How Do You Determine Whether Your Disabilities Prevent You From Working
To determine the severity of your disabilities and whether you qualify for TDIU, the Department of Veterans Affairs will look at medical records and other evidence. A trained attorney can take you through the process of gathering that information and ensuring all relevant evidence that is likely to support your case is collected and presented. A legal representative can also file an appeal should your application be denied.
Eligibility And Va Unemployability Benefits
Veterans who wish to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits must be eligible by the Veterans Administrations guidelines on VA Unemployability requirements and income limits. First, veterans must have a service-connected mental or physical impairment. This disability must have been caused or aggravated by your time in the service. Second, veterans wishing to obtain TDIU benefits must have been considered active-duty during their military career. Third, you must not have a dishonorable discharge. This is an overgeneralization of eligibility and we encourage you to contact us for eligibility questions.
TDIU benefits are for veterans who can no longer work due to service-connected disabilities. If you are not yet service-connected, Woods & Woods can help. Below are the general requirements for obtaining TDIU benefits. If you are not sure you are eligible for VA Unemployability, give our Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits lawyers a call.
- You must be a veteran
- You must have service-connected disabilities
- You must not have been discharged dishonorably
- You must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least at 60%, OR two or more service-connected disabilities at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
- You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities .
Proving One Thing Gets You Va Individual Unemployability
by Chris Attig
There are a lot of myths surrounding VA individual unemployability benefits what we commonly call VA TDIU. Some folks tell you that to qualify for TDIU have to be unemployed Some folks tell you that you have to be unable to do any work.
Heres the myth I want to tackle today: to get VA Individual Unemployability benefits, some folks say you have to already have a service connected disability or multiple service connected conditions rated at certain percents to qualify for TDIU.
Thats only half true.
Now, to be clear, we are talking about 100% TDIU ratings here this is not the same as a schedular 100% rating. Same amount of money, but totally different veterans benefits. There are several different paths to a 100% rating read about them here.
Heres how it works, generally. If you have difficulty keeping and maintaining substantially gainful employment because of a service connected condition or multiple VA disabilities, you are eligible for VA individual unemployability.
That phrase, substantially gainful employment, means something very different than most folks think, including VA raters. And Ill teach you about what it means elsewhere on the Veterans Law Blog®.
You file a claim for TDIU either one of two ways:
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The Criteria For 100% Disability
You can qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability if you meet two criteria:
- Inability to maintain substantially gainful employment. Substantially gainful means a steady job that would provide regular financial support. Marginal employment and odd jobs do not count for this matter. The final rating decision focuses on this criterion
- Having at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher, OR at least two service-connected disabilities, at least one of them rated at 40% or higher, with a combined rating of at least 70%.
This is important: Veterans who cannot support themselves financially may be eligible for a total disability benefit based on individual unemployment even if their service-connected disability or illness, or a sum of several connected disabilities, has a VA disability rating of less than 100 percent.
In some cases, a Veteran could get Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability benefits even if their combined service-connected disabilities do not reach the minimum threshold of the disability rating. This is possible if the Veteran can prove that, under their specific individual circumstances, their disability or injury directly interferes with their ability to work.
For example, they may require frequent hospital stays or therapy that would get in the way of steady employment.
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Tdiu Is Not Social Security Disability
It is easy to equate the VAs version of total disability with the Social Security Administrations version. The important thing to remember is that IU veterans benefits are not structured in the same way as Social Security Disability . In many ways, the requirements to obtain IU benefits are more lenient than those of Social Security. In order to qualify for SSD, you must be found to be completely unable to work, under any conditions or circumstances. Typically, this finding is backed by the opinion of a vocational expert and/or a medical professional.
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Our Offices Approach To Representing Veterans Whose Tdiu Claims Have Already Been Denied
If the VA has already denied your claim for unemployability, please contact our office today for a free case evaluation in which one of our attorneys will assess the effects of your service-connected disabilities on your occupational and social functioning and help you understand whether there may be an effective strategy to win your claim for a TDIU rating.
