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VA Individual Unemployability Timeline: How Long Will It Take To Get Benefits?

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Did you know that in August 2021, about 27 percent of veterans in the U.S. had a service-connected disability? If you fall into this category, you may be eligible for disability compensation. This is designed to provide income support so you can lead a normal life. However, VA benefits have become extremely complicated in recent years. If you are applying or planning to apply for the benefits, consider hiring a lawyer. In addition, you may want to familiarize yourself with a few basics, including the VA Individual Unemployability timeline.

Here’s what to know.


Individual Unemployability (IU) is a special disability compensation program offered through the VA. These benefits are reserved for veterans who cannot obtain or maintain significantly gainful employment due to their service-connected disability or disabilities.

Eligible veterans will receive a tax-free monthly benefit at the 100-percent rate even if their combined ratings do not reach 100 percent disability.

To be eligible for compensation, you must:

  • Be a veteran
  • Be service-connected for one or more disabilities which prevent you from holding a steady job
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from active duty
  • Have either:
    a. One service-related disability rated at 60 percent or higher, or
    b. Multiple disabilities, one rated at 40 percent or higher and a total rating of at least 70 percent.

In certain cases, you may qualify for extraschedular TDIU if you do not meet the above requirements.


Understanding the process to prove VA Individual Unemployability will help ensure you take the right steps. Below are the main phases of the VA Individual Unemployability timeline.

  1. Filing a claim: The first step to getting compensation is to file your application for TDIU. In general, you must have already established a service connection for at least one condition before filing the application on the claim form that VA requires, the VA Form 21-8940.
  2. Rating decision: The VA will review your application and make a decision after conducting the development of the case. When you receive the initial decision, you will know whether you have been awarded benefits. If you are successful at this stage, you will not need to appeal the decision unless you disagree with the effective date of the award of TDIU.
  3. Filing an appeal: If you feel that the VA made any unfair adverse decisions, you will have one year from the time you receive the rating decision to make an appeal. However, the appeal process can be complex and cumbersome. This is why you should seek the help of a veterans’ benefits lawyer.
  4. BVA decision: If you choose to file your appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), a veterans law judge will evaluate your appeal i. However, this is a long process that may take several years. As such, you will want to ensure that you explore all your options and consult with an attorney before taking this step.
  5. Additional appeals: If your appeal is denied, you will still have other options available to you. You may be able to file a Supplemental Claim if you have new and relevant evidence that was not available to BVA. If you do not have any additional evidence, then you can file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Although rare, decisions from CAVC are sometimes appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and even the United States Supreme Court.
  6. Verification: Depending on the circumstances, you will receive the final decision regarding entitlement to TDIU through any of the paths listed above. It’s important to keep in mind that you must notify VA if you begin working again at any point in the future.


The VA Individual Unemployability process can be complicated and time-consuming. To ensure a smooth process that will save you a lot of frustration, you should be familiar with the timeline beforehand.

Knowing the timeline will enable you to prepare psychologically and organize all the necessary documents. You will also have a rough idea of how much time the entire process will take. Lastly, a good understanding of the process will put you in a better position to get legal assistance.


Before starting the VA Individual Unemployability process, you will want to know how long your claim will take. Generally, the VA takes four to 10 months to issue an initial decision. However, an appeal at the BVA can take several years, depending on which path you choose and whether you request a hearing with a veterans law judge. Several factors may affect how long your claim will take. They include:

  • How well prepared you are for the process
  • The number and nature of your disabilities
  • Whether you have a lawyer on your side
  • The point at which you get a favorable decision


The importance of working with a lawyer when seeking VA Individual Unemployability benefits cannot be denied. Here is how a VA-accredited attorney can help.


Most lawyers stay on top of changing regulations and procedures. As such, a qualified VA accredited lawyer will help you understand the process so that you are mentally prepared, make informed decisions and take the right actions. They will also use their expert knowledge to ensure you do everything right.


Filing a claim can be a taxing undertaking. Your lawyer will help you determine eligibility for the benefits before you begin the process. This will save you time, money, and frustration.


A veterans’ benefits lawyer will help you file your application. The professional will also ensure you submit quality and relevant evidence. This will increase your chances of getting a favorable decision.


The process of appealing decisions relating to VA Individual Unemployability can be confusing and protracted. Your lawyer will help you handle the legal process and put their best foot forward to ensure things run smoothly.

Knowledge of the VA Individual Unemployability timeline will go a long way in ensuring your application is successful. However, you do not have to keep up with the changing regulations and procedures. An experienced veterans’ benefits lawyer will take care of the legal issues for you and see that the entire process is handled with utmost care.