A total disability based on individual unemployment rating, or TDIU, allows a veteran to receive maximum compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) without having a 100 percent combined disability rating. TDIU disability benefits are awarded to veterans who are unable to work as a result of their service-connected impairments and who have not already received a combined 100 percent disability rating for service-related conditions.
If a former servicemember can prove that their disabilities prevent them from working, so long as all of those disabilities are directly connected to their active duty service, or service-connected, they may be eligible to receive TDIU. In other words, they must establish that they are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment before VA will award entitlement to TDIU.
Any veteran who is entitled to receive service connection for one or more disabilities can apply for TDIU. In other words, simply receiving compensation for one or more disabilities from VA entitles a former servicemember to apply for TDIU. However, that does not mean every one of those applicants will receive or be granted TDIU.
Although many veterans believe they must meet the schedular TDIU criterion before applying for TDIU, any former servicemember with at least one service-connected condition can apply. In most cases, the higher combined rating a veteran has for service-connected conditions, the better the chance they have that VA will consider their application favorably; however, there is no minimum rating to request that VA review their service-connected disabilities and make a determination if they are able to maintain substantially gainful employment.
Qualifying for schedular TDIU disability benefits makes it easier to obtain an award of TDIU compensation. This is because the VA is more likely to approve an applicant who meets the basic minimum requirements for schedular TDIU rather than having to complete certain additional steps.
To qualify for schedular TDIU, a former servicemember must have either a combination of disabilities that are rated at 70 percent or higher – including at least one condition rated at 40 percent or higher – or one disability that is rated at 60 percent or higher. Of course, a veteran who is already rated at 100 percent would not typically apply for TDIU because they already have a total disability rating.
Receiving TDIU disability compensation does not mean a veteran cannot apply for other benefits. TDIU is only one path to being compensated at the 100 percent rate for service-connected disabilities.
While it can be easier than trying to bundle together all an applicant’s service-connected disabilities in a way that totals 100 percent on a schedular basis, they could always pursue both options simultaneously. They do not have to give up an appeal of certain service-connected conditions just to apply for TDIU.
A 100 percent disability rating received through TDIU means that a former servicemember is unable to maintain substantially gainful employment. Although most awards of TDIU are permanent, if a veteran is later able to begin working and maintain that substantially gainful employment, then they will lose their TDIU award.
It is also important to keep in mind that a veteran who receives a 100 percent rating from VA on a schedular basis, meaning that they meet the criteria for 100 percent rating through the natural combination of their service-connected disabilities, is still allowed to work. In this way, it can be more advantageous to try to obtain a combined rating of 100 percent without requesting TDIU, since employment would then still be allowed.
There are a number of ways that an attorney can assist a veteran who wants to apply for TDIU. It is very important to understand that the foundation for TDIU could be based on either one or multiple service-connected conditions. A VA-accredited legal representative from our firm can review the disabilities that you are already service-connected for, possible rate increases that you may be able to receive to make obtaining TDIU easier, and any pending appeals or claims that should be completed before the TDIU application is filed. Having this insight and understanding would be beneficial prior to applying, so call our team today.