Most Veterans think of disability benefits as providing compensation for conditions that are permanent in nature. While this is generally true, temporary Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are available in certain circumstances.
Temporary TDIU for Prestablization
When a Veteran has been discharged from service due to a disabling injury, they can receive temporary TDIU if substantially gainful employment is not feasible or advisable. To be eligible, the Veteran must still be seeking treatment for their condition and the disability must be expected to continue for an unknown length of time.
A rating for temporary TDIU based on prestabilization continues for one year after discharge from service. At this point, your disability will be reevaluated, and you’ll be assigned a new rating based on your current level of impairment.
Temporary TDIU for an Extended Hospital Stay
You may be eligible for temporary TDIU benefits for hospitalization if you have spent more than 21 days in a VA hospital or other approved facility receiving treatment for a service-connected disability or you were under hospital observation for more than 21 days at the VA’s expense for a service-connected disability. For example, imagine a Veteran who has service-connected diabetes goes into a diabetic coma because their blood sugar levels were poorly controlled. During their time in the hospital, they can receive a 100% rating. After they are discharged, their rating returns to its normal level.
If you believe you qualify for temporary TDIU due to an extended hospital stay and you weren’t in a VA hospital, you will need to provide a hospital discharge summary with your application. The summary should show the length and cause of your hospital stay.
If you are approved for temporary TDIU based on extended hospitalization, benefits are effective on the day your hospitalization began. Benefits end on the last day of the month when you left the hospital. If you are hospitalized for more than six months, your case will be considered for a 100% schedular rating.
Temporary TDIU for Surgery or Immobilization
Temporary TDIU for surgery or immobilization is sometimes referred to as a convalescence rating. Convalescence is defined by the VA as “the stage of recovery following an attack of disease, a surgical operation, or an injury.”
Veterans who require surgery that results in immobilization or an extended recovery time can receive temporary TDIU benefits when their treatment is for a previously service-connected condition. For a surgery to be eligible, it must require a recovery time of at least one month and result in severe issues that limit your mobility. This may include:
- Surgical wounds with extended healing time
- A stump from a recent amputation
- Being immobilized due to splints or casts to help with healing
- Requiring a wheelchair or crutches
- Being unable to leave your home due to your condition
If you didn’t have surgery, you can receive temporary TDIU if you have one or more major joints immobilized by a cast.
Temporary TDIU ratings resulting from surgery or immobilization can be awarded for one to three months, depending on a Veteran’s specific condition and prognosis. In the most severe cases, a rating extension of up to three months might be awarded.
An example of when TDIU might be awarded for convalescence would be if a Veteran had a service-connected knee disability. If their doctor recommended surgery to prevent further damage, the Veteran would qualify for TDIU to cover the time it would take for the surgery to be deemed successful. Once the Veteran was healed, they would be reevaluated to determine a new disability rating.
If You’re Unable to Work Due to Your Service-Connected Condition, We Can Help
VA disability law is quite complex, and claims for temporary TDIU are often denied due to misinterpretation of federal guidelines or incomplete documentation of a Veteran’s condition. If you are seeking TDIU benefits, we can help. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, or fill out the contact form on this page to request a free, no-obligation initial consultation.