FAQ: Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU) VA Benefits
Generally, maximum benefits are available to Veterans who are completely disabled with Total Disability for Individual Unemployability. Their mental or physical disabilities are so egregious that they are essentially housebound. However, many Veterans are eligible for Total Disability Due to Individual Unemployability status. In a nutshell, a partially disabled Veteran could be eligible for full VA disability benefits.
Quite understandably, lots of people have questions about this program. Below are the three that
our VA disability attorneys field the most. The qualifications are rather complex, and only
certain kinds of evidence resonates with Regional Officers. So, if you think you might be eligible
for TDIU benefits based on the information in this post, reach out to us straightaway.
Who Qualifies for Individual Unemployability?
Most Veterans qualify for TDIU benefits under the normal, schedular requirement. To qualify
for full VA disability benefits and full medical coverage under the TDIU rule, the Veteran must
- One condition with at least a 60% disability ratings, or
- Two or more conditions with a combined 70% disability rating. At least one condition
must have at least a 40% or higher disability rating.
For TDIU purposes, the VA consolidates some multiple disabilities into a single rating.
Examples include disabilities in both arms or legs and disabilities which are related to one
another, such as multiple combat-related injuries.
Extra-schedular TDIU benefits might be available as well. This comes into play when the ratings
do not meet the requirements above; however, due to the Veteran’s service-connected
disabilities, they are still unable to maintain substantially gainful employment.
The Director of Compensation usually has the last word in this area. In fact, if the Veteran asks for TDIU benefits but does not qualify under the aforementioned disability rules, the VA is required to forward the matter to the Director of Compensation for reconsideration. That forwarding often does not occur, and that failure could be an independent basis for a successful appeal.
What Evidence Does the VA Consider?
“Disability” is not just a medical term. The D-word has some other implications as well. So, to
determine eligibility for TDIU benefits, the VA usually considers:
- Medical records,
- Educational records,
- Employment history, and
- Job training eligibility, including GI Bill eligibility.
Other evidence, most notably age, is generally irrelevant not allowed to be considered.
To present a more compelling picture to the Board of Veterans Appeals or other body, a VA
disability attorney often partners with a vocational expert. These professionals consider the job
market as well as the Veteran’s situation and form an opinion as to the Veteran’s employability.
Can I Get TDIU Benefits if I am Working?
Surprisingly, the answer to this question is usually “yes.” Veterans are still unemployable if they
are not substantially, and gainfully employed or they work in a sheltered environment.
Generally, substantial and, gainful employment is work that elevates the Veteran and his/her
dependents above the poverty line. Frequently, severe disabilities limit the Veteran’s hours and
therefore also limit the Veteran’s earning capacity. Additionally, jobs like Walmart greeter and
school crossing guard are usually not economically gainful.
Unsubstantial, ungainful employment could also be work so menial that it is unfulfilling for the
Veteran. But these cases are more difficult to make.
As for sheltered environments, some employers extend special privileges to disabled Veterans,
such as schedule flexibility, that are unavailable elsewhere. Family-owned and Veteran-owned
businesses are two of the biggest examples. Regardless of their income or type of work, these
jobs do not affect an unemployability determination.
Reach Out to Dedicated Attorneys
Veterans who are not completely disabled and/or working part-time might still be eligible for full
disability benefits. 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