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.