How to get Social Security disability

benefits when you can’t work

Getting Social Security disability benefits when you’re unable to work can be challenging. Last year, more

than 2 million people applied for Social Security

disability benefits, but two-thirds of them

were denied, because most applicants fail to prove

that they’re disabled and can’t work. Here are some

steps you can take that can help improve your odds.

VA MISSION Act

Answers to the top five questions about urgent care

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!

Top Searches

Google Tracks You

and we don't.
​DuckDuckGo apps block

Google's hidden trackers.
​Get unbiased results

outside the Filter Bubble.


​The world needs an alternative

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

Training book used for VA

'How To Lie With Statistics'

Other-than-honorable discharge?

You’re still eligible for VA mental health care​

The moment that you file a claim someone will be waiting to schedule you for a Compensation and Pension (C & P) Exam.

The C & P exam is the precise point where so many claims go south. The C & P examiner is often not qualified to render an opinion of the condition in front of them. I recently received an email from a veteran who I had advised to file a claim for his carotid artery disease as secondary to his service connected diabetes. His claim was denied because the C & P examiner opined that there was no medical evidence that diabetes caused or contributed to carotid artery disease. That it is well known that diabetes is a leading cause of atherosclerosis didn't phase anyone at VA and now we have to have a doctor and a lawyer get involved in a lengthy appeal.

Think about it...the veteran was denied service connection because the VA examiner reported that there is no medical evidence that diabetes causes carotid artery disease. Now read this.

Months ago when I first advised the veteran to file the claim for a secondary condition, I didn't advise him to get an IMO. I couldn't have believed that VA would deny a vascular condition as secondary to DMII...it defies all logic. But here we are and it's become very apparent that if you want to avoid an appeal, you'll get an IMO as you file the initial claim.

​The report above is a confirmation of this...the VA does a very poor job of C & P exams. Avoid the fuss of an appeal...get an IMO.

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.

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.

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,

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

Thank you!!!

Have you been denied a claim for a condition of the spine (Or any condition???)

Inadequate (lowball) rating?

You're going to need an IMO sooner than later

​Create or update your will today – fast and 100% free

Make your will with FreeWill today

We have advance healthcare directives, healthcare proxies, living wills and durable financial power of attorney.

All are free to use.

Halloween Costumes
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.

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.

Email Jim your question for a quick and confidential reply.  jim912@gmail.com

AT WAR
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

Read Me Please 

The Users Guide
VAWatchdog Dot Org​

VAWatchdog Dot Org

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​

The NPRC

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.

Why You Need An IMO!

VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION

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.

Processing errors included improper evaluations, missed secondary conditions,

and evaluations based on inadequate exams. 

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.

Wounded Warrior Project Veterans Benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs

Permanent and Total (P & T) Disability Ratings

38 CFR 3.340 - Total and permanent total ratings and unemployability.


(a) Total disability ratings -
(1) General. Total disability will be considered to exist when there is present any impairment of mind or body which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation. Total disability may or may not be permanent. Total ratings will not be assigned, generally, for temporary exacerbations or acute infectious diseases except where specifically prescribed by the schedule.
(2) Schedule for rating disabilities. Total ratings are authorized for any disability or combination of disabilities for which the Schedule for Rating Disabilities prescribes a 100 percent evaluation or, with less disability, where the requirements of paragraph 16, page 5 of the rating schedule are present or where, in pension cases, the requirements of paragraph 17, page 5 of the schedule are met.
(3) Ratings of total disability on history. In the case of disabilities which have undergone some recent improvement, a rating of total disability may be made, provided:
(i) That the disability must in the past have been of sufficient severity to warrant a total disability rating;
(ii) That it must have required extended, continuous, or intermittent hospitalization, or have produced total industrial incapacity for at least 1 year, or be subject to recurring, severe, frequent, or prolonged exacerbations; and
(iii) That it must be the opinion of the rating agency that despite the recent improvement of the physical condition, the veteran will be unable to effect an adjustment into a substantially gainful occupation. Due consideration will be given to the frequency and duration of totally incapacitating exacerbations since incurrence of the original disease or injury, and to periods of hospitalization for treatment in determining whether the average person could have reestablished himself or herself in a substantially gainful occupation.
(b) Permanent total disability. Permanence of total disability will be taken to exist when such impairment is reasonably certain to continue throughout the life of the disabled person. The permanent loss or loss of use of both hands, or of both feet, or of one hand and one foot, or of the sight of both eyes, or becoming permanently helpless or bedridden constitutes permanent total disability. Diseases and injuries of long standing which are actually totally incapacitating will be regarded as permanently and totally disabling when the probability of permanent improvement under treatment is remote. Permanent total disability ratings may not be granted as a result of any incapacity from acute infectious disease, accident, or injury, unless there is present one of the recognized combinations or permanent loss of use of extremities or sight, or the person is in the strict sense permanently helpless or bedridden, or when it is reasonably certain that a subsidence of the acute or temporary symptoms will be followed by irreducible totality of disability by way of residuals. The age of the disabled person may be considered in determining permanence.
(c) Insurance ratings. A rating of permanent and total disability for insurance purposes will have no effect on ratings for compensation or pension.

38 CFR 3.344 - Stabilization of disability evaluations.

Examination reports indicating improvement.

Doubtful cases.

Disabilities which are likely to improve.

