Individual unemployability (IU) is a designation that certifies a veteran’s medical condition as making him or her unable to work in any capacity.
100% disability ratings and individual unemployability are both designations that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can assign to a veteran’s service-connected disability.
A 100% disability rating is the highest rating that the VA can assign and indicates that the veteran is totally disabled as a result of their service-connected disability. An individual unemployability designation means that the VA has determined that the veteran cannot work due to their service-connected disability.
How Do You Qualify for a 100% Disability Rating or Individual Unemployability?
A veteran may qualify for a 100% disability rating if they can provide evidence of a service-connected disability that is rated at 100% disabling. In order to qualify for IU, one way is to have a service-connected disability that renders you unable to work. This means your disability must be so severe that it prevents you from doing any kind of job, regardless of your training or experience.
In order to be considered for a 100% disability rating or individual unemployability, an individual must demonstrate that they meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability. This definition includes a requirement that the individual is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to their medical condition. The SSA will also consider an individual’s age, education, and work experience when making a determination.
My Service-Connected Ratings Add Up to Be Over 100% but I Am Getting Paid Less Than 100%, Did the VA Make a Mistake?
Believe it or not, the VA probably has not made a mistake in determining your combined rating. When you have more than one rated service-connected disability, the VA does not simply add each disability rating in order to reach a total. Instead, the VA combines the ratings using a Combined Ratings Table to calculate the total percentage.
For instance, a veteran may have a 20% disability rating for arthritis, and a 30% disability rating for asthma. However, this does not mean that the veteran’s overall disability rating is 50%. Using the Combined Ratings Table, the VA makes a calculation by considering each disability in order of severity, beginning with the highest evaluation. In this example, the veteran would receive a 40% combined rating.
What Is the Difference Between a 100% Rating and Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability?
The VA assigns disability evaluations from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. Your disability rating depends on the severity of your service-connected condition. For each degree of disability, the VA has a description of the symptoms a veteran must have in order to qualify for that rating. For example, in order to receive a 50% rating for migraines, you must experience “completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.” When a Veteran receives a 100% rating, it means that a veteran is totally disabled due to that service-connected condition.
Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU) is when a Veteran’s disability compensation is paid at the 100% rate even though the Veteran’s service-connected condition is less than the total of 100%.
How Do You Qualify for a 100% Disability Rating?
A 100% disability rating is one that is granted to a veteran who is determined by the VA to be unable to work due to a service-connected disability. To qualify for a 100% rating, a veteran must provide evidence that their disability or disabilities are so severe that they are unable to perform even the most basic tasks required to live independently. The VA will also consider the severity of a veteran’s symptoms, as well as their ability to manage any treatments or medications related to their disability.
There are a few steps that need to be taken to qualify for a 100% disability rating. One way is to be medically determined to be totally and permanently disabled. This can be done by the VA, your doctor, or another authorized agency. A veteran must then provide evidence that their injury or illness prevents them from performing any type of work and is service-related.
How Do You Qualify for Individual Unemployability?
1a. Your service-connected disabilities must prevent you from being able to get a job and keep the job, AND
- You must have one service-connected disability rated at least 60%; OR
2a. You have multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined total rating of at least 70%; AND
- at least one of those service-connected disabilities is rated 40% or higher.
For example, if you are service-connected at 60% for coronary artery disease due to Agent Orange exposure and as a result of a severe heart attack due to your coronary artery disease, you are unable to continue working; you would meet the qualifications for IU.
The above is just a guideline; the VA rules contain many nuances and expectations for receiving a 100% rating or IU. For example, did you know that there are instances where you can work and still receive Individual Unemployability? Also, there are instances where several disabilities are considered one disability for the purposes of calculating one 60% disability and one 40% disability.
Can the VA Reduce My 100% Total Rating or My IU?
To reduce your total rating, the VA has the burden to show that your service-connected condition has undergone “material improvement” under the ordinary conditions of life. To reduce a 100% rating based on IU, the VA must demonstrate actual employability. If the VA is attempting to reduce your rating, you are entitled to certain due process rights.
How Do You Appeal a Decision if You’re Denied a 100% Disability Rating or Individual Unemployability?
If you are denied a 100% disability rating or individual unemployability, you can appeal the decision. You can submit new evidence or provide an explanation of why the decision was wrong. You can also argue that the decision was unfair or that you deserve a higher rating.
To do this, you will need to fill out the appropriate appeal form which is available on the VA website. You have three options when it comes to appealing your unemployability denial. An experienced VA disability attorney can help you choose which appeal track is appropriate for your case. You will also need to provide evidence to support your claim. This evidence can include medical records, military records, and statements from people who know about your condition.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Do you know a service-disabled veteran? Or are you one? Meet Edward Farmer, an experienced DuPage County veteran’s disability attorney at a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Law Office. We offer free consultations to Veterans and their families who need legal assistance with wills, estates, disability benefits, and more.
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Contact us today at 1 (800) 700-4174 or fill out the form below to schedule a FREE initial consultation