The Musculoskeletal System

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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. 

Entitlement To Service Connection

for bilateral foot disability claimed as secondary to carbon tetrachloride exposure.

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 User Fees, Hidden Fees, Rumors,​ 

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or Registration Requirements.

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C & P Exams??

You should read:

C&P Service Clinician’s Guide

Veterans Benefits

Administration Reports

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

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!

Disability benefits can enhance your independence and help you care for your family
​​Veterans’ Benefits Rating and Rates   Disability Compensation
Veterans who have disabilities, medical conditions or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service —

no matter when or where they served — may be eligible to receive tax-free monthly benefits.

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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. 

Military Health

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

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connect and begin to heal.

Right. Now.

The reports of American decline

are greatly exaggerated
America is wealthy, influential, powerful,

and increasingly equal.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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.

Many service members use industrial solvents in regular military tasks

​Benzene   Tetrachloroethylene

(PCE or PERC)   Acetone    Trichloroethylene (TCE)   Xylenes​

​​How to apply for VA health care

Find out if you’re eligible for

VA health care benefits.

C & P Exams Unemployability

TDIU Benefit

I forgot to tell the examiner some things, 

now what should I do?

Change Your Address In Your VA.GOV Profile
Find out how to change your address and other contact information in your profile.
This will update your information across several VA benefits and services.


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

How To File A Claim For Veterans Disability Benefits

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A & A

I was told my father could qualify for aid and attendance. Which form needs filled out, the 21-526ez or the 21P-527EZ and how do you let them know that is what you are filing for? Or is there an entirely different one that needs to be sent in for aid and attendance? If so which form number is it?

​Jim's Reply:
Thank you for helping your father in his time of need. Detailed instructions about how to apply for the A & A benefit are here 
Good luck.

We are believers in Do It Yourself...DIY.​​ 

We're pretty sure that most veterans will be able to manage their claim best if they DIY.  If you managed to get a DD 214 you're smart enough to manage a claim. If you DIY you don't have to sign a  POA,  you don't risk signing on with a  Veterans Service Officer (VSO)  (sometimes called a 'VA rep') who is too busy and you'll have greater control over your records.  If you do need help with forms and understanding the process, ask a  state or county veterans service officer  to help you. These folks are government employees and usually have a good understanding of how the process works.

Continued below​​

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Hello Jim, I'm a 100% disabled Veteran and on Medicare part A. I stopped part B around 6 years ago because I never used it for medical reasons. I'm turning 65 soon and am getting correspondence from Medicare to pick up part B again but pay late penalties. What's your take on getting Medicare parts A and B? I appreciate your guidance and help with this matter. They want me to sign the notice card to opt out of Medicare part B by July. If I don't sign the card and mail it in they'll make the penalty adjustments and place me on Medicare A and B again.

​Jim's Reply:
Medicare A is required when you begin taking your SSA retirement or SSDI, opting out is very difficult. Medicare B is optional but as you've learned, if you don't take it when first offered the penalty for that can be brutal depending on how many years you delayed.
Health insurance is a very personal decision. If you live within easy reach of a VA medical center, that's likely all you need. If you aren't within an easy drive to your clinic, you may want Part B so you can visit civilian physicians at very low cost.
I have it all...VA care, Medicare A & B because I'm 3 hours away from my VA hospital and I'm 1 1/2 hours away from my VA primary care clinic. My small community has a very nice and highly rated hospital and a bunch of doctors offices that are less than 10 minutes from my house.
You see where I'm going with this. It's a lot more convenient for me to use my Medicare even if it costs me a little more. I do stay connected to VA health care because I like my VA primary care guy a lot and I have all prescriptions filled through VA
You'll have to decide for yourself how much money you want to spend protecting your health and how comfortable you are relying on VA if you do without the extra insurance. Good luck sir.

Retroactive pay?

Hello Jim, I had originally submitted a claim in 2013 and it was denied. In 2020 my claim was resubmitted and approved. Does the time frame from when my claim was submitted and denied to the time it was approve qualify for retroactive pay? Thank you for your service.

​Jim's Reply:
The effective date of a disability claim is the date you first file it. If your claim is denied, you have one year from the date of denial to file an appeal. If you file an appeal within the one year time period, the original effective date remains that and any further awards or actions will date to the original effective date.
If you didn't appeal within that one year period, the denial is considered to be permanent and the file and claim is closed. If you then reopen the claim in the future, a new effective date is set upon that reopening. 
Reading your message it sounds as if you were denied a benefit in or around 2013. You make no mention of an appeal so I assume you lost that earlier effective date. Your new effective date will be to the date of filing in 2020.

P & T

My husband is rated 100% permanent and total from PTSD . We are thinking if he did some kind of work, it would help him. Sitting around is not good. Can he do this and still keep the 100%?

