Unveiling the 100% VA Rating Mystery: Can You Still Work?
Ever wondered if you can juggle a 100% VA rating and a job? Well, you’re not alone. Many folks have the same burning question. Today, we’re diving deep into the VA rating world to shed some light on this intriguing topic. So, can you still work and receive a 100% VA rating? The answer isn’t as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Buckle up; we’re about to embark on this enlightening journey.
Understanding the 100% VA Rating:
There are several routes to achieving a 100% VA rating. The first two paths involve having one disability rated at 100% or a combined rating of 100%. In these scenarios, you’re not barred from working and earning an income. You could even rake in a million bucks a year and still get your VA service-connected disability benefits. But, here’s the catch: some disabilities, like PTSD at 100%, imply severe symptoms that hinder your ability to work. If the VA gets wind of you working while holding a 100% rating, they might reevaluate your disabilities and potentially reduce your rating. However, don’t fret just yet – we’ll save the discussion on reductions for another time.
How to Safeguard Your 100% Rating:
What’s the golden rule to preserve your 100% rating while still earning an income? Simple – stop filing claims! When you’re at 100% and keep filing claims, you’re essentially inviting the VA to scrutinize your disabilities. There are only a few instances where you can get paid above 100%, so unless you qualify for one of those rare cases, cherish your 100% rating.
The TDIU Option:
Another path to a 100% rating is through a benefit called Individual Unemployability or TDIU. In a nutshell, if your service-connected disabilities prevent you from maintaining substantial gainful employment, the VA will pay you at the 100% rate. You don’t need to be totally unemployed for TDIU, but there are income restrictions. To put it plainly, you can receive TDIU and work, but your earnings must stay below the Federal poverty rate. Currently, that’s $13,590 for a single person in the continental United States, with rates varying for larger households. Remember, the IRS and VA exchange information, so if you’re earning and filing taxes, the VA will know. Earning under the poverty level and working is allowed, but it might raise some eyebrows at the VA, potentially leading to a disability reevaluation and the loss of your unemployability.
Exceptions to the Rule:
There are two exceptions to the substantial gainful employment rule. First, if your income is passive – meaning you’re making money without actively working in a business – you should still be able to keep your TDIU, even if your income exceeds the poverty rate. The other exception is a ‘protected work environment.’ This is a unique employment situation where your employer, often a friend or family member, makes special accommodations for you that aren’t typical in other workplaces. For instance, if you have frequent migraine headaches, your employer allows you to leave work when needed. In this scenario, you’re employed solely because of these accommodations. Securing or maintaining TDIU within a protected work environment can be a complex endeavor, often requiring the guidance of a VA accredited representative.
Thanks for hanging in there! Navigating the world of VA ratings and employment can be a bit tricky, but now you’re armed with knowledge. If you need further assistance with your VA claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of Edward M. Farmer.