Do I Need to File a “Claim” for Individual Unemployability (TDIU)?
Published April 29, 2019
Now that you or your spouse have completed your active military duty and returned to the civilian world, you may feel like you have merely exchanged one set of stresses for another, including navigating the VA’s application process for any disability benefits to which you might be entitled. You might have heard about TDIU – total disability individual unemployability – but can’t figure out how to file a claim. Let’s clarify what TDIU is and how you can be considered for it.
A claim is the request for service-connected benefits. For example, “I believe I am suffering from PTSD as a result of my service.” A claim may also be a request for an increased rating on a disability, for example, “I believe my PTSD has gotten worse.” The effective date will be the date you filed the claim, and it is kept open for one year or with an appeal.
TDIU, on the other hand, is a theory to obtain a total disability rating for the underlying claim (i.e., PTSD). TDIU is not a claim in and of itself; it is a theory or means of arguing entitlement to a 100% disability rating. As such, the effective date is floating, tracking along with the underlying claim.
Because TDIU is a theory, not a claim, a veteran need not explicitly request entitlement to TDIU to raise this theory, whereas, for a claim, a veteran must explicitly request entitlement to benefits. If there is evidence, such as a medical record or report, indicating that the veteran cannot work as a result of their service-connect disabil(ities), that is sufficient to raise the TDIU issue, and the VA is required to consider that issue on the underlying claim(s).
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