Arthritis can cause a decreased range of motion, as well as joint stiffness, inflammation, and pain. In some cases, Veterans with arthritis may be eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
Types of Arthritis
There are two main types of arthritis that affect Veterans: degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, happens when the cartilage between joints erodes over time. Degenerative arthritis is rated based on the range of motion in the affected joints, with Veterans receiving either a 10% or 20% rating.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of an immune system malfunction. Ratings for rheumatoid arthritis are based on the severity of impairment. At the low end, someone experiencing two or more incapacitating episodes per year is eligible for a 20% rating. At the high end, a Veteran with four or more severely incapacitating episodes per year or symptoms such as anemia, weight loss, and a general decline in overall health can be rated at 60%. A 100% rating is also possible, but this requires the Veteran to be totally incapacitated (bedridden).
Qualifying for TDIU With Arthritis
Schedular criteria for TDIU state that you need one service-connected disability with a rating of 60% or higher or multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of 70% or higher and one that is rated 40% or higher. A 60% rating for severe rheumatoid arthritis would qualify for TDIU if it were a Veteran's only disability, and a 40% rating would qualify if the Veteran had additional service-connected conditions that were less serious. Someone with degenerative arthritis would need to also have a more serious condition, as this disability is only rated at 10% or 20%.
Qualifying for extra-schedular TDIU may be an option for some Veterans who don't meet the schedular criteria. For example, a Veteran with degenerative arthritis that affects their ability to walk, bend, and lift may be a good candidate for TDIU if they have only held physically demanding jobs. Receiving extra-schedular TDIU requires a Veteran's case to be forwarded from the regional office and approved by the director of the Compensation and Pension Service.
Request a Consultation to Learn More About Your Eligibility for TDIU
If you think you qualify for TDIU benefits, the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is here to help. Contact our office today to request a consultation to discuss the next steps in your claim.