Veterans Disability and Individual Unemployability

“Individual Unemployability,” also called Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), is part of the VA’s disability compensation program. If you’re unable to work because of a service-connected disability, you may qualify to receive IU benefits.

The Law Offices of Michael Hartup explains how Individual Unemployability works below. If you need assistance applying for Individual Unemployability in Tennessee or want help appealing a denied Veteran Disability claim, call Michael Hartup at (731) 424-5559.

How do disability ratings affect Individual Unemployability?

The VA assigns a disability rating based on the severity of your condition in order to determine how much compensation to pay you. Your rating is expressed in a percentage from 0 to 100 percent in 10 percent increments.

 A rating closer to zero means that your disability exists and affects your day-to-day ability to function, but its impact is not as severe as a rating closer to 100 percent.

When you qualify for Individual Unemployability, you can receive disability compensation at the 100 percent rate, even if the VA has not rated your disability at that level. You may be able to receive disability benefits at the same level as a veteran who has a 100 percent disability rating.

Who is eligible for Individual Unemployability?

To be considered for Individual Unemployability in any state, the following must be true.

  • You must be a veteran.
  • You’re unable to hold a steady job, or substantially gainful employment, as a result of your disability. Marginal employment, or “odd jobs,” do not count.
  • You have either:
    • one service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or more, OR
    • you have multiple disabilities, with one disability rated at 40 percent or higher, AND a total rating of 70 percent or more.

How do I apply for Individual Unemployability?

The VA assigns all disability ratings by looking at medical reports, test results, the results of a VA claim if required, and other sources of information. If your disability begins to worsen over time, you may apply for a rating increase to receive higher compensation.

The process for qualifying for Individual Unemployability is similar. You must apply for Individual Unemployability, and the VA will then review your claim and evidence.

You can apply filling out the Veterans Application for Increased Compensation Based on Employability (VA Form 21-8940) and mailing or faxing it to the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can also apply online or in person at a VA regional office.

When you apply, you’ll need to provide information about your disability, medical treatment and care, income, work history, and education. The VA will consider if your service-connected disability prevents you from working a steady job, and if so, will increase your compensation to the 100 percent rating.

What type of benefits might I receive from TDIU?

As of December 2019, the veterans disability compensation rate for 100 percent disability ratings ranges from $3,221.85 to $3,499.81 per month. The payment amount varies if you have children, a spouse, or parents dependent on your compensation.

In many cases, an Individual Unemployability status is not automatically permanent; the VA requires veterans to fill out an annual Employment Questionnaire (VA Form 21-4140) to continue benefits. The annual form checks to see if your condition has improved, warranting a lower rating, or if you’re able to return to work.

The VA can grant permanent Individual Unemployability benefits on a case-by-case basis. You’ll know your benefits are permanent if your Rating Decision states that “no future exams are scheduled,” or if a box checked indicates that your 100 percent disability is permanent.

What can I do if my Individual Unemployability application is denied?

If your application for Individual Unemployability is denied, you have one year to file an appeal and ask the VA to reconsider. To start the appeals process, you’ll file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). On the NOD, you’ll choose whether you’d like your appeal to be reviewed directly by a veterans law judge, or through a Board hearing.

After review, either the judge or the Board will make a decision. If you don’t agree with the new decision, you can further appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. A VA-accredited attorney is required in this step.

TDIU in Tennessee: Our VA disability attorney can help

Most of the process for applying for Individual Unemployability can be done without requiring a disability attorney. However, applications and appeals, as well as providing the proper evidence for an application, can be confusing and time-consuming.

An experienced veterans disability attorney can guide you through the process and help you gather the proper evidence to support your claim.

If you’d like to apply for Individual Unemployability in Tennessee, or if you need to appeal a denied claim, call the Law Offices of Michael Hartup at (731) 424-5559. We can help you navigate the application and appeals process every step of the way.

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