SSDI and TDIU Benefits

SSDI and TDIU – Can Veterans Receive Them At The Same Time?


Many Veterans ask if it is possible to get SSDI and TDIU benefits at the same time. In this article, we will address that inquiry.

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) have little in common. Aside from the fact that they both contain the D-word. These benefits are administered by two separate governmental entities for two separate purposes. Additionally, as outlined below, the qualifications are different for each one.

Although surprising to many, Veterans can simultaneously receive TDIU and SSDI benefits. Additionally, since the programs are completely separate, there is no double-dipping allowance. Meaning, Veterans who are eligible for both benefits may receive the maximum of each benefit. These come without any offset or reduction of either benefit.

All that being said, the interplay between SSDI and TDIU is rather complex. Many people qualify for one, but not the other. Additionally, eligibility for one benefit could either help or hurt your application for the other benefit.

Although they are separate agencies, SSA and VA claims’ examiners review each agency’s files. There could be something in one file that hurts your application for another type of benefits. For example, if SSA records indicate that a non service-connected disability caused your unemployability, a VA claim could be harder to make.

Qualifying for SSDI

Prior payroll tax contributions and any total disability are basically the only two SSDI qualifications. Unlike some other forms of Social Security payments, income is irrelevant. However, the tax contributions may affect the amount of benefits.

Furthermore, the SSA is very particular about a “disability.” First, the condition must be either listed in the black book, or substantially similar to a listed condition. Second, the illness must be completely disabling. “Disability” is a relative term which depends on the claimant’s age, employment background, physical condition, educational background, and additional factors.

Qualifying for TDIU

TDIU is basically a fallback VA disability benefit. If the claimant does not qualify for 100% disability under the regular rules, TDIU may be an option. The basic qualifications require one of the following:

  • 60% Disability:one service-connected disability totaling 60% or more; or
  • 70/40% Disability: Alternatively, a claimant with a combined rating of 70% or more, with at least one service-connected disability of at least 40%.

In infrequent circumstances, a Veteran may qualify for these benefits even if they do not meet the 60% test or the 70/40% test. Extra-Schedular TDIU may be available if the claimant establishes an impairment that exceeds the guideline levels.    

Assume Rafael has always been a truck driver. In Iraq, a roadside bomb went off near his convoy, and he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now, every time he drives a truck, he remembers that incident. Even though he has only one PTSD symptom (avoidance), he may still be eligible for TDIU. Effectively, he can never drive a truck again, and that is all he knows how to do.

In order to be successful in a TDIU claim, assuming a Veteran has the requisite disability rating(s) discussed above, the claimant must demonstrate an inability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of their service-connected disabilities. Curiously, “substantially gainful occupation” is not the same as “unemployed.” Many people work part- time, even though they have disabilities. Other people have full time jobs, but they can only work in a sheltered environment, like a family-run business. These work scenarios do not necessarily count as substantially gainful occupations and could still allow for an award of TDIU benefits.

Work with Dedicated Attorneys

TDIU recipients are eligible for SSDI benefits, and vice-versa. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.