Many Veterans rated at less than 100 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cannot work due to their service-connected disabilities. This can be frustrating because, while the Veteran believes they should be assigned a total disability rating, VA does not always believe that their symptoms qualify for a 100 percent rating.
In situations like this, 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 unemployability or Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
In short, VA grants the TDIU benefit to the Veteran once VA has determined the Veteran can’t work due to service-connected disabilities. The criteria for qualifying for TDIU is supposed to be based on the Veteran’s individual circumstances, including their work history, skills, training, and education. Keep in mind that TDIU is not a benefit for Veterans who are temporarily out of work.
According to VA regulations, to qualify for TDIU, a Veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment and have one of the following VA ratings:
Even if a Veteran qualifies under one of the two above criteria, TDIU can still be difficult to obtain, especially if a VA doctor fails to fully describe the Veteran’s level of disability. Understanding VA’s complex rules for TDIU and then submitting all the paperwork can be a challenge for Veterans. At Bergmann & Moore, we work to win our Veteran client’s service connection, and we also ensure the proper ratings are established, including entitlement to TDIU.
The following examples show the significant monetary difference between a 70% rating and a 100% rating, based on VA disability compensation rates effective December 1, 2021.
Example One: Single Veteran, no dependents: 70 percent combined rating, paid at the 70 percent rate = $1,529.95 per month, or $18,359.28 per year, tax-free.
Example Two: Single Veteran, no dependents: 70 percent rating on PTSD, VA granted TDIU, and paid at 100 percent rate = $3,332.06 per month, or $39,984.72 per year, tax-free.
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.
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.