Many veterans who return home from active duty and suffer from service-connected injuries or illnesses that affect their quality of life. These veterans should file claims under the VA’s disability compensation program or file an appeal if those claims have been denied. This program provides benefits to veterans regardless of their ability to earn a living in civilian life.
However, some veterans are so affected by injuries and disabilities suffered during military service that they can no longer hold a steady job. This can be true even for those whose claims for disability compensation do not indicate 100 percent ratings.
Fortunately, if you suffer from such a condition or combination of service-connected conditions, you may qualify for benefits including a total disability rating based on individual unemployability, or TDIU. A VA-accredited attorney could help you determine if your conditions make you eligible for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability, as well as help you file a claim for total disability individual unemployability benefits or pursue an appeal in case of a denial. It is important to note that although VA will routinely deny you if you have a rating lower than 70-percent, that does not exclude you from being able to pursue entitlement to TDIU on an extraschedular basis.
The stresses of serving in an active-duty military role can create health problems for many veterans. A combination of physical and mental conditions could leave you with reduced mobility, emotional concerns, or a general inability to care for your own needs.
When these conditions become so severe as that they prevent you from working, they may qualify you for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability, which provides monthly payments to veterans as if they were 100 percent disabled under traditional VA disability compensation benefit plans. In this program, the VA examines a veteran’s medical conditions and gathers evidence showing how those medical conditions prevent them from working a full-time job. VA calls this ability to work in a full-time job the ability to maintain substantially gainful employment. It is important to note that VA uses the term “maintain” – if you are easily finding, but then being terminated from employment, you may qualify for this benefit.
Any veteran who files a claim for VA disability benefits would receive a disability rating from the VA unless all issues are denied. This zero-to-100 percent rating system is based on a veteran’s medical conditions and assigns benefits based on how severely their conditions affect their health.
A veteran who qualifies for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability can receive benefits regardless of their assigned disability rating. Normally, to gain these benefits, you must meet two qualifying criteria, the first of which is to have a singular disabling condition that results in a rating of at least 60 percent. Alternatively, you may have two or more conditions with one of them meriting a rating of at least 40 percent and a total rating of 70 percent. However, even if you do not meet these first qualifying criteria you may qualify for TDIU on an extraschedular basis. Contact VetLaw for more information on how to apply for TDIU if you do not meet the baseline criteria.
Second, you must be unable to work a substantially gainful job, or in VA’s language, maintain that substantially gainful employment. This term generally equates to the ability to keep a full-time job for at least a year, but there are numerous exceptions to this requirement. VA is supposed to review your work history and education and send you for medical examinations to measure the effect of your disabilities on employment. If the VA determines you are unable to maintain full-time employment after considering your job skills and disabling limitations, it can issue benefits at the 100 percent rate by assigning a total disability rating based on individual unemployability.
The VA’s TDIU program can increase your disability compensation benefits to the maximum available level if your condition leaves you unable to maintain full-time employment. These processes examine both your medical conditions and work history to determine whether your condition or conditions are severe enough to warrant total disability individual unemployability benefits.
A dedicated VetLaw attorney could help you evaluate whether you qualify for this program and pursue a claim or appeal a denied application for TDIU. Contact our team today to review your current level of veterans’ benefits and whether you may qualify for a total disability rating, no matter what your current rating may be.