Three Helpful Categories of Evidence to Win TDIU Claims
If your application for VA disability benefits was denied, you still have legal options. You can still win TDIU claims. Generally, disability benefits are available if the Veteran meets a certain set of medical and other criteria. However, as the name implies, Total Disability Due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits work a bit differently. The grant, or denial, of TDIU benefits is more of a case-by-case, individualized determination. This determination is based not only on your specific medical conditions but also the effect those conditions have on a person’s ability to work.
Nevertheless, there are some minimum qualifications for TDIU benefits. First, the Veteran must not be able to achieve “substantial, gainful employment.” This label does not mean that the Veteran is completely unable to work. In some cases, this label does not even mean that the Veteran cannot earn above the poverty line. Once again, the determination is specific to the individual Veteran and their specific situations.
Next, the Veteran must have one service-connected disability with a 60% impairment rating. Or, the Veteran must have a total combined disability rating (of one or more service-connected disabilities) of 70%with at least one service-connected disability of 40%.
Since the Veteran has the burden of proof in these cases, the evidence is essential. However, the correct evidence is not enough to win TDIU claims. A VA disability attorney must present this evidence properly.
For the most part, you know your symptoms better than anyone else, so be prepared to discuss them with the claims examiner. Do not hold anything back, but do not exaggerate your symptoms either. Additionally, you must connect your symptoms to employment difficulty. Here is an example:
Juan has a service-connected back injury, which he sustained in the first Persian Gulf War. The injury is bad, but medication keeps the condition mostly in check. Juan is able to get out of bed and move around for most of the day. Therefore, a prior claims examiner awarded Juan a 70% disability rating for his back.
When Juan applies for TDIU benefits, he must connect his disability symptoms with an inability to achieve substantial gainful employment. He might say:
- Because of my injury, I do not sleep well many nights. Therefore, I am sleepy and fatigued the next day and have a hard time focusing on tasks.
- My medication has side-effects which sometimes make it difficult to function. That is especially true if the doctor adjusts my dosage, which occurs frequently.
- Like many people with serious injuries, I have good days and bad days. On a bad day I have a hard time getting moving, and on a very bad day, I cannot get out of bed at all.
If Juan has an experienced attorney, his lawyer can gently prompt him to answer certain questions in certain ways and therefore keep him on track.
Remember, we said that “generally,” no one knows your symptoms better than yourself. That is not always true. 1Sometimes, a spouse, family member, or friend can provide important insights that the Veteran cannot do on their own.
For example, Juan’s wife might add things, like “he has trouble picking up the grandbabies,” or “it takes him all day to cut the grass because he can only mow for about 20 minutes at a time.”
There are no formal rules of evidence in these proceedings. Therefore, witness testimony from a spouse, family member, or friend is generally welcome in this somewhat informal environment.
A Veteran’s own testimony, along with lay statements, enables the claims examiner to understand how their disability affects them. In addition to those subjective pieces of evidence, most claims will also require some sort of objective evidence, or at least, documented medical evidence such as:
- Amount of weight a person can lift,
- Range of motion in a shoulder or other joint,
- Average pain level, and
- Whether or not the Veteran should work.
Privacy laws sometimes prevent Veterans from obtaining medical records in a timely manner. However, an experienced attorney knows how to get these records quickly providing plenty of time to receive and review the records, assess the claim, and put together a plan of action.
Count on Experienced Attorneys To Win TDIU Claims
Evidence is usually the key to success in a TDIU claim. 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.