How Much is My VA Back Pay?
If I win my TDIU appeal, how much is my VA back pay? This question is important because Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are often significant. Even if the Veteran is not 100% disabled, or even close to 100%, TDIU benefits for a 100% disability start at $3106.04/mo and can be more with dependents and Special Monthly Compensation. Especially given the long wait time for VA appeals, back pay could be a lot of non-taxable money.
This question also has a complex answer. According to the Court of Veterans Appeals, a TDIU claim is not a separate claim for benefits. Instead, it is a request for increased compensation based on a prior determination.
That subtle interpretation substantially changes the dynamics of a TDIU claim. Calculating VA back pay is not merely a matter of going back to the filing date or the date of the disability. Matters can get complicated if, as is often the case, the request for TDIU benefits is coupled with a request to reconsider the disability rating.
Although the government has recently streamlined the VA benefits appeal process, an experienced attorney is a must-have in situations like these. Otherwise, the court might throw out the request on a technicality and never address the merits of the claim.
Qualifying for Benefits
A discussion of TDIU back pay is irrelevant unless the Veteran qualifies for these benefits in the first place. Initially, the veteran must meet the required minimum disability rating. The minimums are:
- 60% single condition disability rating, or
- 70% multiple condition disability rating, if at least one condition has a 40% rating.
Meeting the minimum is not enough. Applicants must also prove that they are unable to obtain substantial employment in unsheltered work environments. These terms have very specific meanings. Essentially, the Veteran’s earnings must be below the poverty line and the Veteran must not have an employer who makes significant accommodations to allow the veteran to keep working despite his or her disabilities.
Determining the Back Pay Effective Date
Since TDIU determinations consider both the date of disability and the date of unemployability, it stands to reason that back pay calculations include both these milestones. So, the effective date is the later of:
- Date the claim was filed, or
- Date the service-related disability caused the Veteran to become unemployable.
Many disabled Veterans work at multiple jobs, and lose multiple jobs, before they file TDIU claims. Assume Jerry was discharged in January 2015 with a 70% PTSD disability rating. Over the next year, he tried to work, but was unable to keep a job. So, in January 2016, he filed for TDIU benefits.
A Claims Examiner would probably say Jerry’s effective date was January 2016, or his TDIU filing date. But Jerry’s effective date could be January 2015, if he was unemployable at that time. The difference could mean a lot of money for Jerry and his family.
Work with Savvy Attorneys
TDIU claims are extremely complex, as they involve both medical and non-medical evidence. 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.