Over 90% of veterans who are compensated at the 100% VA disability benefit level receive extra compensation through the Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU) program. Only 228,364 veterans out of the 2,636,979 veterans being compensated at the 100% level were awarded 100% compensation without Individual Unemployability, according to this study.
Obviously, this is an excellent program for those who qualify! In addition to increased compensation, you’ll also receive commissary privileges, dental care, education benefits for your dependents and more! You may even qualify for a property tax deduction and permanent vehicle registration!
To qualify for IU, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a veteran
- You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to your service-connected disabilities. “Substantially gainful” is defined as earning more than the federal poverty level for one person.
- You must have at least one service connected disability rated at 60% OR you must have a combined rating of 70% or more with at least one disability rated at 40% or higher. Some veterans who do not this third criteria may still be awarded IU under exceptional circumstances.
You’ll need to file a claim for Individual Unemployability in order to receive this benefit. During the claims process, you’ll need to demonstrate that your service-connected disability (or disabilities) are sufficient to prevent you from performing the mental and physical tasks required to get or maintain substantially gainful employment. You must also prove that this impairment is due exclusively to your service-connected disabilities and cannot be attributed to other causes.
You may be wondering, “Can you still work with 100% VA disability?” The answer is, somewhat. If you receive a 100% disability rating naturally, you absolutely can. When you receive a 100% disability rating through a TDIU claim, you will not be able to earn more than the federal poverty level for an individual without jeopardizing your TDIU benefits.
Here are four tips to winning your TDIU claim.
1. Prove you are both physically and mentally impaired because of your service-connected disabilities.
Ratings examiners will often pick apart the claim. It is not enough to demonstrate that the veteran cannot perform physical labor. You must also prove that they cannot complete sedentary work.
One way to do this is by writing a clear statement describing the effect of the veteran’s medication. For example, a veteran with several physical disabilities that prevent him from doing physical labor should describe the effects that his prescribed painkillers have on his mental state. Because the medication is part of his treatment, the effect of his medication will be considered.
2. Include as many statements in support of claim as you possibly can.
You absolutely should NOT file a claim for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability without a statement from the veteran, the veteran’s spouse and anyone else who may be able to make a helpful statement. College professors, former employers and friends can all assist with statements. Some people may refuse to submit a statement for you but you should always ask! It can make all the difference in your claim.
3. Try Vocational Rehabilitation or your GI Bill Benefits.
When we applied for TDIU, we were able to include a statement from the Vocational Rehabilitation program stating that David wasn’t suitable for employment. We were also able to submit the list of accommodations his college had made in order to help him be successful in class.
These statements were golden features in our claim. Of course, you can submit statements from anyone to boost your claim… but if you can get something stating you are unemployable or stating your existing accommodations at work or school, that’s even better.
4. Apply for the Post-9/11 Caregiver Program or Aid & Attendance, if you’re eligible.
These programs are not connected. You won’t automatically be approved for either just because you were approved for one. However, winning one could help your application with the other!
Post-9/11 veterans are too disabled to work and you need care, the Post-9/11 Caregiver Program is a miracle. In addition a generous monthly stipend, your caregiver will also receive medical benefits and other benefits. Since this is a completely separate program, applications are processed much faster than typical compensation claims.
Clearly, someone who needs a caregiver cannot be expected to maintain gainful employment… so getting approved for these programs can dramatically improve your chances of being awarded TDIU.
Ready? Make your TDIU claim now!
Now, you just need to know how to file for VA unemployability! It’s simple. Log into eBenefits and begin your application! You will need specific information regarding your employment, such as the contact information for your last several employers and your employment dates.