However, if our office determines that the evidence of record already in your claims file at the time of the VAs decision denying your claim for a TDIU rating does not clearly and definitively demonstrate your entitlement to a TDIU rating, we will then develop your case by referring you for an independent medical or psychological evaluation, obtaining a medical opinion from one or more of your treating physicians, psychologists, or counselors, seeking a vocational opinion from a vocational expert based on a limitation the VA has already conceded your service-connected disabilities cause you to have, and/or developing other evidence, such as sworn declarations from you or a loved one, detailing how your service-connected impairments limit your ability to function on a daily basis. Once our office has obtained such new and relevant evidence, we will then file such evidence along with a supplemental claim under the VAs AMA system.
How Do You Prove Individual Unemployability To The Va
You should provide the VA with any and all documentation you can come up with including:
- Evidence of your service-connected disabilities as described above, this can be a copy of your VA disability rating letter. If you don’t have a copy of your VA letter, you can just send them a statement that you do have the qualifying disability rating from the VA .
- A written notification that the disability or disabilities prevent you from performing the mental and/or physical tasks required to get or keep substantially gainful employment, this can be in your own words. If you have any medical diagnosis send copies of it to the VA, this will speed up the decision.
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What Employment Qualifies For Tdiu
Several types of employment may allow a Veteran to still qualify for partial or complete TDIU benefits. These employment types include:
- means that the Veteran works but earns a salary lower than the poverty level for their state or location. Because the Veteran doesnt receive a salary comparable to other working professions in their industry, it does not qualify as substantially gainful employment.
- Part-time employment without the opportunity for full-time employment. If a Veteran can only work eight hours per week at a restaurant, they almost always earn below the poverty threshold. This also qualifies as marginal employment, even if the per-hour salary is theoretically enough to earn a living wage .
- Employment in a protected work environment. The VA often considers Veterans still eligible for TDIU benefits if they are employed in a protected work environment, which often makes accommodations for conditions or injuries. However, the Veteran must prove that they work in a protected work environment if they hope to receive benefits despite their employment status. Evidence can include employer statements, W-2s, pay stubs, and so on.
As you can see, it is possible to work and still receive TDIU benefits as a Veteran with one or more service-connected conditions. However, youll need to take a few extra steps to prove that your employment does not disqualify you from TDIU benefits if you want to take advantage of this opportunity.
Employment Rates For Disabled Veterans
According to the ADA Website that tracks employment data for the disabled, veterans are employed at a very low rate. Veterans with no service-connected disabilities are only employed at a rate of 72% 68% for those with a 0-40% rating 58% for those rated 50-60% and only 25% of those with a 70% or higher rating are employed. Ensuring that these unemployed veterans have the income to sustain them is imperative and the least they deserve after giving so much to their country. While there are many programs out there designed to hire disabled veterans, there are not enough to employ every unemployed veteran who wants to work. Working with local employers to help make accommodations, educate them on how to work with disabled veterans, and designing work programs that work around disabilities is needed to ensure the vast growing number of disabled veterans will have a place in our workforce in the future.
You may also want to review our VA Unemployability Guide.
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Why Was My Tdiu Claim Denied
Sometimes, an application for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability is denied even though the Veteran has provided complete medical documentation and compelling reasons for his or her unemployability. This could happen because of mistaken considerations by the VA.
To prepare for these hangups, it helps to have a trusted attorney on your team. With the firepower of Berry Law, you can rest easier knowing that our Veteran attorneys will investigate any incorrect considerations by the VA.
Tdiu Permanent And Total
If your service-connected disabilities have progressed to the state that youre no longer able to work, you may be wondering how you will pay your bills. Fortunately, the VA offers special benefits to unemployable disabled veterans, including TDIU permanent and total benefits.
As veterans ourselves, we know how overwhelming it can be to deal with VA. As VA accredited lawyers, were ready to help our fellow servicemembers receive the benefits theyve earned. Contact us today to learn more.
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Common Reasons The Va Erroneously Denies Tdiu Claims
Though the VA denies some TDIU claims because the evidence of record at the time of the VAs decision fails to show the veteran is unable to work due to service-connected impairments, many times the VA denies a TDIU claim that it should grant based on the evidence of record already in the veterans claims file. Though there are many reasons why your TDIU claim may have been wrongfully denied by the VA, below are some of the most common rationales that the VA uses in erroneously denying TDIU claims. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list by any means.
If your claim for a TDIU rating has been denied, please contact The Veterans Law Office for a free case evaluation. Our veterans disability attorneys will review your rating decision and complete a telephone consultation with you so that we can assess whether there is an effective strategy to win your claim for a TDIU rating. If you feel you are unable to work due to your service-connected impairments, our office is here to help.
