TDIU & Non-Service Connected Disabilities
Many veterans become unemployable as a result of service-connected disabilities. These disabilities prevent them from holding down a regular job.
However, VA often denies these unemployable veterans when they file for total disability individual unemployability (TDIU). One reason VA denies TDIU is non-service connected disabilities.
If you file for TDIU, you probably have service-connected disabilities and non-service connected disabilities. Non-service connected disabilities include all conditions that are affecting your body and your ability to function which are not related to your military service.
But you may have other disabilities that are clearly not service connected. If so, you need to know how those non-service connected disabilities could affect your TDIU claim.
Do these non-service connected disabilities matter in your TDIU claim?
The answer is yes and no. If you have to have a connection between a service-connected disability and your inability to work to qualify for a 100% rating through TDIU, then clearly you want to establish the link between the service-connected disability and the your inability to work.
You do not want to establish a link between non-service connected disabilities and your inability to work. If you show that the reason you cannot work is not service-connected, VA likely could deny your claim. In this situation, you might receive a rating decision that said something like:
- “While the veteran is clearly unemployable, we find that the unemployability is caused by conditions that are not related to military service.”
How do you avoid VA determining that your unemployability is due to a non-service connected condition?
You overcome that by trying to minimize the effects of your non-service connected disabilities. You want to emphasize all affects of your service-connected disabilities.
To do this, you should talk about all the symptoms and all the limitations of your service-connected disabilities. To find out more about how to do that, you can read this article.
But, you also need to plan for what VA may do. So, how can you minimize the effects of all of your non-service connected disabilities?
Suppose you have a heart condition that is not service connected. You could try to show VA that it does not limit you. You might have medical records that indicate that your heart does not limit your activities in any way.
Some veterans have non-service connected heart disease. Others have non-service connected diabetes. You might have other non-service connected conditions. But, if those conditions do not limit what you can do in the workplace, then VA should not use them to deny your TDIU claim.
What do I do if VA denies my TDIU claim because of my non-service connected disabilities?
Hopefully, you can avoid this problem. But, if VA still decides that your non-service connected disabilities caused your unemployability, they will probably deny your TDIU claim.
If that happens, you will need to consider your options regarding appeal. You will first need to understand what level of the VA process you are at so you can know what your appeal options are. This article from filing to statement of the case and this article from statement of the case to the U.S. Supreme Court will help you understand more about that.
If you receive a TDIU denial from VA, I would definitely recommend consulting with a VA disability attorney. To find out a little bit more about how our free consultation process works, you can read this short article I wrote. If you want to go ahead and set one up, just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit the consultation request form.
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.