Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is awarded to veterans who are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of one or more service-connected conditions. If you have questions about the way the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) awards disability compensation to former servicemembers who are unable to work, you should ask one of VetLaw’s attorneys about the process of receiving TDIU benefits.
TDIU disability compensation is always sent to the recipient of benefits. It is awarded on a monthly basis and is always sent to the qualifying veteran. The only exception is if the recipient is so disabled that they are deemed incompetent by VA, meaning they are unable to understand their benefits or handle their own financial affairs.
It is a rare, unusual circumstance when a fiduciary is appointed to handle the financial affairs of a former servicemember. A representative payee may be appointed by the government to make sure that the basic needs of the veteran are being covered, that the money is being spent for the benefit of the recipient, and that the beneficiary is not being taken advantage by somebody if they are unable to understand or comprehend where their money is going or what it is being spent on.
If the veteran deemed to be incompetent is married, VA is likely to appoint their spouse as their fiduciary. The Agency’s goal is avoid having a stranger come in the mix to handle a former servicemember’s money. If a veteran does not have any family nearby or a spouse, then VA has the option to appoint fiduciaries that are not related. Otherwise, a veteran has full control of how they spend the money. They are not required to spend it in a specific way.
Typically, if a spouse is the fiduciary, they would handle the monthly check that comes in the veteran’s name. However, VA does not give a spouse or family member the same freedom as a former servicemember would have to spend the money on anything.
A fiduciary, even if it is the veteran’s spouse, must provide reports to VA on how the money is being spent so the Agency can make sure that it is being spent in the veteran’s best interests. Having a family member or loved appointed to handle financial matters does not impact the dollar amount the veteran is receiving in any way.
A veteran who is 100 percent disabled or receiving TDIU is entitled to receive all of their health care from VA at no charge. Health care services, including prescription medications, are provided with no co-pays at this level of disability.
A former servicemember who has been approved for TDIU would receive a copy of a rating decision in the mail, which formally awards disability benefits. That rating decision would explain the effective date of the award, meaning what date the TDIU was assigned, as well as the dollar amount the veteran will receive. Veterans may appeal the effective date assigned, and since VA often assigns an incorrect effective date, it is a good idea to have an attorney review the decision for accuracy.
The rating decision will also indicate the total amount of back pay or retroactive pay that the former servicemember will receive along with paperwork explaining the necessary appeal rights. The only thing that the veteran would want to appeal at this point would be the effective date assigned for the TDIU, and the paperwork would explain how to do that.
Some veterans prefer to know what to expect when they are approved for TDIU disability compensation from VA. If you have questions about the process of receiving TDIU benefits, you should reach out to an attorney from our firm. We can answer all your questions and concerns about what to expect from the VA.