Six Things You Don't Know about Individual Unemployability

 Posted on January 19,2024 in Uncategorized

While many veterans might be familiar with the term Individual Unemployability or TDIU, there are intricacies and lesser-known aspects that are crucial for a comprehensive understanding. Today, we'll delve into these nuances, providing clarity and guidance.

1. The ‘One Disability' Rule in TDIU:

A common misconception about TDIU is how disabilities are categorized. It's known that for TDIU eligibility, a single disability must be rated at least 60%, or if multiple, one must be 40% with a combined rating of 70%. However, what's less known is that multiple disabilities can sometimes be considered as "one disability." For example:

- Extremities: Disabilities in both arms or legs, or in one limb, may count as one. If you have a 20% rating for radiculopathy in each leg, totaling 40%, this meets the single disability requirement.
- Common Cause Disabilities: Disabilities resulting from the same incident, like a car accident causing a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and neck issues, can be combined for rating purposes.
- System-Specific Disabilities: Multiple disabilities affecting one body system, such as the respiratory or cardiovascular system, are often grouped together.
- Injuries from Combat or POW Experiences: Disabilities stemming from a single combat event or time as a prisoner of war are usually considered as one.

Understanding this rule is crucial and applying for TDIU early can help preserve the earliest effective date for benefits.

2. Exclusion of Non-Service Connected Conditions:

When assessing TDIU eligibility, the VA solely considers service-connected disabilities. For instance, if a veteran has both service-connected lower back arthritis and a non-service connected herniated disc, only the lower back condition will influence the TDIU evaluation.

3. Acknowledging Educational and Occupational History:

The VA must take into account a veteran's educational and job background. If your service-connected disabilities are mostly physical and you've only ever worked in physically demanding jobs, the VA cannot expect you to easily transition to an office job without relevant experience.

4. Age is Not a Factor:

A key point in TDIU assessments is the irrelevance of age. The VA cannot base its decision on your age or the potential for future improvement in your condition.

5. TDIU as an Inferred Claim:

Interestingly, submitting a VA Form 21-8940 is not always necessary. The VA may infer TDIU eligibility if you meet the rating criteria and there's evidence of unemployability in your file. For example, if an examiner notes during a PTSD evaluation that you're unable to work due to your symptoms, the VA should infer a claim for TDIU. However, to avoid complications, completing the form is still advisable.

6. Earning Income Under TDIU:

A common myth about TDIU is that it completely restricts earning. In reality, TDIU recipients can have passive income or, in certain circumstances, even work. For more on this, refer to my video about working while rated 100%. https://www.vetlawoffice.com/working-and-va-disability-can-you-keep-100-rating-and-still-work-va-made-easy-podcast-video/


Understanding TDIU can be a game-changer for many veterans struggling with service-connected disabilities. By shedding light on these lesser-known aspects, we aim to empower our veterans with the knowledge to navigate the complexities of the VA system effectively. For more insights and assistance, stay tuned to VA Made Easy and visit us at VetLawOffice.com.

Ed Farmer is a VA accredited attorney and combat veteran, dedicated to supporting fellow veterans through legal guidance and advocacy in navigating the VA system. His expertise and personal experiences make him a trusted voice in the veteran community.

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