More Pay for VA Clinical Social Workers

Under federal law, the VA must recognize the clinical expertise of clinical social workers and make financial awards by means of the Special Advancement for Achievement (SAA) program. The BCD credential helps you to qualify for SAA pay awards.
The BCD (Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work) is held by hundreds of VA clinical social workers. It is widely known as the gold standard for advanced-generalist practitioners and is the only clinical social work certification recognized as a Tier One credential for VA SAA extra pay.

The BCD eligibility criteria for VA clinical social workers are summarized as five years/7,500 hours’ post-graduate clinical social work practice; 3,000 hours of direct clinical social work practice in the past 10 years; and 40 hours of clinical continuing education in the past three years. A more detailed description is available.

The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, signed by President Obama on August 7, 2014, specifies the continuance of the Special Advancement for Achievement (SAA) program as part of the overall VA SAA program for the health professions, funded up to $360 million per year through 2024. SAA “professional pay” and step increases for clinical social workers are protected by Section 705 of this Act.

Apply for a BCD


ACSWA is a unit of the not-for-profit Center for Clinical Social Work, Inc., which also operates the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

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