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What You Need to Know Before Filing A TDIU Claim

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Receiving the compensation you are due for a service-related disability can be a complicated and often frustrating process, particularly if you need to file a TDIU claim. If you are a U.S. Military veteran with a service-related disability and should be eligible for TDIU, we may be able to help you navigate the process.

What is a Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Claim?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) administers Individual Unemployability (IU) to pay 100% of certain Veterans compensation, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at that level.

What kind of benefits can I get?

  • Health care
  • Compensation (payments)

Am I Eligible for Individual Unemployability?

VBA lays out the requirements to qualify for Individual Unemployability including the following:

  • You must be a Veteran.
  • You must be unable to hold a job because of service-connected disabilities. This must be substantially gainful employment and not “odd jobs.”
  • Your inability to work must be related to service-connected disabilities. The VA will review the evidence and decide whether a Veteran’s disability is, by law, severe enough to grant individual unemployability.

What Should You Include in Your Claim for TDIU?

To apply for TDIU you must include the following:

  • VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability
  • Past employment information
  • Education information
  • Earnings history

How to Start the Application Process

It’s important to ensure your paperwork and process is carried out in the proper manner.

Ensure you file the Correct Application Form

You must correctly fill out the Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) form, VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability. This form requires all information to be accurate and complete. If you fail to include all of the information and documentation, VA may defer or deny your claim.

When filling out this form, you must include all the requested information along with any supporting documentation. Any inaccurate information or incomplete sections may lead VA to deny or defer your TDIU claim.

What Evidence and Information Should I provide in my Claim?

Medical Evidence to Include

Medical evidence can support your TDIU claim by showing how your service-connected disabilities prevent you from obtaining and sustaining substantially gainful employment. Some medical evidence can include the following:

  • Medical Diagnoses
  • Lab reports
  • Doctor’s Treatment notes
  • VA examinations
  • Dates of treatment and hospitalization
  • Medical opinion or letter from your doctor
  • Other Documentation from your doctor appointments that supports your inability to hold a job.

Prior Employment Information to Include

You must include all employers for the last five years of employment. The VA will often ask prior employers that you listed to complete a Request for Employment Information in Connection with Claim for Disability Benefits.

Provide Your Educational Information

You must also include your education and/ or training that you received both before and after you became too disabled to work.

Provide your Earnings History

When completing VA Form 21-8940, you must also fill out sections pertaining to your salary while employed. Such information is important to determine whether you made substantially gainful earnings, i.e. earned an income above the poverty threshold.

How long will my TDIU claim take?

The VA may take 4-10 months to issue an initial decision.

You Can Still Receive Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Disability

You may have more than one reason that you are unable to work. The VA cannot discriminate against you if you are receiving disability payments for workers comp or another non-service-related injury.

You May Still Qualify for TDIU Even if you Have a Job

If you are working, but your income is below the poverty threshold, you may still qualify for individual unemployability. This is called marginal employment.

What should I do if my TDIU Claim is Denied?

If you filed a claim for TDIU and you were denied, our attorneys can help you! We can assist with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) or a request for Higher Level Review (HLR) following the decision. Keep in mind that this is time-sensitive and the NOD or HLR request must be filed within a year of the decision; otherwise, it becomes final and can only be reopened by providing new and relevant evidence. We can help you select the correct appeal type for your situation, review the reasons for VA’s denial, and submit everything to VA on your behalf.

We understand how important the successful outcome of a TDIU claim is to you. Contact us today for a free case review.