The Two Components Of TDIU Claims
There are two components of TDIU claims. Sometimes, the Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability claims are straightforward. The veteran is not working, a VA doctor says the Veteran cannot work, and the Veteran has a disability rating that meets the requirements. But other times, there is some doubt in at least one of these areas. Cantrell v. Shulkin, a 2017 case, sheds some light on what “cannot work” means.
In this case, Cantrell, who had service-related ulcerative colitis and worked as a park ranger, required at least a dozen bathroom breaks a day. Additionally, these breaks lasted a minimum of 20 minutes each. However, his boss let him plan his inspection route according to the availability of bathrooms. His boss also gave Cantrell time off to attend to his needs. Most bosses would not do that. But the Board of Veterans Appeals ruled that Cantrell was ineligible for TDIU benefits.
What Happened On Appeal
On appeal, the Court of Veterans Appeals ruled that “the Board’s approach in this case
improperly focused on individual symptoms, rather than the collective impact of those symptoms
on the veteran’s disability picture.” In other words, TDIU requires a comprehensive evaluation
of all the evidence, including a vocational expert’s report.
So, even if you are not 100% disabled, a VA disability lawyer may be able to obtain 100%
disability benefits. These benefits include free medical care at any VA facility as well as monthly
cash. So, if you are a Veteran and a disability affects your ability to make a living, an attorney
should always evaluate your case.
Normally, the medical TDIU threshold is a 60% disability or a combination of two or more
conditions that add up to a 70% disability. At least one condition must be at least 40% disabling.
VA math applies when disability ratings are combined. If Amy has a 50% back disability and a
30% knee disability, she is 65% disabled. Half of 30 is 15, and 15 plus 50 is 65.
Partially for that reason, extra-schedular TDIU is often available. A combined disability score
does not necessarily reflect the severity of the Veteran’s condition.
Another reason for possible extra-schedular TDIU is the nature of the VA disability rating
process. The percentages do not always match the effects. Some individuals function pretty well
most of the time. But if they have a bad day or a flare-up, they cannot concentrate on one task for
more than a few minutes at a time. Cantrell’s colitis is an example of that.
The second component is unemployability. This is not the same thing as being “unemployed.” Many
people are unemployable even though they are working.
Like Cantrell, some Veterans receive preferential treatment. Usually, these individuals work at
family- or Veteran-owned businesses. These bosses normally offer accommodations that are
unavailable elsewhere. If a Veteran can only work in such situations, the Veteran still counts as
Income also affects unemployability. If the only job you can do doesn’t pay enough to lift your
family out of poverty, you still count as unemployable. Many totally disabled Veterans find work
as school crossing guards, Walmart greeters, or other such jobs. Household income usually does
not matter. If Amy cannot work, she is unemployable even if her husband is a big-shot VA
Frequently, vocational expert reports seal the deal in these situations. A vocational expert gives a professional opinion about the Veteran’s employability, given their employability and the current market conditions. This opinion can help convince VA.
Connect With Diligent Attorneys
TDIU could be a life-saver to many families. For a free consultation with an experienced
Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. 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