​​Jim's Reply:
If he is rated as 100% disabled by the schedule, he is allowed to work as much as he is able to with no restrictions. If he is rated as 100% TDIU he is limited to earning no more than the amount of the federal poverty wage.
Pro tip: If he isn't able to find a suitable job, he should consider volunteer work. Volunteers can work as much as they want to and it won't interfere with VA disability payments. The next time you go to a VA health care facility and see a volunteer, that may well be a totally disabled veteran who was bored at home but couldn't retain gainful employment. I volunteered at my VA clinic and hospital for years when I lived close enough to do so. It was one of the more rewarding experiences of my life.
There are many volunteer opportunities in your community too. Just look around and he'll find something that fits. I also advise that when anyone asks, "So, what do you do for a living?" the answer is always the same, "I spent some time in the military and I'm retired now with a little pension." That's all the info anyone needs to hear, you shouldn't bother explaining any further than that. If someone presses for a conversation it's acceptable to politely decline and walk away.
A lot of VA counselors in the mental health arena advise their clients to try volunteering. Returning to meaningful work (and volunteering) in the right environment can't be beat. Give him a salute for me. Good luck.

When you  file your claim  you can do it electronically, print the form and fax it in or print the form and mail it using certified mail, return receipt requested. I don't think one is better than the other, just remember to keep good copies for yourself.  When you make the decision to file a claim, stop what you're doing and  file an Intent To File A Claim form right now.  That will set the effective date  and now you can take up to a full year to develop and perfect and file your claim. But don't take that long...get to work. Once your claim is received in Janesville, you'll be notified of that. Then you'll eventually get notice you're scheduled for a  C & P exam  that you must attend. 

Continued below

Your claim is electronic and may be worked on at any of the  VA Regional Offices.  You'll more or less be able to see the progress of your claim by following it in your  eBenefits account.  I say 'more or less' because the  eBenefits report  isn't as accurate as we'd like it to be with all kinds of lag time delays and update malfunctions. But it's a pretty useful tool if you're patient. You'll need it as you go along so get used to how it functions. That brings to mind the topic of access to the Internet. You really aren't going to want to do this on your phone. There's a lot of reading and forms and a PC, a laptop or even a pad will be better. You need a reliable and fast connection. Nothing is more frustrating than a dropped connection when filling out a form on the VA site. Public libraries are often the best access you'll find but of course, here we are in 2021 and access may be a challenge. Whatever it takes...these are your benefits, you earned them.  File the claim!

They'll also be able to help you to determine your state benefits...those can add up!  You aren't allowed to use a lawyer unless you're appealing a denied claim but even the very best claims are often denied so there may be a  veterans law attorney  in your future. To file a claim you should prepare to present and explain the 3 elements of a well grounded claim. 1) An event or some occurrence that happened while you were active duty, 2)  A record of a diagnosis or some form of treatments of the event that caused you injury or illness and 3) an ongoing record of treatments of the named and medically diagnosed disabling conditions have affected you over time.

Continued below​​

veterans psychologist


VA Proposes Changes To The Rating Schedule
And you should pay attention because this could affect how you'll be rated years from now.

​Our concern: While we agree that  
The Schedule needs an overhaul,  this is a proposal from the VA that will benefit the VA, not the veteran. Revising the schedule in a piecemeal fashion won't fix the bigger problem.
This is your opportunity to comment to The Federal Register (links below) and make your voice heard.
Dear Veteran,
The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing changes to the 
VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities specifically pertaining to the respiratory, auditory and mental disorders body systems.
The proposed updates to the rating schedule for these conditions will enable VA to incorporate modern medical data and terminology to provide Veterans with more accurate and consistent decisions.
Veterans who currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition in these body systems will not have their disability rating impacted when the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities is updated. Updating the rating schedule allows Veterans to receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge relating to their condition.
By incorporating modern medical data in the assessment of disabilities and how they impact earning capacity, Veterans will receive evaluations which more accurately compensate them for their service-connected disabilities. Proposed updates include:
Modernizing the evaluative rating criteria for sleep apnea, using developments in medical knowledge to evaluate it based on its responsiveness to treatment, bringing the rating criteria for sleep apnea more closely in line with the stated purpose of the rating schedule.
Evaluating tinnitus (ringing in the ears) as a symptom of the underlying disease which causes it, rather than as a stand-alone disability.
Evaluating mental health conditions based on a more robust and holistic approach that assesses how impactful the disability is to cognition, interpersonal relationships, task completion, life activities and self-care. Additionally, the proposed evaluation criteria include a 10% minimum evaluation for having one or more service-connected mental health conditions and will no longer require “total occupational and social impairment” to attain a 100% evaluation.
No change to a Veteran’s current rating would occur due to these proposed changes. If the proposed changes are finalized, Veterans who currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition can apply for increased compensation, but no reductions shall be made unless an improvement in the Veteran’s disability is shown to have occurred.
The public has 60 days to provide comments to VA regarding the two proposed updates via the Federal Register notices located 
here and here.
Thomas J. Murphy
Director, Northeast District
Performing the Delegable Duties of the Under Secretary for Benefits

veterans medical malpractice lawyers

38 CFR Book C

Schedule for Rating Disabilities   

This collection tells you the standards

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