What Do Disability Percentage Ratings Mean in Connection with TDIU?
Published January 4, 2019
Getting injured while serving your country usually happens quickly, but recovery and adjustment to any resulting disability is slow and painful at best. Trying to navigate the procedures for obtaining disability pay afterward may seem like one final hill too many. Maybe we can simplify things a bit.
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is a theory for getting a 100% disability rating if certain conditions are met. The first of those conditions is a specified percentage of disability rating, a percentage that can either be met directly with one service-connected disability with a 60% or more disability rating, or a combination of disability ratings that equal 70% or more. The math is a little complicated because sometimes you can add up lower percentage disability ratings into a single, higher rating for purposes of TDIU analysis. Here’s how the math works.
The law identifies five scenarios where multiple disabilities will be considered as one disability for TDIU purposes, either for one 60% disability or one 40% disability.
1 – Where there are multiple disabilities of one or both upper or lower extremities, they will be combined into a single disability rating. An example of this would be a left leg rated at 40% disability and left knee rated at 30% disability. These two disabilities should be combined for a single disability rating of 70% for purposes of TDIU.
2 – Where there are disabilities resulting from common etiology (common cause) or a single accident. For example, if a veteran has diabetes mellitus rated at 20% and peripheral neuropathy of left and right lower extremities associated with diabetes rated at 20% each, and all three disabilities have a common etiology of agent orange exposure, they must be combined into a single disability of 60% for purposes of TDIU evaluation.
3 – Where the disabilities affect a single body system, e.g., orthopedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular-renal, neuropsychiatric. For example, nonunion of right tibia rated at 40% disability and right ankle ankylosis rated at 20% disability should be combined into a single disability of 60% for TDIU purposes.
4 – Where there are multiple injuries in action. Although the regulation does not define the term “action,” it likely means combat or combat-related action. For example, residuals of shell fragment wound to the right buttock for muscle injury rated at 20% disability, residuals of shell fragment wound to the left buttock rated at 20%, and residuals shell fragment gunshot wound of the left auxiliary area at 20% disability, must be combined into a single disability of 60 percent disability, for TDIU purposes.
5 – Where there are multiple disabilities incurred as a result of being a prisoner of war. Under this final provision, all service-connected disabilities at either 60% or 40% in combination meet the first requirement for TDIU.
Do you think you might be eligible for TDIU? Let Veterans Law Group help you wade through the process of figuring out if you are. VLG works extensively with veterans and their families, providing legal assistance in navigating the VA disability benefits process and helping you obtain the maximum benefits you may be entitled to receive.
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