Apply For TDIU: The Basics
The Veterans Affairs (VA) offers Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits to veterans who are unable to work due to a service-connected disability. Veterans receive the same compensation rate as someone with 100% disability. However, the veteran does not actually need to be 100% disabled. Learn how to apply for TDIU today.
The 90% Rating Plateau
It is very difficult to move from a 90% rating to a 100% rating. As a result, the pay scale reflects this. In addition, we frequently see veterans “stuck” at a 90% rating. The VA rounds all ratings. As a result, the VA awards a 90% rating to a veteran with an 85% rating. The VA upgrades the the veteran to a 100% rating as soon as they hit a 95% or higher rating. This is very difficult.
The VA math is not typical math. As a result, the VA only evaluates the left over portion for assigning disability ratings. For example, the VA rated a veteran at 85% (which rounds to 90%). An additional rating of 10% is only worth 1.5% (10% of the 15% that is left). As a result, the veterans new rating would be 86.5%. This would still round to 90%. If you qualify, apply for TDIU and move from 90% pay to 100% pay level. The net income increase is substantial when moving to a 100% level.
I’m Stuck! Do I Qualify For TDIU?
To qualify for TDIU benefits, veterans must show that they are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to their service-connected disabilities. The VA awards TDIU based on medical evidence, statements from the veteran and witnesses, or a combination of all these sources.
Typically, veterans must have at least one disability rated at 60% or higher. However, the VA also accepts two or more disabilities with a combined rating of 70% or higher. In addition, the VA requires that at least one of the disabilities be 40% or higher if using the 70% rule.
However, the VA does allow for “extra schedular” TDIU ratings. Essentially, the VA ignores the above rules if they need to. As a result, it is worth applying even if you do not exactly meet the requirements.
Should I Apply For TDIU? (That’s The Wrong Question)
We do not encourage veterans to apply for TDIU as a first choice. TDIU has a major negative aspect. TDIU heavily restricts your income. Veterans on TDIU are only permitted to earn up to the federal poverty level. As a result, single veterans are currently only permitted to earn $13,590 per year. That number adjusts with each dependent, but veterans on TDIU are forfeiting their ability to earn an income.
However, TDIU is a great option for veterans who are not able to maintain employment. Typically, we see a veteran with severe PTSD and multiple physical disabilities as a great candidate for TDIU. PTSD can make it impossible to maintain steady employment. In addition, it is very difficult to receive an overall 100% rating through just PTSD. As a result, TDIU is a great option.
I’m Rated at 100% – Should I Apply For TDIU?
NO! We receive this question in our inbox and comments on a regular basis. A 100% rating is superior to a TDIU rating. Do not apply for TDIU if you are rated at 100%! The 100% rating does not prevent you from working. The TDIU rating is only for veterans who can not work, but also can not make it to 100%.
In addition, the TDIU rating and 100% rating both pay exactly the same. As a result, you would be working toward a rating that would not help you. However, too many veterans believe that being unemployable and on TDIU pays more than 100%. It does not.
In addition, applying for TDIU would reopen your VA claim. This means the VA will investigate all your claims. That is a major risk for not benefit.
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