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The Veterans Law Group focuses on representing disabled veterans who are unable to work due to one or more service-connected disabilities.


TDUI Eligibility

A veteran is entitled to be paid at the 100% disability rating if he can establish that his service-connected disability[ies] preclude him from maintaining gainful employment.

In VA law, such claims frequently go by the abbreviation “TDIU,” referring to a Total Disability rating based upon Individual Unemployability.

It is a common misunderstanding that a veteran can only qualify for a TDIU rating if he meets or exceeds a certain percentage disability requirement: namely, a single service-connected disability rating of 60%, or a combined service-connected disability rating of 70%. The VA is mostly responsible for this misunderstanding.

The truth is that a veteran can qualify for a TDIU rating any time one or more of his service-connected disability[ies] prevents him from obtaining employment, regardless of the percentage of the disability rating.



Benefit Amount for TDIU

A disabled veteran can receive over $3,000 a month from the VA in TDIU benefits. Additional money is awarded if a veteran is married or has dependent children or parents.


Am I still eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) if I’m currently working?

If you are currently working but don’t earn more than the federal poverty threshold, then the VA may consider that to be “marginal” employment.

Marginal employment means that your employment is not substantially gainful. Therefore you may be entitled to TDIU if you qualify.

If you are currently working in a protected work environment, for example, a family business, or at a job that allows specific accommodations, and your earnings are above the federal poverty threshold, you may still be entitled to TDIU benefits, because the VA does not consider a protected work environment to be substantially gainful employment.


What Does Substantially Gainful Mean?

The VA uses this term “substantially gainful” to mean employment for which the veteran is earning above the poverty level. The poverty guidelines for 2018 indicate that a person making less than $12,140 a year is earning below the poverty level.

VA regulations indicate that sheltered employment (e.g., self-employment, working for a family business or in a position from which you cannot be fired) does not count as substantially gainful employment.


Securing and Maintaining a job

These terms clarify that a veteran is entitled to TDIU if his service-connected disabilities prevent him from getting a job and/or prevent him from keeping a job.

Some physical disabilities such as back or knee problems might be easily noticed by an interviewer and might prevent a veteran from getting a job. Other disabilities, such as PTSD, might not be evident in an interview but hinder a veterans ability to keep a job as time goes on.


Sedentary Work

Veterans are often denied TDIU claims because the VA believes that the veteran is capable of so-called “sedentary work.” But the VA is often wrong. For one thing, the VA cannot simply speculate that a disabled veteran is physically capable of performing sedentary work without some medical evidence to justify this conclusion.

In addition, “sedentary work” has a particular legal meaning. Both the Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration define sedentary work as follows:

Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a).

Through its rulings, the Social Security Administration has further refined this definition to mean employment generally requiring six hours of sitting in a typical eight-hour workday:


In some disability claims, the medical facts lead to an assessment of [residual functional capacity] which is compatible with the performance of either sedentary or light work except that the person must alternate periods of sitting and standing. The individual may be able to sit for a time, but must then get up and stand or walk for a while before returning to sitting. Such an individual is not functionally capable of doing either the prolonged sitting contemplated in the definition of sedentary work (and for the relatively few light jobs which are performed primarily in a seated position) or the prolonged standing or walking contemplated for most light work. (Persons who can adjust to any need to vary sitting and standing by doing so at breaks, lunch periods, etc., would still be able to perform a defined range of work.).


Therefore, if a veteran’s disability[ies] precludes him from sitting for prolonged periods, then he is not capable of engaging in sedentary employment.



Consult an Experienced TDIU Attorney

Unfortunately, the VA does not always make it easy for veterans to receive the compensation they deserve. Working with an experienced veterans law attorney will help you ensure that you are utilizing every tool that is available to you.

An experienced Veterans Disability Law attorney will be able to help:



Social Security Disability Awards

Typically, disabled veterans are awarded Social Security Disability benefits before receiving their entitled VA unemployability benefits.

Social Security Disability benefits can be used to strengthen Total Disability Individual Unemployability claims, especially if the social security award covers the same disability[ies] involved in the TDIU claim.


