What is Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU)?
Who is eligible for TDIU?
What can TDIU mean for an unemployed veteran?
Can a veteran work and get TDIU?
Is TDUI permanent?
Under what conditions is TDIU revoked?
Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) may be awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to service-connected veterans so long as they have a single disability rated at 60% or multiple disabilities rated at 70%, with one among those rated at 40% or more. Eligible veterans must be unable to secure and/or maintain gainful employment as result of their service connected disabilities. If TDIU is awarded, the veteran will be compensated at a rate of 100%.
Determining which veterans are and which are not eligible for TDIU is a very subjective decision. TDIU is normally granted based on the results of a VA Compensation and Pension Examination; however, VA examiners do not offer opinions regarding their impression of the veteran’s employability, they only indicate what functional impairments result from the veteran’s disability. The rating specialist must then determine whether those impairments are sufficient to render the veteran unemployable. The rating specialist is not allowed to consider the veteran’s age, the state of the economy, or non-service connected disabilities when making this decision.
The award of TDIU generally requires evidence of unemployment due to the disability in question (such as an employment history or employer records) and medical evidence that the veteran’s service-connected disability renders them totally disabled and unemployable (such as a treating doctor’s medical opinion).
TDIU can be an extremely important benefit for a disabled veteran. If a 65 year old veteran is awarded TDIU, the lifetime added value of the TDIU benefit translates in real terms from $133,447 for a veteran with a 90% rating to $212,004 for a veteran with only a 60% rating. Put simply, a veteran with a 90% rating will receive $1,604 each month while a veteran rated at 100% through TDIU will receive $2,673 per month. That is an extra $1,069 a month!
The fact that a veteran works does not automatically prohibit them from receiving TDIU. If the veteran’s salary is considerably lower than the prevailing poverty level or they are working in a position where they are protected from the requirements that someone else in that position would be expected to meet (such as working for a friend or relative), VA will not classify the veteran as being gainfully employed. A position with a salary below the poverty level is referred to as “marginal” employment and a position where the veteran is protected from normal work requirements is called “sheltered” employment. Marginal and sheltered employment are exempt from the unemployment requirement for TDIU.
TDIU is not necessarily a permanent benefit. VA may occasionally require the veteran to sit for a Compensation and Pension Examination to determine whether or not they are still unable to work due to a service-connected disability.
A veteran’s failure to report for a Compensation and Pension Examination could potentially result in a revocation of TDIU. Similarly, if VA comes to find out that the veteran is working in a position that is neither marginal nor sheltered while they are receiving TDIU benefits, their TDIU could be revoked and they might be liable to VA for TDIU benefits paid following their employment start date.
As a rule of thumb, veterans should exercise caution even if working as in a volunteer capacity. If VA comes to the conclusion that the character and degree of volunteer work that the veteran performs demonstrates that they are not unemployable, TDIU might be revoked. When VA revokes a TDIU, the amount of disability compensation the veteran receives drops down to the level of their actual rating under the rating schedule.
If you or someone you care about has had their PTSD, MST, TBI, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or depression disability claim has been denied or underrated by VA, call Dr. Bruce toll-free at 1-866-436-2407 or write us using our contact form for a FREE consultation. The Law office of Jonathan Bruce represents clients before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. You should contact Dr. Bruce as soon as possible to ensure you give yourself enough space for a timely appeal. All information will be held in the strictest confidence and all messages will be answered within 24 hours. Dr. Bruce habla con fluidez español.