Does SSDI guarantee TDIU?

It is a common mistake to think that if you are approved for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance benefits) by SSA (Social Security Administration) you will automatically be eligible for TDIU (a total disability rating based on employability of the individual) through the VA.  If you can’t work, you can’t work, right?  Unfortunately for vets, that isn’t the case.

To be eligible for either TDIU or SSDI, a vet must generally (there are some slight exceptions) be unable to work due to physical and/or mental disabilities.  But, while VA and SSA have similar rules for deciding whether a person can work, there are also some important differences.  So, even if SSA says that you can’t work, VA may disagree.

Some key differences:

  • Medical conditions – VA only considers your service-connected disabilities for TDIU.  SSA considers all disabilities.
  • Past work – If your disabilities keep you from doing your past work, that is enough for TDIU.  For SSDI, if you can’t do your past work but you can do another job, you may not be eligible.
  • Age – VA cannot consider your age in a TDIU determination.  Your age is one of the most important factors in your SSDI claim.

Despite the differences, receiving SSDI may help you get TDIU.

VA’s rules say it must take SSA’s decisions into consideration if they are related to your service-connected disabilities, and you make VA aware of them.  Once you notify VA that SSA has records related to your TDIU claim, VA must attempt to get those records.  SSA’s records may include medical reports or opinions that are helpful in proving your TDIU claim.  Importantly, if an SSA judge does find that a service-connected condition alone prevents you from working, a VA judge who disagrees has to provide an explanation for the disagreement.

A word of caution, in some cases SSA’s records could damage your VA claim.  For example, if your SSA records include negative medical opinions VA has to consider those too.  Also, if SSA finds you can’t work mainly because you have a lot of disabilities that aren’t service connected, it may be harder to prove that your service-connected conditions alone keep you from working.  It is important to talk to your representative to develop the best strategy of dealing with these issues.

If you need assistance with a TDIU claim, we are here to help. Call Veterans Help Group at (855) 855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.

VA Benefits Explained

VA Benefits Explained

VA Benefits Explained Veterans disability benefits can provide much-needed financial support and...

More Articles

What Causes PTSD to be Triggered in Veterans?

In the past 15 years, the estimated number of veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD currently numbers more than 500,000. As many as 60,000 of these veterans are Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Estimates show more than 20% to 30% of veterans...

Federal Court Addresses PTSD Stressors

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirms that VA must apply a generous standard when evaluating the lay testimony of veterans suffering from PTSD concerning their combat experiences and PTSD stressors. Sanchez-Navarro v....

Permanent and Total VA Disability Ratings for PTSD

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within three months of the...

Depression And Your VA Claim

Depression can negatively affect every aspect of your life: how you feel, think, sleep, function, and interact with others. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Issues, about 14% of veterans suffer from depression. Depression is one of the most common...


"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.