Total Disability Individual Unemployability (What You Need To Know)

TDIU VA Disability

The Department of Veterans Affairs administers veterans’ benefits in the form of monthly payments to eligible veterans and their dependents.

If you are a veteran and unable to work due to your service-connected disability, you may be eligible for TDIU benefits. 

What is TDIU?

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability compensation program.

The VA will pay certain veterans compensation at a rate of 100 percent even though their service-connected disabilities rating is lower.

Who is eligible for TDIU?

  • You must be a veteran
  • You must have either:
    • One disability that is rated at 60 percent or more OR
    • Multiple disabilities, with one disability rated at 40 percent or higher, and a total rating of 70 percent or more
  • You must be unable to hold a job as a result of your service-connected disabilities. 

The inability to hold a job means that you are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment. 

The VA defines “substantially gainful” to mean employment in which the veteran is earning above the poverty level.  In 2019, a person who made less than $12,490 was considered to be earning below the poverty level. 

Working in a protected work environment (in which your employer makes special and substantial accommodations for you without reducing your earnings or benefits), even if you earn above the poverty level, is not considered “substantially gainful employment.” 

If you work odd jobs, the VA considers this “marginal employment” and it does not affect your eligibility for TDIU benefits.

If you have ratings that are lower than the above requirements, you may still qualify for TDIU benefits. 

Sometimes there are cases that are exceptions to the VA’s rating method. 

These are “extra-schedular” cases and will require evidence that shows applying the normal requirements are unreasonable.  This evidence may include major interference with employment and frequent hospitalizations. 

How to get TDIU from the VA?

In order to receive TDIU benefits, you must submit VA Form 21-8940, “Veterans Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.” This form is available online, and can be submitted through the VA Benefits portal.

You may also choose to work with an accredited representative or agent, go to a VA regional office for assistance, or print it at home and mail or fax your completed TDIU benefits form.

How long does a VA TDIU claim take?

After you submit your application for TDIU benefits, it can take the VA between 4 to 10 months to make an initial decision. 

If you are denied TDIU benefits, you will need to begin the appeals process. 

You have one year from the date on the Rating Decision to begin your appeal. 

The appeals process can take years, so it is important to be thorough when completing your application.

How much will I get with TDIU benefits?

TDIU benefits are paid at the same rate as a 100% disability rating. 

In 2020, this was equal to $3,106.04 per month for a single veteran. If you are awarded TDIU benefits and are married and/or have children, this amount may increase.

How long do TDIU benefits last?

TDIU benefits are not automatically permanent, but they can be. 

If your Rating Decision has a box checked indicating that your 100% disability is permanent, includes language like “Eligibility to Dependents Chapter 35 DEA/CHAMPVA are established,” or says “no future exams required,” then your TDIU benefits are permanent. 

Even if your TDIU benefits are not initially permanent, they may become permanent in the future. The VA also reserves the right to reduce or terminate your TDIU benefits in the future if certain facts apply. 

If the VA finds that your condition has improved to the point where you are able to be substantially gainfully employed, or you have maintained substantial gainful employment for a period of twelve consecutive months, the VA may terminate or reduce your TDIU benefits. 

Contact VanDerGinst Law

A veterans disability attorney from VanDerGinst Law can help you if you have been denied benefits.

We can assist you in building your case and filing your appeal.

There is a time limit on filing your appeal, so contact us right away.

We would be honored to help.

Call us at 800-797-5391 for your free consultation or to discuss your case.

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