Contact Us For Help With Your TDIU Claim

If you have applied for Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits, but the VA refuses to acknowledge your claim we urge you to contact us for a free consultation.

The Veterans Law Group has been helping veterans and their families obtain the compensation they deserve for over two decades. We only focus on VA disability cases, so you can have peace of mind in knowing we’re always up to date on the law and the everyday practice of the VA.

RAMP: An Option for Veterans

RAMP: What is it and it is right for me?

The Department of Veterans Affairs is notorious for its red tape. Some injured veterans hoping for disability benefits spend months building a thorough application only to find their claim denied or underrated. In order to appeal the decision, veterans need to bring their claim to either a local Decision Review Officer or to the Board of Veterans Appeals. Unfortunately, either option can result in months and even years of waiting for a response. During this time, many struggle to earn a living and put food on the table for their families. (more…)

Veteran Personality Disorder

Veteran Diagnosed With Personality Disorder


Military service demands certain sacrifices, but few realize just how demanding active duty can be on a person’s mental state. While much is made about post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not recognize personality disorders as a disability that can be compensated by the VA. Viewed instead as genetic or developmental disorders, personality disorders can make it difficult for veterans to get the benefits they need. However, if you have been diagnosed with a personality disorder, you may still be eligible for benefits for disabilities connected to your disorder. (more…)

Disability Benefits for Spine Conditions

Most people experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. Unfortunately, spinal injuries are all too common for veterans. Military lifestyle, deployment and training often lead to spine conditions that can last a lifetime. These conditions can be debilitating, seriously threatening to your ability to hold down a job or partake in hobbies you once enjoyed. (more…)

Disability Benefits for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Invisible injuries can be just as serious and life-altering as more obvious ailments. Unfortunately for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries, it can be difficult to prove to others just how much of an impact the injury has had on their daily life. Thankfully, if you have sustained a brain injury during your military service, you may be entitled to benefits. Recovering such benefits, however, can be difficult. Keep reading to understand more about military TBI, how they are rated and how you can go about seeking the compensation you deserve. (more…)

VA Disability Claim

If you are a veteran who is struggling with a disability that stems from your time in the military, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits. Though the initial filing can be fairly straightforward, the resulting procedures can be slow and require near-constant oversight. Should a claim be denied or underrated, the resulting appeals process can require even more attention. Given how labor-intensive the process of obtaining disability compensation can be, you may want to consider seeking help from someone with skills and experience such as a Veteran Service Officer. (more…)

Power of Attorney and VA Disability Claims: How POA Could Save You Time and Frustration

As Americans, our legal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are considered inalienable. When our lives become complicated by our careers, families and health problems, however, those deeply personal rights need protecting. Power of attorney is a useful legal tool often used in cases where a person needs the legal aid of a representative. This tool is often used in situations where a person is incapacitated and can no longer make responsible decisions for themselves.


TDIU Benefit Reductions

There is perhaps no greater sense of relief than the one felt by a veteran finally approved for VA unemployment (TDIU) benefits. Conversely, many feel a sense of anxiety and frustration when they discover their benefits could be reduced or taken away altogether. Though rare, benefit reductions can seriously change the way a veteran lives their life. The reality is that as disabilities improve, some wounds can heal and therefore benefits change. Veterans need to understand that unless the veteran is deemed permanently and totally disabled the VA can reexamine and reduce a person’s disability rating (and therefore their TDIU benefits) at any time.


Qualifying for TDIU Benefits

Military service requires certain sacrifices. Whether giving up time with loved ones or personal safety, all veterans have made sacrifices for their country. When the results of those sacrifices jeopardize a veteran’s ability to work, however, it can be difficult to pay the bills and put food on the table. That’s why the Department of Veterans Affairs offers Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits for disabled veterans (38 C.F.R. § 4.16).


Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Military service requires trust in your colleagues like no other career. With lives on the line, it is no wonder veterans feel such a strong connection to their brothers in arms. When this trust is violated, the fallout can be incredibly traumatic. Dealing with sexual assault of any kind is difficult, but when victims must continue to work side by side their abuser, healing is virtually impossible. Even after they leave the service, the men and women who have suffered from Military Sexual Trauma, or MST, can struggle to cope.