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Do I Qualify for TDIU if I Can’t Maintain Employment?

You may qualify for TDIU if you cannot maintain employment; however, there are other criteria to consider as well. We discuss the requirements you must meet to qualify for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) below.

What Criteria Must I Meet for TDIU?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability benefits to veterans who suffer from disabling injuries or illnesses due to their military service. The disability benefits are intended to compensate veterans for any loss of income they experience due to the severity of their service-connected conditions.

The amount of disability compensation received is determined by your VA disability rating. A disability rating of 100 percent results in the highest schedular benefit amount. But getting a 100 percent rating is difficult and conditions that are not rated at 100 percent can still impact a veteran’s ability to obtain and maintain substantially gainful employment. VA acknowledges this and offers another route to receiving compensation at the 100 percent rate, even if your service-connected disabilities do not combine to 100 percent: TDIU.

To receive TDIU, you must prove to VA that your disability renders you unable to secure and maintain “substantially gainful employment.”

To be eligible for TDIU benefits, you must show that you have a service-connected disability (a disabling condition that arose due to a specific event in your military service) that renders you unable to work.

You also must satisfy TDIU’s disability rating requirements. That involves meeting one of the following two criteria:

  • You have a single service-connected disability with a rating of 60 percent or higher; or
  • You have multiple service-connected disabilities with one rated at least 40 percent disabling and a combined rating of 70 percent or higher.

Consider the following: you suffer from service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suffer residual effects from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) you sustained during a combat mission. Your service-connected conditions make it impossible for you to work. If you received a 50-percent rating for your PTSD and a 40-percent rating for your TBI, you would be eligible for TDIU because a 50 percent rating and a 40 percent rating combine to a 70 percent rating, and one of your conditions is assigned at least a 40 percent rating.  Therefore, you would meet the percentage requirement for TDIU eligibility.

If you do not meet these rating requirements, you may still be eligible on an extraschedular basis. (Learn more about extraschedular TDIU here.)

Can I Qualify If I Can Keep a Job?

There are some situations in which you may remain eligible for TDIU while maintaining employment.

Marginal Earnings

If you are able to work but your annual earnings do not exceed that of the national poverty threshold, you may still be eligible for TDIU.

Working in a “Protected Environment”

While VA does not have a definition of “protected work environment,” 38 CFR 4.16(a) provides a family business or a sheltered workshop as examples of a “protected work environment.”  If your employer allows you certain accommodations without which you would not be able to work, you may be eligible for TDIU.

Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for Help With Your VA Disability or TDIU Claim — Free Case Evaluation

The veterans law team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD focuses on VA disability law and prides ourselves on helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our team members, call our office at 800-544-9144.

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