Jim's Mailbag

Your 2020 Guide to Social Security Benefits
Whether you’re claiming Social Security in 2020, have been collecting benefits for years, or are still decades away, here’s what you need to know about this critically important retirement program.

Marijuana Accessories

An IMO by an expert  often makes the difference!

How To File a VA Disability Appeal
You have the right to appeal any benefits decision made by the Veterans Benefits Administration. The VA appeals process is set in law and is different from other judicial appeals processes. Find out how to file an appeal.

Has VA medical care caused you an injury or other harm?

You can sue the VA for medical malpractice but it's a complex process and you'll want lawyers who have

done this successfully in the past. There are strict time limits and draconian regulations to follow. 

​Get some advice today...call now!

Download VA benefit letters
To receive some benefits, Veterans need a letter

proving their status. 

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.

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?

Chronic Pain Is an Impossible Problem
A “safe” alternative to opioid painkillers

turns out to be not so safe.

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.

AT WAR
40 Stories From Women

About Life in the Military​   

"Not Many Women Get

to Do What I Do"

Military Sisterhood Initiative to go live February 18
A social platform to build peer

support community for women Veterans

VAWatchdog Dot Org

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. 

​Independent Medical Opinions
IMOs - IMEs - Nexus Letters - DBQs
Statements In Support Of Claims - Record Reviews​


In most cases you must prove the claim that you make. If you claim that you injured your knee in basic training but your medical records lack substantive support, you'll likely need the opinion of an expert who is experienced in disability medicine. The opinion may come in many forms, the IMO is the most common today. Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) are required and if you don't offer your DBQ completed by an expert of your choosing, VA will have one completed for you by their examiner at a C & P exam.


You may guess which will be more favorable to you.


Statements In Support Of Claims or Buddy Letters have little value unless they are very specific by a credible witness. A credible witness might be a battle buddy who was with you when you took mortar fire and you witnessed violent death up close and personal. Your mom, your spouse, your pastor and high school teachers who support you because you've always been a good citizen aren't credible witnesses. What's your spouse going to say? VA knows all about bias, even if it isn't outright. 
You need an expert. If you submit a favorable IMO with your claim, you are much more likely to prevail with little or no fuss and no appeal!    Go for it!

​​How To File A VA Claim​


We are a DIY site.


You DO NOT need any sort of "VA rep", VSO or anyone else to help you.
If you need help with forms, ask a family member.
You are not allowed to use a lawyer unless you're appealing a denied claim.
Filing a disability benefits claim isn't difficult...you CAN DIY.
Take your time.  Follow the instructions.  Be brief, be precise.
You can file electronically or using mail and fax.

Things To Remember When Filing A Disability Claim
The internet has done a lot of wonderful things for humanity, and it has changed the way we do everything.

Treater, Disability Assessor, or Forensic Expert:
A Trap in Disability Claims

Although this article focuses on mental health disability claims, when you ask your doctor (rather than an independent expert) to help you with your disability claim paperwork, here are many of the reasons the doctor may object. This is a good example of why the VAWatchdog recommends an Independent Medical Opinion to support your claim or appeal.

For Better Brain Health, Preserve Your Hearing
Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia, exceeding that of smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and social isolation.

Hello Jim...

Can you help me with....

​Family Medical Leave Act problems after husband's deployment

Vet being harassed at work

VA doctor malpractice

Child support arrears create hardship

68 year old veteran with cancer

When did the Vietnam era start

Radiation treatment for prostate cancer and now C& P exam

Diabetes claim secondary to OSA

Revisiting child support order

Gulf War veteran behavior found to be willful misconduct

​All these and many more answers to your questions can be found at 

Jim's Mailbag

Florida Veterans

Medical Marijuana Card
Tell the doctor you saw it on VAWatchdog

and ask about veterans discounts!​

Where should we retire?

We get $2,470 a month from Social Security

and want a warm, friendly city near the ocean.

