In many cases, eligibility for VA benefits is completely objective. Applicants must have the proper service background along with a current disability, and there must be a nexus (direct or indirect connection) between these two things. Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability, however, is a bit different. As the name implies, this area is more subjective. Benefits depend not on a rating scale but, at least in part, on the individual circumstances of each applicant. The subjective nature of TDIU benefits makes it easier to qualify for these benefits, but it is a double-edged sword. The subjective nature also makes these claims more difficult to establish, especially at initial reviews. A good TDIU lawyer knows what evidence to present. Additionally, an experienced attorney knows how to present this evidence in the most compelling way possible.
Qualifying for TDIU VA Benefits
VA disability ratings are not completely irrelevant in TDIU matters. In fact, the rating scale still plays a significant role. Generally, veterans might qualify for TDIU benefits under the following circumstances:
—A single service-connected disability with a 60% rating, or
—A combination of service-connected disabilities with at least a 70% rating; at least one disability must have a 40% rating.
There are limited circumstances where a veteran can’t meet the above qualifications but can still be eligible for TDIU. Rather surprisingly, unemployment is not a qualification for TDIU VA benefits. Applicants can be working and still receive them. The U.S. Code is quite clear that only substantial, gainful employment in an unsheltered environment derails these applications.
Substantial employment means the worker’s wages must be above the poverty line. That is difficult as a single person and nearly impossible as a person with dependents.
In terms of unsheltered employment, a family-owned or veteran-owned business is an example of a sheltered work environment. Workers in these environments often get additional time off for bad days. Additionally, supervisors often look the other way if the veteran comes in late or leaves early. These accommodations are unavailable in unsheltered environments.
Cash benefits in most TDIU cases could be up to $3,400 a month. Higher benefits are available if the veteran has dependents. Additionally, VA benefits include substantial noncash compensation, such as medical care, prescription drug coverage, and PX privileges.
Establishing a TDIU Claim
For determining TDIU medical evidence is obviously essential to show the severity of the limitations due to service-connected disabilities. However, the VA claims processor is the one that determines if a veteran is unemployable given all the evidence of record.
Additional evidence could also be important to the unemployability prong, especially if the veteran is working at the time. Supervisors can testify or submit in writing about the time off the veteran requires due to bad days, doctors’ appointments, or other issues. Friends and family members can testify or submit in writing about how the disability affects the veteran’s daily life. Such evidence is especially important in PTSD and other mental or emotional disability situations. These veterans often do not understand just how bad their disability is.
Team Up with an Aggressive TDIU Lawyer
TDIU benefits could significantly affect your monthly budget for the better, but it is not easy to obtain these benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced VA disability lawyer, contact the Veterans Law Group.