P Exams TDIU Benefit

I forgot to tell the examiner some things, 

now what should I do?


What You Won't Find Here

 User Fees, Hidden Fees,

Rumors, Requests For Donations,

Mailing Lists or Registration Requirements

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

Jim writes extensively about VA and Social Security disability benefits. 
Jim's Mailbag is a regular column featured at  Stateside Legal  where veterans, servicemembers,
and family members can  ask Jim their questions  about VA and Social Security disability benefits. 

The Genitourinary System

Kidney Disease, Prostate Cancer


I had sixteen months in RVN,  '66-'67. In 2019, I had an ischemic stroke. An MRI showed several previous strokes before that. VA denied my claim. Is it worth pursuing an appeal or should I wait and see if Congress acts on the Bill to recognize ischemic strokes as something Agent Orange exposure causes?? Thanks.

​Jim's Reply:
It's unfortunate that ischemic stroke caused by carotid artery disease isn't recognized as a presumptive condition when ischemic heart disease is. Ischemic stroke is caused by narrowing of the arteries in your neck whereas IHD is caused by narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. These vessels are a couple inches from each other and the mechanism of the disease is the same for each. Yet somehow the decision was made that one would be presumptive, the other not.
However, it is what it is and your carotid artery disease is not presumptive to agent orange exposure.
You can file and win a claim however. The first way and the most effective is if you are rated for diabetes...and many Vietnam veterans can file carotid artery disease and a subsequent ischemic stroke as secondary to the service connected diabetes. Otherwise you can seek an independent medical opinion or a 'nexus letter' from a qualified physician who is of the opinion that agent orange caused or contributed to your carotid artery disease.
In any case an Independent Medical Opinion is likely to be necessary. Yes, I do think it's worth pursuing an appeal and were I you I'd go for the IMO and I'd also speak with a veterans law attorney.
While this may seem like a lot of fuss, you'll be happy that you did it all should another stroke come along in the future. Good luck sir.

Pre-existing conditions

When I was a pre-teenager I broke both of my wrist, two years apart. When I joined the Navy at 19 years old I noted the wrist fractures on my entrance physical. I am now having severe wrist pain and intend to file a disability claim for aggravation. I do not have any documented issues in my military medical records. So my question is: Can pre -existing conditions like these be service connected? I was a Navy (CB) Construction Battalion Builder in Vietnam in 1970. I am currently seeing a civilian Rheumatologist and am waiting on test results for arthritis. My disabilities include PTSD , Diabetes II and some others. Currently at 80%. Thank You.

​​Jim's Reply:
 'Can preexisting conditions like these be service connected?'
Yes, absolutely. This is too often a steep uphill climb but with the appropriate evidence and logical presentation, you may have an opportunity to prove service connection.
You'll need an Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) written by a professional who speaks the language of the VA rater. While your rheumatologist may (or may not) agree that military service caused, aggravated  or contributed to your current disabling wrist conditions, how the opinion is phrased can make or break the claim for you. If you think your doctor is going to do a good job, go for it. Otherwise talk with an IMO doctor to have your records reviewed by a pro who does this every day.
Good luck!


Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 – What Should Veterans Know?

​​Recently, Congress passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 which allows veterans, their family members, and others who were stationed, worked or resided on the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for at least thirty (30) days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and sustained injuries due to exposure to contaminated water to file suit for financial compensation. 

Presumptive Service Connection  for Rare Respiratory Cancers Due to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter

Industrial Solvents?

Hi Jim I am doing some research for a veteran I represent. Have you by any chance ever come across any data with the specific ingredients contained in the original formulary of PD680 before it was replaced with PRF 680? Any information you might have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Jim's Reply:
There are so many solvents that we used it's hard to keep track of all of them. Benzene, Acetone, PCE, TCE...there are many more. I used Trichloroethylene to clean steam pipes of autoclaves in the hospital where I worked and we thought little of safety precautions.
Since I worked in the operating rooms at  the 98th General Hospital, we had access to Ether...another powerful cleaner (and anesthetic)...not recommended because it's highly came in lead and tin cans so it couldn't spark and explode.
Cosmoline was a petroleum based substance that the Army coated everything (particularly weapons in storage) with and the only thing that would take it off was a rag dipped in a gallon of TCE and a lot of elbow grease.
I doubt that I have any knowledge of solvents that you haven't already seen. I did a quick search and this was new to me and may be similar to what you're looking for.
For what it's worth, any time I want to help a veteran service connect TCE or other solvent exposure I go straight to an IMO. The Independent Medical Opinion by a board certified expert shouldn't be underestimated when it comes to winning claims. TCE and other solvent exposure and a given disabling condition can be a hard one to pin down without an expert opinion. 
Good luck!

Many service members use industrial solvents in regular military tasks​Benzene   Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)   Acetone    Trichloroethylene (TCE)   Xylenes​

38 CFR Book C Schedule for Rating Disabilities 

This collection tells you thestandards you must meet to be awarded a % rating for a given condition. Below we've selected a few of the most frequently needed sections of 

 The Schedule

Impairment of Auditory Acuity

​Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Federal Tort and

Section 1151 Claims
When something goes wrong and

the veteran suffers an injury or

death due to the negligence of

a federal employee, the veteran

or his/her spouse may pursue

claims under the

Federal Tort Claims Act