Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits provide cash compensation at the 100% level for Veterans who are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to a service-connected disability. If your service-connected disability is a mental illness that affects your ability to manage your money, you may be appointed a fiduciary to handle your benefits.
How the Fiduciary Process Works
During your Compensation & Pension exam, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your condition and the examiner will review your file. Simply having a mental illness or attempting to receive TDIU benefits will not automatically result in the need for a fiduciary. However, if your illness makes it difficult for you to remember to pay bills, causes you to impulsively spend money on unnecessary purchases, or makes you more susceptible to financial scams, the VA could appoint a fiduciary as a precautionary measure.
A fiduciary is a person who oversees the financial management of your VA benefits. You can request a relative or close friend to serve as a fiduciary, but any person you choose must submit character references, undergo a criminal background check, complete a personal interview, and have a review of their credit report before they are approved. If you have no one in your life who can handle this responsibility, the VA will appoint a professional fiduciary.
Being determined to be in need of a fiduciary for your VA benefits does not affect your right to manage any other income or assets that you might have. If you are appointed a fiduciary, however, it is possible that this would limit your ability to own firearms because the appointment triggers a reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI.
If you do not believe you require a fiduciary, you have the right to appeal the decision by submitting new medical evidence to the Regional Office. If the issue isn’t resolved at this level, you can appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) or the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Do You Need Help With Your Application for TDIU Benefits?
If you believe you may qualify for TDIU benefits but have concerns about the effects of being appointed a fiduciary due to mental illness, our experienced Veterans benefits lawyers can help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.