The Department of Veterans Affairs created a disability compensation program for veterans who stopped working because of a service connected disability.  

The benefit is based on a disability rating of 100%, and only veterans with at least a 60% scheduler rating qualify for TDIU

Keep reading to find out what qualifies for TDIU, how to apply, and what to do in the case of denial. 

Who can qualify for an Individual Unemployability Benefit

Any Veteran unable to continue "substantially gainful" employment due to a service connected condition can apply for some type of individual unemployability benefit

A job is defined as a "substantially gainful" occupation if its wages exceed the national poverty threshold.

 In some situations, veterans may qualify for Individual Unemployability even if their job pays above the poverty threshold. 

Any service-related physical or mental impairment can qualify for individual unemployability, and the qualification can be scheduler or extra-schedular TDIU.  

The scheduler and extra scheduler requirements to qualify for individual unemployability include the following:

  • The veteran's Disability is service-connected and rated to at least 60% disabling; OR
  • The veteran has multiple service-related Disabilities, and one condition is rated at least 40%, and the overall rating of both conditions is at least 70%.  

The extra-schedular TDIU is for veterans with conditions that prevent them from working but do not meet the required percentage threshold. These cases are common among older veterans with severe health conditions like back pain. 

What if my requirement does not meet the schedular Individual Unemployability? 

Veterans who don't meet the scheduler requirements for individual unemployability may still be eligible for extraschedular TDIU as long as they can prove that the previous review from the schedular TDIU does not match the limitation experienced from their condition. 

Is TDIU permanent

TDIU can be permanent but not automatic. Permanent TDIU benefits are usually indicated in the veteran's total disability rating decisions. A total and permanent disability requirement is valid when:

VA checks the "permanent and Total" box on the form. 

The form indicates "no further schedule of exams."

The approval letter state that the veteran qualifies for CHAMPVA or CHAPTER 35 benefits. 

In addition, temporary TDIU benefits can also become permanent. This is common among veterans above 70 years old or those who have received TDIU benefits consecutively for at least 20 years. 

What is the Financial Amount of Individual Unemployability

Individual unemployability benefits are paid based on a 100% disability rating equivalent of $3,332.06 monthly for a veteran in 2021. 

Veterans may also receive monthly VA disability compensation that serves dependent children or spouses. 

Do I Qualify for Individual Unemployability if I'm Currently Working? 

Individual unemployability benefits are designed for veterans with service-related disabilities and unable to obtain and maintain gainful employment

Two situations determine whether the veteran may maintain substantially gainful employment and still be eligible for individual unemployability benefits

Marginal employment: A veteran who currently works but earns below the poverty threshold may be eligible for individual unemployability benefits

Protected work environment: When an employer makes a special accommodation to enable the veteran to work without pay or benefit reduction, it's a protected work environment. 

Veterans working under a protected work environment may qualify for individual unemployability benefits—check for yourself where you fall in terms of eligibility here.

How Do I Apply for VA Individual Unemployability Benefits

To apply for Total Disability individual unemployability benefits, veterans must complete a VA disability claim and submit the form to the VA. Veterans can submit online, by email, fax, or in person at a local VA office or through the help of a VA-accredited representative. 

What is the Evidence Required to Prove Entitlement to Individual Unemployability

To prove entitlement to individual disability benefits, veterans can provide vocational and medical evidence to the Social Security Administration such as medical records and service connection, social security determinations, lay evidence, vocational assessment, medical opinion, etc. 

What conditions can make VA reduce or cancel active unemployability benefits? 

VA can decide to reduce or cancel unemployability benefits for several reasons, such as: 

  • If you don't submit the VA form 21-4140 every year. Please submit this form to avoid the reduction or termination of benefits. 
  • If you're able to maintain gainful employment and get back to work.
  • If there's an improvement in your service connected condition, resulting in a lower TDIU rating

Does VA Consider Age When Determining Individual Unemployability Eligibility? 

No, VA does not consider age as a criterion for TDIU benefits eligibility. Therefore, the criteria remain the same even if the applicant retired long ago.  

Can I collect Individual Unemployability and Social Security Disability Benefits Simultaneously? 

Yes, veterans can simultaneously qualify for TDUI and SSDI benefits without offsets. 

Remember that each program comes with unique requirements, and what qualifies for disability for one doesn't automatically guarantee acceptance for the other. 

What if VA denies my unemployability benefits application? 

If VA disability denies the claim for service-related disability, the decision can be appealed. Veterans must appeal the denied claim within one year. To appeal, it's best to use the help of an expert VA individual unemployability attorney. This help is the key to ensuring a successful TDIU application

Top tips for winning a TDIU claim 

Submit the VA Form 21-8940 form on time 

The DRO or rating claim officer will automatically deny a claim of a file without the TDIU form. While this doesn't seem right, it's the reality of how most VA regional offices approach TDIU claims. These forms are usually sent out as part of a VCAA letter. However, it is also downloadable from the VA's website. Overall, It's important to know how to file for disability benefits. 

Provide past employment information by asking your last employer to fill out the VA Form 21-4192.

If you cannot reach out to your last employer or there's none, clearly state this in the form with a supporting statement for the claim

 Get a doctor's statement about how service-connected disabilities stopped you from working. 

Do this now. Use the help of multiple doctors. Ask a general doctor and a specialist. For instance, if you have hearing loss, contact an audiologist to write a short statement regarding your condition. 

How Trajector can help 

At Trajector, our goal is to help veterans pursue the benefits they're entitled to. 

If you filed a TDIU claim and were denied, we can help. Following the denial, we can help file a notice of Disagreement (NOD) or a Higher Level Review (HLR) request. 

Remember that these are time sensitive, and you must file the HLR or NOD request within one year of denial; else, the decision becomes final. 

At Trajector, we can choose the right appeal type for your condition, review the VA's denial, and submit every necessary detail on your behalf. 

We understand what it means to you to win your TDIU claim, and we're happy to help-contact us now to get started.