Many veterans have questions about “Individual Unemployability”. Individual Unemployability is often known as TDIU or IU. TDIU provides a method for veterans to get a 100 percent rating by proving that their service-connected disabilities make them “unemployable”.
TDIU is one of the most confusing areas of VA disability benefits. Many veterans have questions about it. A lot of veterans wonder if they are even eligible to apply.
I have written several articles about TDIU that are posted on our website. In this article, I am going focus on a few different questions that many veterans have.
One of the questions that I get routinely is “Is it too late for me to file a claim for TDIU?” Often, a veteran has been out of work for some time and has not yet filed a claim. They may have been told by someone that it may be too late for them to file for TDIU.
The answer to this question is no. It is not too late to file for TDIU. It does not matter if you have been out of work months or even years.
I do not need to know how long you have been out of work to answer that questions because there is no time limit on an application for TDIU. It is similar to the rules for all other sorts of VA disability compensation benefits. There’s no time limit or a deadline to begin that process.
Even if it’s been months or years, go ahead and look into this, see if it’s something that you think you’re eligible. I have talked to veterans who have been out of work over ten years before applying for TDIU benefits.
Of course, you are almost always better to apply sooner rather than later. The reason why is that your application for the increased rating through TDIU is going to start your potential eligibility for benefits. So, applying sooner means that you can receive all the benefits you should if you successfully prove your entitlement to TDIU benefits and the 100% rating.
Do I automatically qualify for TDIU if I receive a 70% VA rating?
There are two alternative criteria that are like threshold barriers to being considered for TDIU. One of those is at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher. The other is multiple service-connected disabilities that combine to a 70% overall VA rating.
I often get asked whether a veteran automatically qualifies for TDIU benefits with a 70% overall rating? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no.
The single disability at 60% or the overall rating at 70% is just a just the threshold schedular criteria for consideration of TDIU benefits. Reaching these criteria does not automatically qualify you for a TDIU rating. It just makes you eligible to apply for one.
Now, a veteran with multiple disabilities that add up to a 70% VA rating will often have difficulty working. But, VA will not automatically grant you these benefits. By meeting these criteria, you have only gotten over the first hump.
You still have to show that you are unemployable due to those service-connection conditions. That is when the real work begins on your claim to prove TDIU.
Here is another question I get a lot. Does TDIU pay less than a 100% schedular rating? The answer is no. They pay the same.
Both TDIU and a 100% schedular rating pay you at the 100% rating level. Currently, they both pay around $3,000 a month, depending on whether you have dependents and how many you have.
A schedular rating is one where your ratings add up to 100% using VA math. TDIU is an extraschedular rating where VA gives you the 100% rating even though VA math does not make your ratings add up to 100%.
Since TDIU and a schedular 100% rating pay you the same, there is not really a big advantage to getting the 100% schedular rating. The main reason that you might push for a 100% schedular rating is that you are still employable even thought you can demonstrate a 100% rating.
If you are still employable, then you will not be able to prove the unemployable part of the TDIU requirement. But, you shoulder remember that you can sometimes still be working and be technically “unemployable” when you are working in certain jobs. To find out more about that, read this article.
The short answer to that question is “no.” You don’t have to already be service-connected.
TDIU can be made as part of an original claim for service connection of a particular disability. It can also be made as part of an increased rating claim, for something that is already service-connected.
In most situations, what I see is a veteran making a TDIU claim on a disability that is already service-connected. However, it doesn’t have to be done that way.
Let’s run through an example here of a veteran with Vietnam service. The veteran is diagnosed with ischemic heart disease, which VA should presume was caused by the veteran’s exposure to Agent Orange or another herbicide in service. If the veteran has severe limitations because of the ischemic heart disease and will probably qualify for a 60% rating, then it will often make sense to go ahead and claim TDIU benefits, even though the veteran has not yet received a grant of service-connection.
You can do this. VA can decide both of those issues, service-connection and TDIU at the same time. VA does this all the time with any application for a service-connected condition. If they decide the condition is service-connected, then VA has to assign your rating.
If you file for TDIU before being service-connected, then VA will just consider whether you qualify for TDIU after they grant service-connection for your condition. So, if you are applying for service-connection for a condition that makes you unemployable, you should strongly consider filing for TDIU at the same time.