The only constant in life is change. Military members are trained to be prepared for the unexpected, and to adapt to changing circumstances on a moment’s notice. But when you have returned to civilian life, you are hoping for more predictability, especially when it comes to disability payments and the ability (or inability) to work.
If a veteran meets the criteria to be rated at a 100% disability TDIU (total disability individual unemployability), is that a lifetime decision? Can that rating be revoked if the veteran gets a job?
This is an important concern for both the veteran struggling to deal with their disability and also wanting to work, if possible, and do whatever is necessary to support their family.
Here’s how it works. TDIU rating can be taken away, but only if the VA determines that the veteran is able to maintain sustained gainful employment. Just having a part-time, low income, job doesn’t meet that threshold. Under the old process every year a veteran was receiving TDIU they had to submit an Employment Questionnaire (21-4140). The form inquired whether the veteran was working and, if so, where, when, and how much income is being earned. Failure to provide these yearly updates would cause cancellation of TDIU. However, the VA has implemented a new process for employment verification as of February 2019. With the new process the VA uses a data wage match with the Social Security Administration to identify Veterans in receipt of TDIU who have also been working and paying into social security. They will then send out the VA form 21-4140 Employment Questionnaire, and due process letter that must be responded to. The earned wages do not automatically exclude the Veteran from TDIU eligibility because the VA must review all facts and circumstances prior to rendering a decision on the TDIU eligibility.
If you can work, keep in mind that you need to balance TDIU benefits only versus a job. Look at the dollar amount difference between the current benefit level and 100% and see if that would be more than how much the veteran could make at work.
Do you need assistance in appealing a veteran disability decision or seeking increased rating percentages? Contact Veterans Law Group, a law firm dedicated to helping veterans and their families, just like you. Fill out this questionnaire and submit to our office for evaluation. We will review your request for a consultation and contact you as soon as possible. Our consultations are free of charge.
How important are independent medical examination reports to TDIU claims?
The VA Disability Benefits System describes itself as non-adversarial, even claimant-friendly. While this may be the case in theory, in practicality, disabled veterans need to be proactive in protecting their interests and in advocating for their rights.
As a general rule, veterans should not rely upon the VA to protect their interests. This means that, instead of waiting for the VA to obtain valuable evidence, veterans should obtain this evidence on their own. It also means that veterans should always try to obtain a favorable medical report from their private physicians rather than rely upon the VA to obtain a medical report from one of its physicians.
One of the most important strategies for winning your claim at the VA is to be sure to obtain additional medical opinion evidence to support your claim. This is particularly true with respect to a TDIU request.
The VA has a battery of physicians at its disposal to evaluate a veteran’s physical and mental condition, but in the opinion of many who routinely review these reports, VA physicians tend to favor the government and not be supportive of a veteran’s claims.
A veteran needs an evaluation from someone who doesn’t have this divided loyalty, and may need a medical opinion that more carefully details matters needed for supporting the veterans claim. For example, a veteran might need a letter from his or her doctor providing an opinion on employability distinguishing between service-connected disability and a non-service-connected disability. Perhaps the veteran has a back injury (not service-connected) and also PTSD (service-connected). If the doctor concludes that the veteran is unemployable as a result of the PTSD issue, irrespective of any problems that could be caused by the back injury, that would be useful for the TDIU determination. Such careful determinations and supporting documentation are unlikely to emanate from a VA physician.
While the VA has unlimited resources to obtain negative medical evidence, most veterans, on the other hand, are barely lucky enough just to pay for basic living expenses, let alone pay for costly medical examination opinions. It is no wonder that many veterans end up losing their claims because of negative VA medical opinion evidence and think there is nothing left to do. That is why the Veterans Law Group can be of great assistance to veterans.
In most claims, VLG will obtain independent medical examination reports for its clients to combat the VA’s arsenal of VA doctors. VLG has achieved remarkable success with private medical opinions largely due to the quality of these medical reports. VLG ensures the quality of these examination reports by following a careful procedure: namely, identifying the appropriate medical specialist to evaluate the veteran’s disability, sending a complete, but easily understood, written outline of the veteran’s case for the physician’s review, and securing and forwarding to the physician all relevant medical and non-medical information. VLG pays for these opinions not the veteran.
Contact Veterans Law Group now and get on a level playing field in seeking your disabled veteran benefits. Fill out this questionnaire and submit to our office for evaluation. We will review your request for a consultation and contact you as soon as possible. Our consultations are free of charge.