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Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability Infographic

This infographic explains TDIU and breaks down the two ways in which veterans are deemed eligible to receive the disability compensation associated with this benefit.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers eligible veterans a benefit called Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU.  Veterans may qualify for “Individual Unemployability” if they are unable to work because of their service-related conditions or disabilities.  Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability allows veterans to receive disability compensation at the 100 percent schedular rating level, even if their combined disability rating is less than 100 percent if they are unable to find or maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of their service-connected disabilities.

A “substantially gainful” occupation is a job that pays above the poverty threshold. Under some circumstances, veterans may qualify even if they are working a job that pays above this income threshold.  In short, TDIU is a way for veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from working, but who do not have a combined disability rating of 100 percent, to be compensated at the 100 percent level.

There are two ways in which veterans can demonstrate their eligibility for TDIU: schedular and extra-schedular.  The criteria a veteran must meet to qualify for schedular TDIU is outlined in 38 CFR § 4.16(a), while the requirements for extra-schedular TDIU are explained in 38 CFR § 4.16(b).

In order to receive TDIU on a schedular basis, a veteran must show that they have: one service-connected disability rated at 60 percent disabling or higher; or more than one service-connected disability, with one condition rated at least 40 percent and a combined rating of 70 percent or higher.

If a veteran does not meet these requirements, they may still be eligible for extra-schedular TDIU.  If a veteran is seeking extra-schedular TDIU, their claim must be evaluated by the Director of Compensation Service, as opposed to a standard VA claims adjudicator.  The Director will review the claim and determine whether the veteran’s inability to work due to their service-connected disabilities merits entitlement to TDIU.