TDIU Permanent and Total

If your service-connected disabilities have progressed to the state that you’re no longer able to work, you may be wondering how you will pay your bills. Fortunately, the VA offers special benefits to unemployable disabled veterans, including TDIU permanent and total benefits.

As veterans ourselves, we know how overwhelming it can be to deal with VA. As VA accredited lawyers, we’re ready to help our fellow servicemembers receive the benefits they’ve earned. Contact us today to learn more.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Overview

Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are available to veterans who cannot work due to their service-connected condition. VA refers to this as the inability to maintain substantially gainful employment. TDIU is one of several special claims benefits that the VA offers to disabled veterans.

Veterans may receive TDIU benefits on a temporary basis or indefinitely. When a veteran cannot return to any type of gainful employment, they may qualify for TDIU with permanent and total benefits.

Some veterans receive TDIU for a limited period of time. They may be temporarily unable to work but then recover and return to work.

However, many veterans will qualify for TDIU permanent and total benefits. Their service-connected disability prevents them from maintaining “substantially gainful employment,” which the VA defines as a steady job that can financially support them with an income above the federal poverty level.

Veterans who receive TDIU permanent and total benefits may still be able to work odd jobs, or certain part-time employment, without losing their compensation. However, it’s important to remember that VA will review all work attempts and annual compensation, and a veteran can still lose eligibility for TDIU even when VA has previously awarded permanent and total status.

TDIU Permanent and Total Benefits Eligibility

A veteran must meet certain eligibility requirements before they can receive TDIU permanent and total benefits:

1. Your inability to work must be caused by a service-connected condition or multiple service-connected conditions. That means you have already been awarded service connection because either:

2. Your service-connected disability or service-connected disabilities must prevent you from working a steady job that would allow you to support yourself, without considering any other disabilities which are not related to your active duty service.

  • This does not necessarily mean that you cannot work at all. Some veterans who receive TDIU permanent and total benefits work part-time at seasonal, odd, or flexible jobs. The VA may consider this type of work “marginal employment.” These jobs can accommodate your disability in ways that a typical, full-time employer cannot.


The Difference Between TDIU Permanent and Total and a 100 Percent Disability Rating

At first glance, it may seem like the qualifications for schedular TDIU benefits are the same as a 100% disability rating. However, this is not the case. The goal of TDIU permanent and total benefits is to compensate veterans with a lower rating at the same level as veterans who receive 100% disability payments.

To qualify for schedular TDIU benefits, one of the following must be true:

  • You have one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher; or
  • You have two or more service-connected disabilities, with
    – One disability rated at least 40%, and
    – A combined disability rating of 70% or more

In special cases, if you have a disability rating lower than the above requirements but your service-connected disability or disabilities still prevent you from maintaining substantially gainful employment, you may be approved for TDIU permanent and total benefits on an extraschedular basis. These cases are exceptional in nature and require special review by the Director of Compensation Service. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if the Director of Compensation Service denies extraschedular TDIU, the Board of Veterans Appeals can overturn that decision on appeal.

Four Ways a VA Disability Lawyer Can Help

At VetLaw, our VA disability lawyers are all accredited and can help you secure the benefits you may qualify for by:

  1. Filing an appeal if your disability or TDIU claim is denied
  2. Helping you gather and keep track of the paperwork that the VA requires
  3. Keeping track of important deadlines
  4. Notifying you of any other VA benefits you may qualify for

The laws that regulate VA benefits can change at any time. If you were denied VA benefits in the past, you could qualify now. Reach out to our lawyers to learn more with a free case review.

Matthew  White


Appellate Attorney Matthew White represents veterans before the Board of Veterans Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Brendan Garcia


Owner and Lead Attorney Brendan Garcia represents veterans in all 50 states with their VA Disability Appeals, in all stages of the VA Appeals process.


VetLaw’s experienced veterans’ disability lawyers are all accredited by VA, and can help analyze the reasons for your initial or any subsequent denial, assist you in gathering any additional evidence that can help prove your case, and guide you to pursue the appeal path that aligns with your unique circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, we can appear with you before the Veterans’ Law Judge who will hold your hearing and decide your case. Since the time to file a request for an appeal is limited, call us today to schedule a free case review.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability and Social Security Disability Insurance are separate programs with different eligibility requirements. It’s possible that you could receive both types of compensation. However, receiving TDIU doesn’t automatically qualify you for SSDI. You have to submit a separate application for SSDI.

No. Veterans with physical and/or mental disabilities may be eligible for TDIU permanent and total benefits. The requirements are the same for both types of disabilities in that you must have a service-connected condition or multiple service-connected conditions that prevent you from obtaining and maintaining substantially gainful employment.

The first step in the process is to complete VA Form 21-8940. This form can also be completed online in your eBenefits portal or over the phone, or you can mail it, fax it, or bring it with you to your regional VA office. It’s important to note you can file this form at any time, but VA will generally not process it unless you have already established entitlement to service connection for at least one condition.

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Please fill out the form below, or give us a call, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. The more detail you can provide, the better we can determine if we can help you. (And even if we can’t take your case, we will do our best to offer other options, and point you in the best direction we can!)

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