The Va Requirements For Schedular Tdiu
To receive benefits for schedular TDIU, you must meet two different requirements, one for your rating and one based on your ability to work:
If you have multiple conditions that dont meet the 60 percent or 40 percent one condition requirement, you could still qualify for schedular TDIU. The VA will combine multiple conditions into one condition for the purposes of TDIU if they meet any of these requirements:
- Disabilities of one or both arms or legs
- Disabilities resulting from common etiology or a single accident
- Disabilities affect a single body system
- Examples include disabilities impacting orthopedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular-renal, or the neuropsychiatric system
How To Apply For 100% Va Unemployability
There are three ways to apply for VA unemployability, also known as Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability or TDIU:
- You can use the Department of Veterans Affairs websites eBenefits portal.
- You can do it in person at your local VA office. The benefit here is that a field representative from the VA will walk you through the process. For help locating the nearest office, use the location directory on the VA website.
- You can apply with the help of a legal representative or accredited VA claims agent.
The form asks for information, such as:
- The nature of your service-connected medical condition that prevents you from maintaining substantially gainful employment
- Whether you have been hospitalized or under a doctors care during the past 12 months
- The date you became too disabled to work
- Your employment history for the last five years you worked
- All education and work-related training you received before and after becoming too disabled to work.
It is vital to make sure you have all the documentation you need for a successful claim. If you have already applied for VA unemployability but received a denial from the VA, our team can help you appeal the VAs denial.
Housebound Benefits For Pension Recipients
Housebound benefits will be considered to exist when the veteran is rated with one of the following
- Has a single disability that is rated at a 100% and has additional disability rated at 60%,
- Be totally disabled from a single disability and be permanently housebound.
Permanently housebound occurs when the veteran is substantially confined, as a direct result of his disability, to his house, ward, or clinical area, and it is reasonably certain that the circumstances will continue throughout their lifetime. Congenital, developmental, hereditary, or familial conditions may be considered. Income and asset limits apply, but are at a higher rate than pension.
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How Do I Obtain A Permanent And Total Disability Rating
The first thing you must do to obtain a permanent and total disability rating is to prove that your condition is service-connected.
There is no VA benefits application for permanent and total disability. But if you believe that your total disability is unlikely to improve, and you have supporting evidence for this, you can write a letter to the VA requesting them to find you permanently and totally disabled. You should include medical evidence in your letter to support the request, including but not limited to medical reports, doctors notes, and treatment records.
The VA may determine at the time you apply for benefits that you are permanent and totally disabled. Be prepared to support this claim in the event they dont so designate you first.
What Can Disability Law Group Do for Me?
We want veterans to get the compensation they need and deserve for the service theyve provided our country. Our team has worked with countless veterans to explain how TDIU and permanent and total disability benefits can support them. We will review your case and advise you of your legal options. If your application was wrongfully denied, well step in and appeal the decision.
Trust Disability Law Group to help with your VA benefits application.
Examples Of Veterans Who Could Pursue Tdiu Vs 100% Disability
Example 1: Rated 70 percent for PTSD
If youre rated 70 percent for PTSD, you meet the criteria of one disability rated 60 percent or higher. Youll be approved for TDIU if you cant hold gainful employment.
Example 2: Rated 30 percent for right knee, 30 percent for right ankle, 20 percent for the right foot, 30 percent for asthma
The knee, ankle, and foot ratings combine to give you a 61 percent one condition rating which meets the requirement that one condition is rated at 40 percent or higher. Your combined rating example, youll be approved for TDIU if you cant hold gainful employment.
We cover the VAs definition of substantially gainful employment later in this article. But first, in case you dont meet the above rating requirements, lets explain extra-schedular TDIU.
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Our Lawyers Also Help Veterans File Claims For Tdiu Ratings On A Pro Bono Basis
While most veterans disability law firms only represent veterans after they have filed for and been denied a TDIU rating by the VA because the VA does not allow an attorney to charge a fee for representing veterans on initial claims, The Veterans Law Office maintains a significant pro bono practice in which its lawyers focus on helping veterans file initial claims for individual unemployability and service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental impairments, not to mention other initial claims that may result in significant compensation that can change veterans lives. Please contact our office today to learn whether there may be an effective strategy for our office to win your claim for a TDIU rating.