Ask any Veteran who has pursued a VA Disability claim and they’ll tell you that getting approved is quite difficult. Most claims take years to get approved and require a lot of patience and evidence. Just getting approved at 10% total can be a tall task, while getting to 100% can seem next to impossible at times. But, what if there was another way? What if you didn’t have to get approved at 100% to get paid at the 100% level? It may seem too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s called Individual Unemployability, and we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about this benefit.
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According to the VA, IU allows VA to pay certain Veterans at the 100% disability rate even though their service-connected disabilities are not rated as 100% disabling. Veterans may be eligible for this rating increase if they are either unemployed or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of their service-connected disability (or disabilities).
Simply put, it all comes down to the math—VA math to be precise. When you were in school you likely learned that 10 +10 = 20. In most instances, that is correct. But it’s not necessarily true at the VA, which uses a rating scale. To learn more about VA math, just check out this blog post. Using the rating scale, a claim rated at 50% and another rated at 30% may not equal 80%. As you add more ratings, it actually becomes harder to get to 100%. In fact, in order to get rated at 100% via scheduler, you have to be rated between 190% and 240% total. As you can imagine, that can be very hard to achieve.
So, how does a Veteran qualify for IU? Most importantly, you can’t work. The VA offers IU as an alternative to gainful employment. So, if you’re working full time and still able to perform your job, you won’t qualify for Individual Unemployability. However, that’s not the only qualifying factor. This next part can be confusing, so please read it carefully: you must be rated at 60% on one condition, or be rated at least 70% from multiple conditions as long as one of those conditions is at least 40%. Let’s use some examples to clarify how one qualifies for IU.
A Veteran who is connected at 70% for his or her PTSD who can’t work because of their disability would qualify for Individual Unemployability because their rating for PTSD is at least 60%.
A Veteran who is service-connected at 70% total with their PTSD at 50%, their back at 30%, and 10% for tinnitus would qualify for IU because they have a combined rating above 70%, and one of those ratings is listed above 40%.
A Veteran who is service-connected at 40% total, with 30% for PTSD, 10% for tinnitus, 10% for hearing loss, and 0% for a back condition, would not qualify for IU. There are two reasons for this. First, he or she is not rated at least 60% one condition. Second, he or she is not rated at 70% total for multiple claims with one being at least 40%.
Don’t forget about Social Security. Our law firm focuses on both VA Disability and Social Security Disability. That’s really fortunate for our clients because the two share some similarities. One crucial point to keep in mind is that a Veteran who is approved for Individual Unemployability should seriously consider filing for Social Security as well. If you can’t work because of your disabilities originating from the Military, then you’ll likely be approved for Social Security Disability, too. In many cases, a Veteran can receive both VA Disability and Social Security Disability at the same time. Further, some Veterans can receive VA Disability, Social Security Disability, and Military Retirement.
If you aren’t available to talk right now but would still like assistance, fill out the contact form on this page and our team can call you at a more convenient time.Toll-Free (844) 267-6586