It’s FAQ Friday! This week we’re answering questions about Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU.

Q: WHAT IS TDIU?

A: TDIU (also known as IU or Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability) is a VA disability benefit available to veterans whose service-connected disabilities render them unable to work.  IU compensates veterans at the 100% disability rating amount, even if their total combined disability rating is less than 100%.

Q: WHAT IS THE BENEFIT AMOUNT OF TDIU?

A: TDIU provides compensation to veterans at the 100% disability rating amount.  Currently, this amount is $2,915.55 per month for a single veteran.  Additional money is added for a spouse and any dependent children. 

Q: WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR TDIU?

A: VA’s regulations indicate that a  veteran should have a single, service-connected disability rated at least 60%.  If a veteran has more than one service-connected disability, at least one of those disabilities must have an evaluation of at least 40% and the total combined rating of all the disabilities must be at least 70%.  If these percetange requirements are met and the veteran is unable to maintain substantially gainful employment because of service-connected disabilities, then the veteran may be entitled to TDIU.  A veteran may be entitled to IU even if the above percentage requirements are not satisfied, but this is assessed by VA on a case-by-case basis.

Q: AM I STILL ELIGIBLE FOR TDIU EVEN IF I’M CURRENTLY WORKING?

If you are currently working but earn below the federal poverty threshold, then VA may consider that to be “marginal” employment.  What does marginal employment mean?  In VA world, marginal employment means that your employment is not substantially gainful, and thus you may be entitled to TDIU.

If you are currently working in a protected work environment, such as a family business or at a job that allows certain accommodations, and your earnings are above the federal poverty threshold, you may still be entitled to IU.  VA does not consider a protected work environment to be substantially gainful employment.

Q: HOW DO I APPLY FOR TDIU?

A: The first step is completing the VA Form 21-8940.  This is VA’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.  It is also helpful to obtain a medical report from your doctor stating that your service-connected disability(s) prevents you from maintaining substantially gainful employment.

TDIU Benefits Under Fire

In May 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a budget for Fiscal Year 2018. If the VA’s proposed budget passes without any changes, it would eliminate TDIU benefits for almost all veterans once they reach the minimum retirement age for Social Security purposes.  These veterans would then only receive compensation at the amount corresponding to their total combined schedular rating.