Frustrated veteran trying to apply for TDIU under the 70 40 rule

What is the VA 70/40 Rule for TDIU?

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The VA stipulates that disabled veterans seeking TDIU benefits must have a certain level or combination of disability ratings to be eligible for compensation.


  • The VA 70/40 rule for TDIU requires veterans to have a combined disability rating of 70% or higher and at least one service-related disability rated at 40% or higher to be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
  • TDIU benefits provide compensation at the 100% disability rate to veterans whose service-related conditions prevent them from keeping a stable job. Vets do not need a 100% disability rating for TDIU.
  • Veterans can qualify for TDIU benefits through two pathways: having a single disability rated at 60% or higher or meeting the 70/40 rule with multiple disabilities.
  • If the VA denies you TDIU benefits, you can file an appeal showing you meet the 70/40 rule requirements.

The VA disability claims process is characterized by detailed requirements and regulations, like the VA 70/40 rule for TDIU. This can make it difficult for veterans to know which disability benefits they qualify for and how to go about proving their eligibility.

Veterans disability claims lawyers, like our seasoned team at VetLaw, have worked closely with vets from all over the country to pursue the disability benefits they deserve. We will simplify the VA claims process for you while remaining committed to maximizing your disability benefits.

Schedule a free consultation with our team by calling (855) 964-1925 or by filling out an online contact form. Let VetLaw take charge of your VA disability appeal to secure the TDIU benefits you need.

Defining the VA 70/40 Rule for TDIU Benefits

In addition to fulfilling the Individual Unemployability requirement for TDIU benefits, veterans also have to observe the VA 70/40 rule. That is unless they have a service-related disability with a rating of 60% or more. The 70 and 40 also refer to VA disability rating percentages.

The VA 70/40 rule for TDIU benefits consists of three parts. All of the following must apply in order for a veteran to be eligible for TDIU benefits under this rule:

  • You have more than one service-related mental or physical condition
  • At least one of your service-related disabilities has a VA disability rating of 40% or higher
  • Your combined disability rating is 70% or higher

Let’s look at an example of how this works. A veteran has multiple service-related conditions resulting from their time in the military:

On their own, these conditions may not prevent a veteran from maintaining gainful employment. However, when combined, their impact on the veteran is more substantial. Due to the symptoms of their service-related conditions, the vet may find themselves relegated to marginal jobs.

By using the percentage system for VA disability benefits, we can determine that this veteran’s combined disability rating is 69%. The VA would round up to 70%, satisfying the VA’s requirement for the overall disability rating.

The veteran’s 40% rating for lumbosacral strain fulfills the second clause of the VA 70/40 rule for TDIU. If the veteran in this example can demonstrate they qualify for an IU status, they would be eligible for TDIU benefits.

Understanding TDIU Benefits for Veterans With Service-Related Disabilities

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, is meant to replace the income a veteran loses due to service-related conditions. Like other VA disability benefits, the VA provides TDIU compensation on a monthly basis. To better understand TDIU, we can break it down into two components. 

First, let’s address Total Disability. Total Disability is VA benefits terminology for a veteran who has a 100% VA disability rating and is eligible for that level of compensation. Vets who qualify for Total Disability have at least one service-connected condition that is completely incapacitated, such as a Traumatic Brain Injury. This status can be permanent.

The second part of TDIU, Individual Unemployability, describes a requirement, rather than a benefit. For the VA to deem a veteran Individually Unemployable, the vet has to convince the VA that their service-related disabilities have prevented them from holding down a steady job that compensates them enough to live above the poverty level.

When you combine these two terms, you get TDIU. This indicates that a veteran is receiving the equivalent of Total Disability, or benefits at the 100% level, without holding a 100% VA disability rating. Additionally, it means that the veteran’s Total Disability benefits are contingent on their Individually Unemployable status.

Contact Our Skilled Veterans Disability Claims Attorneys About Seeking TDIU Benefits

It can be difficult to prove that you fulfill all of the requirements of the VA 70/40 rule for TDIU benefits, so don’t be discouraged if the VA denies your claim the first time. Our knowledgeable team of veterans disability benefits denial attorneys is proud to represent vets who are struggling to secure VA disability benefits.

We are VA-accredited, committed, and trusted by veterans nationwide. You can reach out to the team at VetLaw by calling (855) 964-1925 or by filling out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Secondary Conditions count towards my combined disability rating under the VA 70/40 rule?

Yes. The VA does not distinguish between disabilities with direct service connections and Secondary Conditions related to service-connected conditions when calculating a veteran’s combined disability rating. 

Can I appeal to increase my VA disability rating so I can be eligible for TDIU benefits?

If you believe that your VA disability rating for one of your service-related conditions is too low, you can appeal. Maybe you have new medical evidence from a specialist, your condition has gotten worse, you think the VA didn’t evaluate your symptoms accurately, or you have another reason to seek an increased disability rating.

If your claim for TDIU benefits was being held back because none of your service-related conditions had a 40% disability rating or your overall disability rating was less than 70%, and increasing the rating of one of your conditions rectified that issue, you may now qualify for TDIU benefits. You may also be entitled to TDIU back pay.

What is the purpose of having the VA 70/40 rule for TDIU?

As mentioned above, veterans do not need to worry about the VA 70/40 rule if they have one service-related condition with a 60% VA disability rating. So, why create another way for a veteran to qualify for TDIU when one already exists?

Basically, the VA 70/40 rule for TDIU adds an important nuance to the eligibility requirements. Offering this alternative acknowledges that a veteran may still struggle to maintain steady employment because of multiple, less debilitating conditions, as opposed to just one significant disability.