§4.16  Total disability ratings for compensation based on unemployability of the individual.
(a) Total disability ratings for compensation may be assigned, where the schedular rating is less than total, when the disabled person is, in the judgment of the rating agency, unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of service-connected disabilities: Provided, That, if there is only one such disability, this disability shall be ratable at 60 percent or more, and that, if there are two or more disabilities, there shall be at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more, and sufficient additional disability to bring the combined rating to 70 percent or more. For the above purpose of one 60 percent disability, or one 40 percent disability in combination, the following will be considered as one disability:
(1) Disabilities of one or both upper extremities, or of one or both lower extremities, including the bilateral factor, if applicable, 

(2) Disabilities resulting from common etiology or a single accident,
(3) Disabilities affecting a single body system, e.g. orthopedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular-renal, neuropsychiatric,
(4) Multiple injuries incurred in action, or
(5) Multiple disabilities incurred as a prisoner of war.
It is provided further that the existence or degree of nonservice-connected disabilities or previous unemployability status will be disregarded where the percentages referred to in this paragraph for the service-connected disability or disabilities are met and in the judgment of the rating agency such service-connected disabilities render the veteran unemployable. Marginal employment shall not be considered substantially gainful employment. For purposes of this section, marginal employment generally shall be deemed to exist when a veteran’s earned annual income does not exceed the amount established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, as the poverty threshold for one person. Marginal employment may also be held to exist, on a facts found basis (includes but is not limited to employment in a protected environment such as a family business or sheltered workshop), when earned annual income exceeds the poverty threshold. Consideration shall be given in all claims to the nature of the employment and the reason for termination.  (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a))
(b) It is the established policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs that all veterans who are unable to secure and follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of service-connected disabilities shall be rated totally disabled. Therefore, rating boards should submit to the Director, Compensation Service, for extra-schedular consideration all cases of veterans who are unemployable by reason of service-connected disabilities, but who fail to meet the percentage standards set forth in paragraph (a) of this section. The rating board will include a full statement as to the veteran’s service-connected disabilities, employment history, educational and vocational attainment and all other factors having a bearing on the issue.

 A Statement regarding Permanent and Total Disability (P & T) ratings
assigned to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs


Hello Jim:

I have a temporary rating. I need a permanent rating for the additional family benefits. How can I do that? 
My reply:

The 100% P & T designation is seen as important because of the additional dependents benefits of Chapter 35 educational benefits or the CHAMPVA health insurance. There are other benefits associated with a permanent rating; for example, a veteran must be rated as permanently disabled for an uninterrupted 10 year period for his spouse to be eligible for DIC should the vet die of anything that isn't rated as service connected.
P & T may be associated with either a 100% schedular rating or a 100% TDIU rating.

Whether or not a veteran receives a "permanent and total" (P & T) rating depends on a wide variety of factors. There are generally 2 classes of 100% ratings that aren't rated as P & T. Service connected cancer ratings are always rated as temporary 100% because it's assumed the veteran will get treatment and the cancer will go to remission or a cure. The other class of ratings that are always temporary are mental health related. VA assumes that with time and treatment, almost all mental health ratings will show measurable, sustained improvement.

Mental health 100% ratings may convert to P & T after the veterans 55th birthday. The 55th birthday is generally viewed as the point that a person can't effectively be retrained in any field that would allow him or her to reenter the workforce. This standard isn't unique to veterans or the VA, the SSA and other similar agencies use the 55 year old standard too.

We recommend that veterans do not try to appeal their temporary 100% rating to achieve a permanent rating. The first reason to avoid seeking an appeal is that VA will tell you there's nothing to appeal, you haven't been denied anything. Then you must consider that any time we ask VA to review anything in our file, they will review everything. During these reviews they look for areas of improvement in your rated conditions and will often seek to lower an existing benefit. Advocates have many horror stories of veterans who "appeal" or otherwise ask for P & T and end up with a 30% rating after VA opens the file.

As time passes and you attend those future exams, it becomes very difficult for VA to show sustained and measurable improvement. We agree that in broad terms, when 5 years passes between exams it becomes almost impossible to show sustained improvement.

Waiting it out also gets you closer to the 55 year old point and a better chance of a permanent rating after that.

While we understand that to not be rated as P & T may cause you to miss out on some dependents benefits, we believe the risks of seeking the permanent rating status outweighs any perceived potential benefits.
​​
Our recommendation is to wait it out and not seek a P & T status.

You should attend any and all future exams that VA schedules for you. Never miss or try to reschedule C & P exams. Be prepared for each C & P exam to show the examiner that there has been no change to the condition being examined.

Section B.  Determining Disability, Unemployability, and Marginal Employment

General Information on Determining Unemployability

Factors to Consider When Determining Unemployability

Determining Marginal Employment

Determining Unemployability or Marginal Employment of Farmers

Obtaining Evidence of Disability

Determining Permanent and Total Disability

Effective Dates for Disability Pension Awards

Requirements for Retroactive Payment of Disability Pension

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?

How to Fight VA Debt
Military members know that when DoD gives

you too much money, it will come back for it.

The VA is similar, but the system is worse.

Drowning in Debt?

It Could Reduce Your Social Security Benefits
Think twice before taking on certain loans.

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.

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. 

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.

What You Should Know about Disability and Debt

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

Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website

We’re there to provide comfort during difficult times

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.

It's Your Right To See Your Medical Records.

It Shouldn't Be This Hard To Do

​​At a time when many insurers and health information technology companies are busily assembling databases

of hundreds of millions of medical records, Americans

find it difficult to get access to their own.

Jim's Mailbag

Florida Veterans

Medical Marijuana Card
Tell the doctor you saw it on VAWatchdog

and ask about veterans discounts!​

Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment

Additional information needed to support claim

Direct Deposit - May I apply by telephone?

Check your VA claim or appeal status

Find out how to check the status of a

VA claim or appeal online

4 Facts About Your Social Security

Benefits You May Not Know
Arming yourself with knowledge about the

complicated benefits process will

help you better prepare for retirement.

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