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TDIU Back Pay

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The VA provides Total Disability based on Individual Unemployment (TDIU) benefits to qualified disabled veterans. If your service-connected disability or disabilities prevent you from working, you may be eligible for TDIU.

We know that veterans can face many obstacles when applying for benefits. The VA’s rules and regulations change frequently. And, it can be difficult to even know what application you need to fill out. Our veteran-owned practice is devoted to helping our fellow veterans pursue the benefits they deserve.

It costs you nothing upfront to have us get started on your veterans disability claim. We only collect a fee after we secure benefits for you. If the VA ultimately denies your claim, you won’t owe us any money. Contact us today to learn how we can help you apply for TDIU or pursue TDIU back pay if you have received a denial of benefits.


If you qualify for TDIU benefits, the VA will assign an effective date to your claim. The VA’s process to determine this date is complex. Your effective date may depend on:

  • The date the VA received your initial claim (not just the TDIU form)
  • The date you became eligible for benefits
  • If you recently left active service
  • If your disability is a presumptive condition
  • If you have a reopened claim
  • Any new VA regulations

Simply put, your effective date may make you eligible for TDIU back pay. Informally, this back pay is also called “TDIU retro pay.”


You may qualify for TDIU benefits if your service-connected disability or disabilities prevent you from maintaining what the VA calls “substantially gainful employment.” This means you cannot hold a steady job to support yourself. You can qualify for TDIU and still work some types of seasonal or odd jobs.

Your VA disability rating can be lower than 100%, but you must generally meet the TDIU disability percentage threshold:

  • One service-connected disability that is 60% or greater; or
  • Multiple service-connected disabilities, with a combined rating of at least 70% and one of these disabilities is 40% or more disabling
  • If you don’t meet the schedular criteria noted above, you may still qualify for extraschedular TDIU

We can help you at any point in the disability benefits process. If you still need to file an initial VA disability claim or pursue a VA disability appeal, please reach out to us.


Your TDIU back pay effective date determines your retro pay. This amount is unique for each veteran. When we review your case, we can discuss your potential back pay amount. You can also use our TDIU back pay calculator to get an estimate. Since the effective date for TDIU is a complicated question, we may not be able to fully answer this question without reviewing your complete VA claims file.


There are several advantages to partnering with our firm to complete your TDIU claim.

Our lawyers know what information the VA needs to see in a strong claim. We’ll send a complete application with supporting documents. When necessary, we can help you obtain service records, medical records, and lay or “buddy” statements.

We will be your advocate with the VA. While the decision-makers at the VA have the final say, we can make sure they handle your claim fairly and follow the applicable rules and regulations.

We can help you pursue an appeal. Our firm can help you with the appeal process to achieve the maximum amount of back pay for TDIU, even if we didn’t work on your initial application. Appeals are fairly common, and can arise even after a simple error or omission.


Is TDIU the same as a 100% disability rating?

We receive a lot of questions about how TDIU and disability ratings are intertwined. The confusion arises because if you qualify for TDIU, your benefit amount will be the same as if you were 100% disabled. However, TDIU eligibility does not alter your disability rating.

You may qualify for TDIU if:

  • Your service-connected disability prevents you from working, and
  • You meet the VA’s disability rating threshold for TDIU benefits.

This threshold is lower than 100%, and depends on how many service-connected disabilities you have.

How long does it take to receive TDIU back pay?

Historically, it takes many veterans several months to have their claim processed. The VA continually updates their average number of days to review a claim on their website.

At VetLaw, we ensure that every application we work on is complete and accurate. This attention to detail helps avoid any delays with your individual unemployability decision and the receipt of the maximum amount of back pay.

What does the VA consider ‘substantially gainful employment?

For the VA’s purposes, “substantially gainful employment” is a steady enough job to support yourself. You may still qualify for TDIU if you work certain odd or seasonal jobs. If you currently work less than full-time hours, we can let you know if you meet TDIU requirements. Remember, it costs nothing just to get answers or have us review your case to see if you should apply for TDIU or file an appeal. You only pay us if the VA approves your benefits.


A VA Disability Lawyer’s role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating appeals process if you have been denied benefits, and assist you with disabilities you may wish to appeal. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement to VA compensation.

If your VA disability claim has been denied, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.