Proving Unemployability: Key Factors in Your TDIU VA Claim
– Donnel Beckles, Managing VA Advocate, Veterans Help Group
Donnel Beckles is a top Veterans Advocate and a member of the National Organization for Veterans Advocates. Donnel is accredited to represent VA disability claimants. He has put his wealth of knowledge and expertise in VA disability law to work for thousands of disabled veterans and their survivors.
Donnel knows how important accurate information is in pursuing VA disability benefits, so he’s sharing some key information about TDIU claims.
What is TDIU?
TDIU means total disability due to individual unemployability. The TDIU designation matters because a veteran who is deemed individually unemployable may be eligible for veterans disability benefits at the 100% level, although their disability rating is lower. This means not only higher monthly benefits but also access to benefits for dependents that are not available at a lower disability rating.
Criteria for a TDIU Finding
To be found individually unemployable due to a service-connected condition or conditions, a veteran must generally show that:
- You have either a disability rating of 60% or higher for a single service-connected condition, or a combined rating of at least 70% with a rating of at least 40% for a single condition, and
- That you are unable to engage in substantially gainful employment
While the first condition is clear-cut, the VA defines the latter in terms like “unable to hold down a regular job.” So, it’s very important to provide thorough documentation of your inability to work and how those limitations are related to your service-connected condition(s).
In addition, a veteran who doesn’t meet the numerical requirement above may still receive an extra-schedular TDIU determination.
Keep in mind that meeting the rating requirements is not sufficient. You must also show that you are unable to earn a living. Be aware, though, that you should not be denied because you are doing sporadic or part-time work–the test is whether you can engage in substantial gainful activity, not whether you can work at all.
Whether you are applying for schedular or extra-schedular TDIU, the VA will consider the same criteria in determining whether you cannot work to support yourself. In making this determination, they will consider the limitations you face due to a service-connected condition, including frequent hospitalizations or other necessary care that would interfere with work. They will also look at variables such as your age, level of education, and work experience.
This is similar to the analysis made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in determining whether an applicant is disabled and entitled to SSDI. However, having been approved for SSDI benefits does not necessarily mean that you will qualify for TDIU, because the SSA takes into account all medical conditions, not just those that are service-connected.
Give Yourself the Benefit of a Seasoned VA Disability Benefits Advocate
Many variables go into determining whether a disabled veteran qualifies for a TDIU award, and there are some gray areas in the determination process. Give yourself the best chance at approval by working with an advocate who knows what type of evidence the VA is looking for and how best to present it. You can schedule a consultation with an experienced advocate at the Veterans Help Group right now. Just call 855-855-8992 or click here to fill out our contact form.
For over a decade, Donnel Beckles has been a leading voice for those seeking disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 2016, he has led the Veterans Help Group, one of the most successful VA disability advocacy organizations in the United States. He has helped veterans and their dependents secure tens of millions of dollars in benefits.
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