If you are unable to maintain employment due to an injury, illness, or condition connected with your military service, you may be eligible for “Total Disability Individual Unemployability,” also known as “TDIU.” Depending on the details of your situation, TDIU could provide benefits that are equal to a veteran receiving full disability compensation.
TDIU Veterans Lawyer: VA Disability Compensation
Your service in the military is a valuable contribution to your country, but unfortunately, it could leave you with injuries and other difficulties that impact your ability to work in civilian life. While there are options to apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a standard claim is not always successful.
Thankfully, an alternative TDIU filing can help you continue to pursue the compensation you deserve. A TDIU veterans lawyer can help you understand your specific options.
Are You Eligible for TDIU?
If your service-connected injury or illness prevents you from earning a living, but VA has not granted you a 100% disability rating, seeking Individual Unemployability status may be appropriate for you. It allows VA to pay certain veterans disability compensation at the 100% rate, even though the agency has not rated your service-connected disabilities at the total level.
VA benefits lawyers can advise you about your eligibility for Individual Unemployability (IU) and help you obtain this valuable benefit if you qualify. They know VA bureaucracy and the evidence required to obtain favorable benefit claim decisions for disabled veterans. They objective for every disabled vet’s case is to obtain the maximum benefit available for them.
VA requires veterans to prove their qualifications for disability benefits—and even then, the agency routinely denies legitimate TDIU claims. A disability lawyer can help you avoid losing money because of VA bureaucracy.
You do not have to go it alone. An attorney can fight for ALL of the VA compensation you deserve.
Qualifying for VA’s Individual Unemployability Benefit
VA’s Individual Unemployability (IU) benefit represents somewhat of a loophole for disabled veterans in the VA system. It allows a total disability rating for compensation (100%) to be assigned to a vet when their objective disability rating is less than total according to the VA rating schedule.
The IU benefit, sometime referred to as TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability), is based on the vet’s inability to maintain “substantially gainful employment” due to a service-connected illness or injury.
VA regulations require the vet to have at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more. Alternatively, if the vet has multiple disabilities, at least one must be rated at 40% or more, and in combination the vet’s disabilities should have a combined rating of 70% or more.
Exceptions to the Minimum VA Rating
Veterans who do not meet the minimum disability rating requirements for IU may be considered if they can demonstrate exceptional or unusual circumstances. For example, they could show that their disabilities directly interfere with their employability or require hospitalization often enough to make steady employment impractical.
The veteran’s claim must 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.”
Substantially Gainful vs. Marginally Gainful Employment
“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.”
VA regulations also make it clear that substantially gainful employment is more than marginal employment, which is a secondary standard for evaluating a vet’s earnings. Marginal employment is defined as earning income that does not exceed the poverty threshold for one person as established by the U.S. Census Bureau. For 2021, that threshold was $12,880.
Vets in sheltered work environments—such as those employed by family businesses or self-employed—may earn more than marginal employment income and still be considered for IU. In addition, money earned by participating in the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program is not counted as income for IU purposes.
A vet who has a 100% disability rating according to the VA rating schedule is permitted to maintain substantially gainful employment, but an IU benefit recipient is not.
TDIU Attorney: Eligibility Requirements for VA Benefits
Evidence that must be part of a veteran’s claim for IU/TDIU benefits includes:
- Medical evidence showing evaluation of the veteran’s current physical and mental condition, e.g., results of VA examinations, hospital reports, and/or outpatient records (As in other claims, the VA may schedule a medical examination if the veteran’s medical evidence is incomplete or inconsistent.)
- Employment and work history for five years prior to the date on which the veteran became too disabled to work, as well as for any work performed after this date
- Forms completed by each employer for whom the veteran worked during the 12-month period prior to the date they last worked
- Social Security Administration reports if the vet receives Social Security Disability benefits (This may be necessary if the veteran’s other evidence is insufficient to award compensation.)
- Records from VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service (VR&E) if evidence suggests rehab was undertaken but unsuccessful or was found to be medically unfeasible
If the IU benefit is granted, the vet must complete a VA employment questionnaire each year until the age of 69 to affirm that he or she remains incapable of maintaining substantially gainful employment.
Additional Considerations for TDIU Eligibility
VA disability raters are trained to consider IU only in exceptional cases. Examiners are also to consider the vet’s age and distinguish between retirement and inability due to age as opposed to a true service-connected disability resulting in unemployability.
As in other cases, VA claims examiners may request additional information at any time to supplement or clarify evidence in a veteran’s claim. This, of course, slows the process.
A disability lawyer’s objective is to avoid unnecessary delays or rejection of an IU benefits claim. They can do so by identifying and obtaining all necessary records to ensure every claim they handle is thorough, clear and convincing.
Understanding the VA Rating System
If you file a disability claim and VA approves it, your claim will be assigned a specific rating to represent how significantly your life has been affected by injury.
The rating schedule is important, because it will determine the amount of monthly compensation you qualify to receive. Generally, the severity of the injuries or disabilities directly correspond with higher benefit rates.
If you do not receive a full rating, you can still qualify for additional compensation through TDIU.
Are TDIU Benefits Taxable?
TDIU compensation is generally paid out on a monthly basis, and all disability compensation—including TDIU for veterans of the armed forces—is tax-free. You should not be taxed when any funds are received.
Additionally, you should be exempt from paying taxes on this income in the future. If you have specific questions regarding your benefits, it could be helpful to speak with a financial professional.
The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer
There are many potential benefits to hiring a lawyer if you find yourself with questions about disability benefits. A Total Disability Individual Unemployability Lawyer (TDIU) with experience in cases like these can explain your options, so you can make the best decision possible for you and your loved ones.
Being left unable to work and earn wages can be very stressful, and you do not deserve to live with stress and uncertainty after serving your country. While this is a challenging and vulnerable time, having a lawyer in your corner can help offer a general sense of support while being available to answer your questions about the process.
Lawyers can also assist with legal paperwork so that you can save time and spend your days doing the things you enjoy. Additionally, a lawyer can help you organize the facts of your case so that you have a fair shot at compensation from TDIU.
If you are interested in learning more about TDIU or have general questions, a lawyer near you is available to help.
A TDIU Lawyer Will Fight for Your IU 100% Disability Rating by VA
Your veterans disability lawyer can discuss requesting a total disability rating based in individual unemployability from VA. Then, they can help you compile the necessary evidence for such as disability rating. If it is at all possible for you to obtain this 100% disability benefit, you deserve to have someone fighting in your corner.
Veterans disability lawyers have helped thousands of disabled individuals receive the full benefit the U.S. government promised them. They can provide you with a free, no-obligation assessment of your qualifications for IU benefits, and will fight for you if there is a way forward. The primary objective is to get ALL disability benefits available to clients into their hands as soon as possible.
Call for a free consultation today.