“Disability” is not just a medical issue. Frequently, the d-word has educational, vocational, legal, and other implications, as well. Because disabilities are subjective, the VA’s disability rating system is not always appropriate. In these cases, the Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) VA benefits system might be more appropriate.
So, even if you are not rated at 100% disabled, full disability benefits might be available. However, the VA does not eagerly hand out these benefits. Overall benefits are decreasing and the number of claimants is increasing. Therefore, if disabled veterans want a fair-sized piece of a shrinking financial pie, they should partner with an experienced VA disability attorney. Otherwise, they might settle their claims for less than they deserve.
Who is Eligible for TDIU Benefits?
Let’s look at the second half of this acronym first. Veterans are individually unemployable if they cannot hold substantial jobs in unsheltered environments. Substantial means income above the poverty line. Unsheltered means a place where the owner or manager does not give the veteran any special treatment.
So, employed disabled veterans might be eligible for TDIU benefits. The total disability component is:
- One condition with a 60% disability rating, or
- Multiple conditions with an aggregate 70% rating (at least one condition must have a 40% rating).
If veterans do not meet the disability qualifications, extra-schedular TDIU benefits might be available. Veterans must show that their condition is unusual or exceptional.
What is the TDIU Effective Date?
Since the claims process could take months or more, the VA almost always awards retroactive benefits. In most cases, the effective date for benefits is the date the veteran originally claimed them.
TDIU cases are different. The VA awards retro-dated benefits to the time the disabled veteran became unemployable as long as the underlying issue causing the unemployability remains open or on appeal. That date could be many years or decades before the filing date. Most veterans try to “tough it out” before they apply for benefits.
Many Claims Examiners ignore this process and use the date the TDIU application ( Form 21-8940) is filed. This often leads to the retroactive date being wrong.
What is the Connection Between SSDI and TDIU?
The Social Security Administration runs the SSDI program, and the Veterans Administration runs the TDIU program. These agencies have different disability rules. They also use different systems, such as different doctors, to determine an applicant’s disability. So, it is rather common for the SSA to deny benefits and the VA to pay them, or vice versa, even though the underlying condition is the same.
A prior SSDI award could strengthen or weaken your TDIU claim. The SSA’s conclusion obviously means the applicant has a disability, but that disability might or might not be service-related.
Are TDIU Benefits Permanent?
Sometimes. It largely depends on the award form. The Claims Examiner might check the P/T (Permanent or Temporary) box and leave a note. Or, the award might say something like “no further examinations scheduled.” The VA can still reduce permanent TDIU benefits if the veteran is able to sustain unsheltered, substantial employment for at least twelve months. On the flip side, temporary benefits become permanent if the veteran is over 70 or the VA has awarded temporary benefits for at least twenty consecutive years.
Contact an Aggressive Attorney
Partially disabled veterans might be entitled to full benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced VA disability lawyer in San Diego, contact the Veterans Law Group. We represent veterans on a nationwide basis.