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how-to-prove-to-the-va-that-you-are-eligible-for-tdiu

 

The VA processes huge volumes of paperwork on veteran disability claims and because of that, sometimes information gets overlooked and inappropriate denials of benefits made. You can assist the Decision Review Officer determining your TDIU claim for 100% disability, by assembling a solid package of evidence for the VA for both the medical/disability factor, and for the unemployability factor.

 

If a veteran has been terminated from their former employment for reasons related to service-connected disabilities, the VA MUST consider that in its decision. You can help them do that by providing as much of the following types of evidence as you can –

 

  1.   Obtain letters or affidavits from former boss and/or former co-workers establishing the service-related reason for the veteran’s termination. Job termination notices often don’t notate the reason for termination. In fact, some employers may purposely be scant on details with an intention of protecting a veteran from being labeled as a difficult employee. However, it is helpful for your TDIU claim to provide detailed evidence of how your disability affected your employment and this can be through sworn affidavits of a former boss or co-workers. They can provide details of the day-to-day challenges your disability posed in the work setting.

 

  1.  Obtain Social Security earnings record and disability file (if any). The earnings record will to show the veteran’s actual income over the years post-discharge from the military and show if it is below the poverty level. If Social Security disability benefits have been granted, the full underlying file can be useful evidence for the VA (though the VA will not just accept the SSA findings by themselves). This is a free document that you are able to get from the SSA their website or walking in.

 

  1.  Testimony at hearings by veteran and their spouse (if married). Being able to describe in heartfelt detail how their disability affects their ability to work is a key piece of evidence in establishing TDIU. The veteran can explain the day-to-day challenges of their disabilit(ies), how often flare-ups occur, what they need to do to mitigate symptoms, and similar information. When it comes to PTSD or other psychological issues, the veteran may need some assistance in learning how to tell their story, explaining things such as occurrences of angry outbursts with the boss or coworkers, level of intolerance, inability to sleep well which affects concentration, inability to accept instructions, and similar challenges. If the spouse also testifies, they can give testimony as to their observations, providing additional details of the situation, sometimes even things about which the veteran is not fully aware.

 

  1.  Vocational expert opinions.  Vocational experts can help people find jobs, determine what jobs the veteran can qualify for, and whether or not they would qualify to work in certain areas. Vocational experts are not always local, but with providing adequate summaries of information, a copy of the underlying medical and/or employment files, and having a phone interview with the veteran, they can provide an expert opinion on whether the veteran can work, in what areas, and with what restrictions, or whether they are, in fact, not able to maintain substantially gainful employment.

 

Veterans Law Group specializes in helping veterans and their families get all of the veteran disability claims benefits to which they are entitled and can assemble the necessary information for appealing a TDIU denial.

 

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.

what-is-a-protected-environment-job

As a military member, you do whatever task is assigned to you with a sense of duty. Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise that after discharge, veterans take on whatever job opportunities they may have with that same sense of duty. What they don’t know is that even if they have managed to find a job that allows them to work in spite of disabilities, particularly dealing with PTSD, they may still qualify for TDIU, total disability individual unemployability. They may qualify for TDIU because they are working in a “protected environment” job.

 

Civilian jobs for veterans come in many different forms and sometimes a veteran may be earning income above the poverty threshold, but still be eligible for TDIU (total disability individual unemployability). That is because the veteran is working in a “protected environment” job.

 

What is a protected environment job? Simply put, it is a job where the veteran is receiving special accommodations that are not normally found in the general labor market. A common example is when the veteran works at a family business or for a friend, where his or her employer is fully aware of the veteran’s disabilities and makes accommodations around them, that would not generally be available in the workplace.

 

In the case of psychological issues, for example, they may have a relaxed policy on absences when the vet is having “bad days” or suffering from anxiety attacks or continue to maintain employment despite frequent angry outbursts or other behavior inconsistent with what an ordinary employer would allow from his/her employees. Perhaps a back injury limits the amount of time the veteran can stand or sit without lying down to rest, and the employer allows an accommodation by allowing the veteran to work from home for these needs, or provides extra break times.

 

The bottom line on protected environment jobs is that the veteran cannot get a similar job on the open market place and thus, may well be considered unable to hold substantially gainful employment, and thus may be TDIU rated by the VA.

 

Are you working in a protective environment job and want to know whether you qualify for a TDIU determination? Veterans Law Group specializes in working with disabled veterans to obtain the maximum disability benefits to which they and their families are entitled. 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.

what-is-substantially-gainful-employment-for-purposes-of-tdiu

A common trait of veterans is that they work hard, push towards gaining their objectives, and never admit defeat. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that they overlook the severity of the challenges they are facing in maintaining gainful employment after discharge. Family members never want to disparage a veteran’s work efforts, but having one job after another and the bills start to pile up, it’s worth stepping back and evaluating whether difficulty in employment may be due to service-connected disabilities.

 

The inability to sustain substantially gainful employment is one of the eligibility requirements for getting a TDIU (total disability individual unemployability) finding.

 

Marginal employment is not be considered substantially gainful employment. What is “marginal employment”? There are two ways to determine whether a veteran’s employment is considered marginal, and not substantially gainful.

 

One way to evaluate employment is to look at annual income for several years. Marginal employment is deemed to exist when a veteran’s earned annual income is below the amount established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, as the poverty threshold. These thresholds are published every year. For 2017, the amounts were $12,752 for those under age 65, and $11,756 for those age 65 and over, and are higher for families with dependents. If you don’t know what your (or your spouse’s) annual income is, an Earnings Report can be requested from the Social Security Administration.

 

Keep in mind that other VA disability benefits, or Social Security disability benefits, you may be already receiving are not taxable income and thus are not included in the taxable earnings used to decide the poverty thresholds.

 

The other means of evaluating employment for this purpose is to look at the specifics of a veteran’s place of employment. Marginal employment may also be held to exist, on a fact found basis when earned annual income exceeds the poverty threshold, but the employment is in a protected environment, such as a family business or sheltered workshop, that makes work accommodations for the veteran that would not otherwise be available. Consideration is given in all claims to the nature of the employment and the reason for termination.

 

Do you think you or your veteran spouse may not have substantially gainful employment and may be eligible for TDIU benefits? Veterans Law Group has helped thousands of other veteran families just like yours and are happy to help.