Many applications for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) are denied, because it is much harder to prove that a disability or combination of disabilities prevents a veteran from maintaining substantially gainful employment. Relating debilitating conditions to active duty service is generally easier than proving an inability to work.
Most of the time, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will deny an initial application for TDIU since many applicants do not submit enough evidence to prove they are unable to work. Although VA provides each veteran with the benefit of the doubt on any question of entitlement, obtaining TDIU is one of the most challenging claims to win the first time around.
Fortunately, a TDIU denial lawyer from our team can help you understand the reasons for a rejection from VA and take steps to help you win entitlement to TDIU on appeal. One of our VA-accredited attorneys can assist you by reviewing your evidence, filing a response, and developing the case to give you the best chance of success in obtaining a favorable decision.
Medical records submitted in an initial application for TDIU rarely contain the information needed to qualify a veteran for benefits. For example, a doctor may note restrictions on employment or other activities, but they are not necessarily detailed enough to explain the functional impact of a disability and how it impacts work. Unless a doctor is writing a report specifically for VA, he or she probably did not write those medical records with TDIU in mind.
Additionally, if a former servicemember does not meet the schedular criteria for TDIU, they may want to consider trying to raise their underlying disability levels before applying for TDIU. If a veteran has disabilities that are not service-connected, VA often uses that as negative evidence as well.
VA may also deny a claim if a veteran has worked many different jobs in the past. That is not a good reason for VA to deny an applicant, but it happens often. It is also worth noting that simply failing to adequately explain why a veteran is unable to maintain gainful employment will lead to a denial of benefits. These are things that working on an appeal with an attorney could help solve.
VA may allege that even though a former servicemember is disabled, fired, or unable to maintain employment in their trained profession or in a job they have had for many years, it does not matter because they could perform sedentary employment. Sedentary employment has not been explicitly defined by VA but is typically interpreted as sitting in an office setting or in a factory setting and doing a desk job that requires no physical activity.
However, that definition does not consider the limitations of a psychiatrically disabled veteran and also fails to consider the ramifications of a physically disabled veteran sitting all day. VA has recently backed down to a certain extent on this phrase, but most likely it will attempt to pass new regulations that better define sedentary employment in the near future.
Prior TDIU denials matter for a person currently applying for TDIU. The new Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) has made it more difficult to “reopen” or file a supplemental claim for TDIU if a former servicemember has been denied in the past. This does not pertain to somebody who has been denied in the past year and is appealing the decision, as that is part of the appeals process.
A veteran who applied several years ago, failed to file an appeal, and is now attempting to reply for TDIU will have more trouble being approved. Although there is no limit to the number of times that a veteran can apply, under the AMA, new and relevant evidence is now required to file a supplemental claim for TDIU.
The good news is that a lot of things can change in a year’s time. New and relevant evidence may include worsening disabilities, the inability to find suitable employment, or being fired from a job due to your service-connected conditions causing interference with employment.
Receiving a denial letter from VA does not mean that your claim is over. A member of our team can help you review your case and file an appeal to obtain the benefits you are entitled to. For help with understanding what to do after a rejection from VA, reach out to a TDIU denial lawyer from our firm today.