How a 60% VA Rating Can Get You to 100%

VA math can be complicated and confusing.  Many veterans receive multiple ratings from VA for different service connected conditions.  But, their total VA rating adds up to much less than the sum of the individual ratings.

It seems like VA math almost always works against you.  But, there is one area where VA math can work in your favor – TDIU.

TDIU stands for individual unemployability or total disability based on individual unemployability.  The idea behind TDIU is that sometimes you are totally disabled from employment even if your VA rating does not add up to 100%.

Man holding his back in serious pain

Now, you probably cannot just go from a 10% VA rating to 100%.  But, if you have a VA of 60 or 70 percent, you may qualify for TDIU if you meet VA’s definition of unemployability.

In this article, I am going to focus on the requirements you may need to meet in order to qualify for TDIU.

What happens if I have a rating of 60% or higher for a single service connected condition?

One situation where VA allows you to use TDIU is when you have at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher.   This is one of the threshold criteria for TDIU benefits.

VA uses these criteria because a 60% rating for a single service connected disability is pretty high.  Veterans with this high a rating will often find it difficult to work.  So, VA allows veterans who meet this criteria to qualify for TDIU if they also meet VA’s definition of unemployability.

Do I automatically qualify for TDIU if I have a 60% VA rating for at least one service-connected condition?

No.  The 60% VA rating for at least one-service connected condition just means that you could file.  You still have to prove that you are unemployable to qualify for TDIU.

What is the benefit of qualifying for TDIU?

The main benefit of qualifying for TDIU is getting paid at a 100% VA rating level.  There is a substantial difference between what you will draw for a VA rating of 90% and a VA rating of 100%.

For example, a veteran alone in 2017 would draw almost $1,800 a month with a 90% rating but would draw almost $3,000 a month with a 100% rating.  So, there is a difference of approximately $1,200 per month.  This means that a veteran with a 100% rating will receive over $14,000 a year more than a veteran with a 90% rating.

If the veteran has dependents (spouse, children, and/or parents), then the benefit numbers are a little different depending on the number and type of dependents.  But, veterans with a 100% rating still receive around $1,200 a month more than similar veterans with a 90% rating.

Can I apply for TDIU if my highest rated service-connected disability is under 60%?

Yes.  The threshhold of a 60% rating for at least one service-connected disability is not the only way to potentially become eligible for TDIU.  Veterans with a combined VA rating of 70% who have at least one rating of 40% can also apply for TDIU.

So, VA allows you to apply for TDIU if you have one very severe service-connected disability.  It also lets you apply if you have several service connected disaiblities and one of them is pretty severe.

Man talking with a doctor holding his neck in pain

The thought here by VA seems to be the same.  One severe disability may make it very difficult for you to work, but one fairly severe disability combined with several more minor disabilities may also prevent you from working.

Will VA automatically give me TDIU if I get my 60% rating and am unemployable?

Probably not.  VA almost always makes you file an application for TDIU.  While there are some exceptions to that, the safest thing to do is to file for TDIU.  Otherwise, you risk VA saying that you cannot get the backpay you would be owed because you did not actually apply for TDIU.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

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