Veterans often become frustrated when they can’t work, believe the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should rate their claim at 100 percent, but the veteran doesn’t get a 100 percent rating.
In situations like that, it is possible for the veteran to be paid by VA at the 100 percent rate, even though the veteran doesn’t have a 100 percent rating. This important VA benefit is called Individual Unemployability (IU) or Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
Don’t Let the Name Confuse You
In short, VA grants the IU benefit to the veteran after a doctor has determined the veteran can’t work. IU is not a benefit for veterans who are temporarily out of work.
Congress and VA created the IU benefit because of the number of veterans who can’t work due to one or more service-related disabilities. This benefit exists because VA’s claim process dating back to the 1940s is so clunky and obsolete VA did not anticipate veterans surviving multiple disabilities for decades.
Here’s how IU works. According to VA, in order to qualify for IU, a veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment and have one of the following VA ratings:
Threats to IU Benefits
In early 2017, VA threatened to eliminate IU benefits, and that could have dramatically impacted the lives of nearly 240,000 veterans receiving IU benefits.
However, within a month, VA quickly withdrew the proposal because of significant opposition by Veteran Service Organizations and Congress.
The bottom line for veterans is that IU benefits are safe from budget cuts.
IU Benefits Can be Difficult to Obtain
Even if a veteran qualifies, IU can still be difficult to get. At Bergmann & Moore, we work to win our clients service connection, and we also ensure the proper ratings are established, including entitlement to IU.
Understanding VA’s complex rules for IU and then submitting all of the paperwork can be a challenge for veterans, especially when there is a mental health condition involved, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or military sexual trauma (MST).
Free IU Claim Consultation
Bergmann & Moore has helped hundreds of veterans in IU claims and has had great success helping veterans get VA benefits.
Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to assisting veterans obtain benefits from VA. If you filed an IU claim that was denied by VA, or if you can’t work due to a service-connected disability, then Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of complex claim appeal. Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation.
How IU Works
IU Payment Example
Single Veteran, no dependents: 70% rating = $1,338.71 per month
Single Veteran, no dependents: Paid at 100% based on IU = $2,915.55 per month
That’s a difference of $1,576.84 per month, or nearly $19,000.00 per year
Agent Orange Exposure
One specific disease, Glioblastoma Multiforme, is a type of malignant brain tumor, often found in veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during service. However, VA has not yet acknowledged that these tumors are due to Agent Orange exposure and therefore they are not on VA’s presumptive list. Sadly, when a veteran passes away from a non-presumptive condition such as Glioblastoma, their surviving spouse is often unable to obtain benefits on their own.
Burn Pit Exposure
Bergmann & Moore recognizes that many veterans from the Gulf War era, Operating Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation New Dawn (OND), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) may have been exposed to hazardous materials that were burned as a form of waste management.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) provides Veterans with five options on what to do when you receive a Board denial. In our experience there is only ONE reasonable option—appeal the BVA decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals to Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Dependency and Indemnity Claims
In the event a veteran passes away, their surviving family members may be entitled to benefits from the VA. Most commonly, this would be the Veteran’s surviving spouse. In order to qualify for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must show that the Veteran died from a condition or illness related to the veteran’s military service. In some cases, veterans may have already been service connected for the condition that caused their death. In other cases, the surviving spouse is required to prove that the cause of death, if not already service-connected, was due to the veteran’s service.
Even veterans who aren’t rated 100-percent disabled may be eligible to be paid at the 100-percent monetary rate. VA awards individual unemployability, often referred to as total disability for individual unemployability (TDIU), when a veteran’s service connected conditions prohibit him or her from maintaining gainful employment. This benefit is separate from Social Security Disability Income.
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual assaults occur with both men and women and often go unreported. Many Veterans believe they do not qualify for Veterans’ benefits for military sexual trauma if they did not report the assault when it happened, but that is not true. There is no time limit for a Veteran to file a claim for a military sexual trauma, even if it is decades later.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also referred to as posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic stress syndrome, is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Even though the event has passed, many people continue to experience symptoms for months or even years afterward.
Once VA grants service connection for a disability, they then assign a rating based on the severity of the condition. The rating assigned correlates with a monetary amount to be paid monthly. In most cases, the veteran is compensated retroactively back to the effective date of the claim. This means that VA must pay the monthly amount for the disability for each month the claim was open, usually awarded in a lump sum, in addition to the monthly benefits going forward.
Veterans who were injured while in the military, or who aggravated those injuries while in the military, may be eligible for disability compensation. In some cases, compensation claims injuries are immediately obvious, such as when a service member is physically injured while on active duty. Other times, veterans don’t experience symptoms until many years after service, such as in the form of a mental health condition or cancer due to exposure of hazardous materials like Agent Orange, Burn Pits, or Asbestos.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
If a veteran sustains a head injury or full body injury during their military service, there may be longstanding effects known as residuals of a traumatic brain injury. Many veterans are unaware that they’ve even sustained a TBI because they didn’t lose consciousness during the event. Anything from a mild concussion to being thrown in an explosion may constitute a TBI.