If you receive or are interested in filing a claim for veteran’s disability compensation, you may have heard the term “individual unemployability.” What exactly does that mean, and how do you know if you’re eligible?

If you have a service-connected condition that prevents you from securing or maintaining any kind of employment, you may qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). That means you might qualify to receive disability compensation at the same level as a veteran who has a 100% disability rating.

How do You Qualify for TDIU?

In order to receive total disability based on IU, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • You have at least one service-connected disability that is rated at 60% or more, or two service-connected disabilities with at least one rated at 40% or more for a combined total of 70% or more.
  • You are unable to maintain a steady job that supports you financially — that is, you can’t hold down substantially gainful employment — due to your disability.

How do You Determine whether Your Disabilities Prevent You from Working?

To determine the severity of your disabilities and whether you qualify for TDIU, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will look at medical records and other evidence. A trained attorney can take you through the process of gathering that information and ensuring all relevant evidence that is likely to support your case is collected and presented. A legal representative can also file an appeal should your application be denied.

How to Apply

To apply for TDIU, you will need to file a claim with the VA. As mentioned above, this entails gathering medical records and other evidence to support your claim to prove that you are eligible to receive compensation. There is also additional paperwork that you will need to fill out, as the VA requires specific forms for individual unemployability claims.

As with all VA disability claims, you will need to demonstrate that your service-connected disability impacts your ability to work. And in the case of TDIU, you will need to also show that it makes you unable to hold down any kind of substantially gainful work.

Working while Receiving TDIU

While it may seem like you wouldn’t be able to work at all if you’re receiving TDIU, that is not always the case. To receive benefits for individual unemployability, you simply need to demonstrate that you can’t maintain substantially gainful work — that is, work that significantly supports your financial needs.

However, there is also what’s called marginal work — jobs that don’t provide enough income to live on but that can be helpful supplements to your disability compensation. If your income doesn’t exceed the poverty line as established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, then your job is typically considered marginal work. And recipients of TDIU are often allowed to maintain this type of job.

Ask an Attorney about Individual Unemployability Claims

For more information on filing an individual unemployability claim, please feel free to give us a call anytime. One of our representatives will be happy to answer your questions. Or if you’d prefer to contact us online, please fill out this form.


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