For what seems like forever, you’ve just been waiting. Waiting for the VA rating decision that makes you eligible for total disability based on individual unemployability (“TDIU”) on a scheduler basis. Or perhaps you’ve been waiting for the decision on your TDIU claim itself. You check your mailbox, quickly discarding the unwanted credit card offers and numerous store advertisements and scanning for that envelope with “Department of Veterans Affairs” printed on the upper left-hand corner. The decision finally arrives. You anticipate reading the word “GRANTED” at the end of the enclosed document, but when you tear open the envelope and flip through the packet inside all you find is “DENIED.”
As disappointment and frustration mounts, you begin to wonder whether appealing is even worth it. I mean, what are the odds that it will be different this time around? You aren’t exactly sure what to do next anyway. Make no mistake, appealing an unfavorable decision is a tedious and frustrating process that will test your resolve, but let me be clear – NEVER GIVE UP.
Like many veterans, one of our North Carolina clients felt like giving up after the VA denied his claims for over a decade. Unable to continue a career in maintenance due to a service-connected finger and forearm injury, he found himself unable to work in the only field he had ever known. His rating percentage was low even after the VA granted his finger and forearm claims, and the VA denied his TDIU claim because it determined that his injuries did not prevent him from engaging in other forms of employment. Inadequately compensated and unable to work in the only field in which he had experience, he came to our office for help.
Our office got right to work on his behalf, reviewing his medical records and hiring a vocational expert to write a report detailing what jobs, based upon our client’s work experience and functional limitations, he would be able to perform. Following a detailed review of his records and utilizing the vocational report as fuel to our fire, we argued before the VA that his limited formal education and inability to utilize his maintenance work experience precluded gainful employment. Despite a low disability rating of 40% overall, our office won an extra-scheduler unemployability rating for our client, and he is now paid at the 100% rate due to not working.
If you’re considering throwing in the towel, don’t. Seek counsel. Obtain the benefits to which you are entitled.