Veterans who apply for benefits for one or more service-connected disabling condition will receive a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This rating, usually a percentage ranging from zero to 100, determines the severity of the condition as well as whether and how much a veteran will be compensated.

Former servicemembers must meet a certain rating before they can qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. Specifically, you must have either a 70% combined rating with one disability rated at 40%, or one single disability rated at 60%.

However, these ratings alone won’t qualify you for TDIU if you are still able to work a full-time job. To be awarded TDIU benefits, a veteran must be unable to obtain and maintain substantially gainful employment because of a service-related impairment. Once these criteria are satisfied, a veteran may be compensated at the 100% disability rate.

Physical vs Mental Health Conditions in TDIU Claims

The VA recognizes that mental impairments resulting from active-duty military service can be just as debilitating as physical conditions. This means that mentally and physically disabled veterans alike can apply and qualify for TDIU benefits if they are unable to maintain gainful employment as the result of conditions in the military or an event that took place during active-duty service.

Former servicemembers who are unable to work full-time due to both physical and mental impairments may be able to qualify for TDIU benefits based on a combined rating of at least 70%. As previously mentioned, at least one of the disabilities you are claiming for must have a rating of 40% to qualify you for total disability based on your individual unemployability.

For example, a veteran who was severely injured during their active-duty service may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The physical consequences of the injury, as well as the mental health effects, would be considered service-connected and may very well make it impossible for a veteran to maintain gainful employment.

How is Gainful Employment Defined in TDIU Cases?

The VA defines substantially gainful employment as any job through which non-disabled individuals earn their livelihood, with earnings comparable to particular occupations in the community where the veteran resides. The VA may allege that a disabled veteran is able to perform sedentary work, such as in an office setting. It may take the work of a skilled lawyer to prove that you are unable to perform any full-time work as a result of your service-connected conditions.

Otherwise, if you are currently employed, you can still qualify for TDIU benefits if your income falls below the poverty threshold, or if you work in a protected work environment. In any case, it is best to have an attorney review your claim to ensure its effectiveness in proving your qualifications for TDIU.

Ask a Lawyer about Qualifying for TDIU Benefits

For more details on what it takes to qualify for TDIU benefits, speak with a member of our team today. We are experienced in helping former servicemembers prove their entitlement to TDIU benefits and can help you too. Don’t submit a claim without letting one of our team members review its likelihood for success. Call today to learn more.

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