Has Your Total Disability Due To Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Claim Been Denied Because Of Your Job?
When the VA issues a Total Disability Due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) or other denial, it is incredibly frustrating. In most cases, even straightforward Veterans Administration (VA) claims are extremely time-consuming. There are roadblocks at almost every curve. At that point, many claimants feel like abandoning their claims .and giving up on the entire VA claims process.
If it looks like your claim has hit a brick wall, it is important to persevere. VA benefits could be several thousand dollars a month, and your family needs every penny, even if you are working. Additionally, at the end of the case, the benefits are usually retroactive to the claim filing date. Given all that is at stake, it is important to understand why your claim was denied and what you can do about it.
There is one general consideration, and some specific ones, as well. Overall, the VA does not bar any employment. The rules state that the claimant cannot “secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation.” Typically, that means the claimant cannot earn enough to place the family above the poverty line. Meaning that driving for Uber a few hours a week or working other part-time jobs will not necessarily bar you from receiving TDIU benefits.
Furthermore, sheltered employment usually does not count toward unemployability, even if the claimant’s income is above the poverty line. Sheltered employment includes things like working in a family business or other similar protected environment.
Now, for the specific factors. Age is not allowed to be considered by the VA claims examiners when assessing a TDIU claim, but some claims examiners look at it anyway. The only issue is whether the claimant’s disability adversely affects employability. Overall health and age are supposed to be irrelevant.
Non-service-connected disabilities are not a factor, either. Even if the victim receives Social Security Disability or other government disability benefits, the only factor, as far as the VA is concerned, is the service-related disability.
Overcoming a TDIU denial is usually a two-step process.
First, the claimant must clarify the above threshold issues. If the claims adjuster denied the benefits request because of employment, age, or a non-service-related disability, the claimant’s chances of success on appeal will be much greater.
Second, the claimant needs to submit evidence to the VA to substantiate the claimant’s inability to work (or inability to “secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation.”. Since employability is both a medical and an economic issue, such evidence usually comes from both a doctor and an employment/vocational professional. A doctor can testify about the medical effects of the service-related disability, or prepare a written report to that effect. Likewise, an vocational rehabilitation professional can shed light on the claimant’s realistic employment prospects given all the current facts.
In addition to such expert opinions, many claims examiners also request Compensation and Pension exams (C&P exams). These examinations can help prove whether it is as least as likely as not that the Veteran can “secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation.”
Generally, Veterans have one year after a TDIU denial to file a Notice of Disagreement. This notice challenges the finding based on:
- New and material evidence, or
- Clear and unmistakable error.
Because of the expert reports mentioned above, most NODs involve new evidence which, once considered, may alter the outcome.
Work with Dedicated Attorneys
A TDIU setback does not completely derail your claim for compensation. 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.