The goal of the schedular rating system at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is to give a clear rating to your service-connected disability, which then informs the benefits you can receive. However, it is not a perfect system and there are times when the rating is unable to properly qualify you for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). The good news is, there is a fallback option. An extra-schedular TDIU disability lawyer can help you determine if you could benefit from this type of application and get the financial help you need.
Extra-schedular TDIU is an alternate method to grant 100% disability for Veterans who might not otherwise achieve that rating through the normal TDIU schedular process. There are many situations where a Veteran’s impairments are less than the schedular criteria, but could still make him or her eligible to apply for extra-schedular TDIU benefits.
One example is if a Veteran has a service-connected injury of 50% for a severe migraine, which is the maximum schedular rating. He or she may not be able to secure gainful and substantial employment due to that one service-connected disability, but they also do not meet the scheduled requirements for the TDIU. That could possibly make them eligible to apply for the extra-schedular TDIU.
If the Veteran is not able to sustain substantially gainful employment, and he or she does not meet the requirements for the schedular TDIU, that is when they could pursue extra-schedular TDIU. An applicant can use their employment history, educational or vocational training, and the functional impact of their service-connected disability to apply for benefits in this manner. All cases for extra-schedular TDIU are referred to the Director of Compensation Services for consideration.
If a person does not meet the requirements for extra-schedular TDIU, it will result in a denial. If the applicant believes the denial was unwarranted, he or she can work with a Veterans benefits appeals attorney to make a case for reconsideration.
Extra-schedular TDIU benefits are permanent, as long as the Veteran is unable to maintain secure and substantial gainful employment. Although there is no required end point, there is also no guarantee that the benefits will last the rest of his or her life, since a change in employment could potentially terminate the benefits.
If extra-schedular TDIU is terminated, a Veteran can reapply for the basic schedular TDIU if they are still eligible. In addition to the TDIU, a Veteran could also be eligible for special monthly compensation benefits.
If the extra-schedular TDIU is being considered for termination, the VA will send the Veterans a proposal to terminate and allow time for a response.
The most common mistake someone makes when applying for extra-schedular TDIU disability benefits is not obtaining the necessary evidence to support the request. A lawyer can thoroughly review the file, and obtain and submit necessary evidence or arguments in support of the extra-schedular TDIU. There are also instances where a lawyer can get an independent medical examination (IME) from a vocational rehabilitation specialist that could help with the claim.
Our highly experienced Veterans benefits attorneys can work with Veterans across the country to get the help they need. You might think you do not qualify for TDIU based on the rating system but there is a chance you could get those benefits anyway. For a free consultation, please reach out to an extra-schedular TDIU disability lawyer.