Are you a disabled veteran? Do you need assistance pursuing the disability benefits that you need and deserve? As a disabled veteran and attorney, George Sink, Sr. and his team understand the struggles that veterans face seeking benefits. He is committed to helping those who sacrificed so much for our country secure the compensation they need to support themselves.
If a veteran’s disability is rated less than a total 100 percent evaluation and they are unable to obtain or maintain substantial gainful employment, the veteran can apply for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). A veteran in South Carolina who is awarded TDIU receives the same level of compensation and related benefits as a veteran with a total 100 percent rating.
TDIU is based on the severity of a veteran’s disability and the impact of the disability on the veteran’s ability to obtain and maintain substantial gainful employment. To be eligible for TDIU, the veteran needs to have either a single disability rated at 60 percent or a combined evaluation of 70 percent with one disability rated at 40 percent or more.
If you need help filing or appealing a TDIU benefits application in South Carolina, make sure that you have legal counsel. An experienced attorney will know how to properly file your application and what evidence to submit if you have to appeal a decision.
Attorney George Sink, Sr. and his team are prepared to work hard to help you seek all of the benefits you are entitled to. Call us or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
Types of TDIU Benefits in South Carolina
Veterans awarded TDIU benefits receive the same level of compensation and related benefits as veterans with total 100 percent ratings. Totally disabled veterans can be eligible for a number of other benefits.
Permanently and totally disabled veterans can be eligible for a homestead tax deduction and a total exemption of property tax on their homes. If a veteran is permanently and totally disabled and was awarded a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, their children can receive free tuition at state schools.
Permanently and totally disabled veterans can also receive free fishing and hunting licenses in South Carolina. They can also receive discounted admissions to state parks.
TDIU Requirements in South Carolina
To obtain TDIU benefits, a person must:
- Be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces
- Who is unable to obtain or maintain gainful employment and has a single disability rated at 60 percent
- Or a combined evaluation of 70 percent with one disability rated at 40 percent or more
You will need to submit evidence of at least one service-connected disability.
Medical evidence will usually include an evaluation of the veteran’s current physical and mental condition, results of United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) examinations, hospital reports, and outpatient records. The VA can schedule medical examinations when veterans have incomplete or inconsistent medical evidence.
A veteran will also need to provide a work history covering employment for the five years prior to the date the veteran became disabled and any work performed after that date. Every employer that the veteran worked for during the 12 months prior to the date they last worked also needs to complete forms.
If the veteran receives Social Security Disability benefits, Social Security Administration reports may also be required. When evidence suggests rehabilitation was sought but unsuccessful or medically unfeasible, records from the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service (VR&E) may be necessary.
Even when TDIU benefits are granted, veterans need to complete a VA employment questionnaire every year until they turn 69 years of age. The questionnaire will serve to affirm that a veteran remains incapable of maintaining substantially gainful employment.
TDIU Claims Process in South Carolina
Veterans need to demonstrate a single disability rated at 60 percent or a combined evaluation of 70 percent with one disability rated at 40 percent or more, but they can still be considered for TDIU in other exceptional or unusual circumstances. For example, a veteran with a disability or multiple disabilities rated lower than the required levels may have a disability that directly interferes with employability or requires medical treatment so often that regular employment is impractical.
A veteran’s TDIU claim needs to show that their service-connected disability or disabilities are “sufficient, without regard to other factors, to prevent performing the mental and/or physical tasks required to get or keep substantially gainful employment.” The phrase “substantially gainful employment” is defined as “employment at which non-disabled individuals earn their livelihood with earnings comparable to the particular occupation in the community where the veteran resides.”
The VA states that substantially gainful employment is more than marginal employment, which is defined as earning income that does not exceed the poverty threshold for one person established by the United States Census Bureau. For 2017, the poverty threshold for one person under 65 years of age was $12,752 and the poverty threshold for a person 65 years of age or older was $11,756.
A veteran who is in a sheltered work environment, employed by family businesses, or self-employed can earn more than the poverty threshold and still be considered for TDIU. Money earned through participation in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program will not be counted as income. Veterans with 100 percent disability ratings are allowed to maintain substantially gainful employment, but TDIU beneficiaries cannot.
Options After Being Denied TDIU Benefits
TDIU benefits have become increasingly difficult to obtain and lawmakers have considered reducing their availability several times in recent years. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recommended in reports published in November 2013, August 2014, and December 2016 that TDIU should be limited based on age and entitlement to other federal benefits. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) made a similar recommendation in a June 2015 report.
The Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 budget contained a proposal to terminate TDIU ratings for veterans at 62 years of age and end TDIU benefits for veterans already in receipt of Social Security retirement benefits. The proposal never materialized but resulted in the introduction of the Protecting Benefits for Disabled Veterans Act of 2017 (H.R. 4369) in November 2017.
When your TDIU application is denied, you will want to file an appeal. You have one year to file an appeal, and you can submit a new application if you miss the one-year deadline.
You should always investigate your appeal options, as some veterans make the mistake of submitting new applications instead of appealing, which can lead to considerable delays.
How DisabledVets Can Help with your TDIU
Do you need assistance obtaining TDIU benefits in South Carolina? Quickly contact attorney George Sink, Sr. today so you can get all of the help you need and deserve.
We were founded by a disabled veteran and represent disabled veterans in South Carolina and all over the county. Our lawyers can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.