Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits provide medical care and monetary compensation at a level that is the same as a 100% schedular rating for Veterans who are unable to work due to service-connected disabilities. The process of determining eligibility for TDIU is somewhat subjective, however, since factors that make one Veteran unemployable wouldn't necessarily prevent another from working.
Factors Used to Consider Eligibility for TDIU Benefits
The two general criteria used to determine eligibility for TDIU benefits are your earnings and your disability rating.
- Earnings. TDIU requires you to be unable to hold substantially gainful employment. Earning a wage that exceeds the federal poverty level for a single person—about $12,000 per year—generally qualifies as substantially gainful employment unless you are working in a position that provides special accommodations for your service-connected disabilities.
- Disability rating. A single service-connected disability must be rated 70% or higher. If you have multiple service-connected disabilities, they must have a combined rating of 70% or higher with one service-connected disability that is rated 40% or higher.
Other factors that can affect your claim include:
- Education. The VA will look at your post-secondary education and professional certifications to determine if there is work you could perform despite your service-connected disability.
- Skills. This includes professional skills acquired through on-the-job training, as well as relevant skills taught in a classroom.
- Existing employment accommodations. If you currently work in a job with a flexible schedule or other accommodations made due to your disability, the VA must look at if you would be able to continue working in a similar position without these benefits.
- Past work experience. The VA will look at your previous work history to see if you've held primarily manual labor jobs or sedentary jobs, as well as evaluating how successful you were in each position.
- Frequency of hospitalization. If you have a condition that requires you to be hospitalized often, this inability to attend work regularly must be considered by the VA.
- Expected progression of your disability. If you suffer from a disability that is expected to place increasing limitations on your health, how these limitations affect your ability to work will be considered as part of your TDIU application.
- Social Security disability records. If you have also applied for SSDI benefits, the VA is required to consider the records prepared by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as part of your TDIU application. However, SSDI and TDIU each have different rules for determining benefit eligibility.
You are encouraged to submit as much evidence as possible to support your application for benefits. Your Compensation & Pension (C&P) examination, medical records, work history, performance evaluations, and lay statements from people familiar with your condition can all help determine if you qualify for TDIU.
Factors That Cannot Be Considered to Determine Eligibility for TDIU Benefits
Even though they may have real effects on your day-to-day life and ability to find suitable employment, the following factors cannot legally be used to determine eligibility for TDIU benefits.
- Age. Although age is used in determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, your age is irrelevant for the purpose of your TDIU application.
- Non-service connected disabilities. While you may have other disabilities that limit your ability to earn a living, only service-connected disabilities can be considered when determining eligibility for TDIU.
- Other sources of income. Investments, assets, and spousal income are not considered when determining if you are eligible for TDIU. Only your income earned from employment is relevant.
We Can Help You Access the Benefits You Deserve
When you have bravely fought for your country, you shouldn't have to struggle to get the benefits you need to provide for yourself and your family. If you believe your application for TDIU benefits has been unfairly denied, you should contact an experienced Veteran's disability attorney as soon as possible. An attorney who focuses on VA benefits understands how to protect your rights throughout the application and appeals process. Call the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.