VA launches online patient portal for veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

announced the launch of an online patient portal

this month that will provide service veterans

with digital access to their patient statements.

Be a  VA  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

RIGHT NOW?
​You are already authorized

to use an urgent

care clinic!

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 register...you 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.

38 CFR Book C 

Schedule for Rating Disabilities

Medical Malpractice - Veterans 1151 Claims

Hodes Milman LLP

​VA Malpractice Attorneys Helping Veterans Harmed By The VA​
​​Veterans Healthcare Rights - Federal Tort Claims -

VA Medical Malpractice Claims, Misdiagnosis, ​Hospital Negligence, Medical Errors
For a review of your VA malpractice case contact our lawyers today.
Our firm serves throughout the nation, and is one of the few firms to have specialized experience in VA malpractice cases.
Call Now!  (949) 640-8222​​

PAPER Evidence Records

and Claims All Go Here

​V A Claims Intake Center
PO BOX 4444
JANESVILLE, WI

53547- 4444
Toll Free Fax:

844-531-7818​

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

Should I file a claim?

Potential VA claims?

​What am I missing in the VA claims process?

​r/VeteransBenefits

Best way to check on a supplemental claim online?

​Confused on what to do with claim.

​Dependent status with education benefits.

​Suing the VA for negligence and malpractice.​​

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. 

VA Urgent Care Pharmacy Locations
Find VA-approved urgent care/retail location

pharmacies near a specific

address or ZIP code, or search by VA Facility.

How To File A Claim For VA Disability (and many other) Benefits


How do I file my claim?
You can file online right now.

Filing a VA disability claim is not hard to do. There is no mystery to it.

The VA is not out to get you but it is a badly broken machine and it doesn't function very well.

This means that the burden is on YOU to get your claim filed right the first time.

The goal is to avoid an appeal.

The best way to avoid an appeal is to get an IMO done right now.

More on that as we go along.

We do not believe that you need a "rep" to help you. Most of those people aren't as

smart as you are and all they can do is to help you fill out some forms.

You can do that from your home computer...it just isn't that big of a deal.


Read on, do your homework, file your claim.

Thinking of Filing a VA Disability Claim?
Think Again. 

​We Have A Proposal For You To Consider.

​Claims, Denials, NODs & Appeals
The Wheel Just Keeps On Turning
We propose that veterans who are filing claims take charge of the process, avoiding the flawed C & P exam 
report by having their own Independent Medical Opinion and DBQs completed by expert doctors who are 
not employees of the VA. Although this brings about an expense the veteran must bear, we believe that 
any out of pocket expense is an investment toward a faster claims resolution and is thus justified.
​Keep Reading...

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

Website Monitoring Tool

The NPRC
Military Records DD 214

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

arrangements planning

Veteran Disability Claims 

Nexus and IMO Letters

How to file a VA disability claim
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation

or increased disability compensation.

Google Tracks You

and we don't.
​DuckDuckGo apps block

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

Traveling?

​How to ensure seamless care while traveling

Misuse of Certain Nonopioid Analgesics on the Rise
Gabapentin, Baclofen May Be Seen

as Opioid Alternatives

Training book used for VA

'How To Lie With Statistics'

What You Should Know about Disability and Debt

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

INN TO THE FOREST

​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!

Welcome to the KnowVA Knowledge Base

Locate information more quickly and efficiently

How Divorce, Alimony, and Child Support

Affect Veterans' VA Benefits
VA benefits can be garnished only for spousal

or child support, and only under certain conditions.

Robert Wilkie  <robert.wilkie@va.gov>  ​855-948-2311

Social Security Scammers Are Trying a New Trick
These criminals have added fake emailed documents to their repertoires -- often using the official SSA letterhead.

One More Reason You Need An Independent Medical Opinion

VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION

Accuracy of Claims Decisions Involving Conditions of the Spine

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!