TDIU: How to get 100% VA benefits without being rated at 100%
Disabled Veterans can get 100% VA Disability benefits without being rated at 100%. As we have discussed in previous articles, getting to 100% is actually quite difficult. For instance, you can have a 70%, a 50%, and a 40%, but it just doesn't add up to 100%.
The solution, for those who have siginificant VA Disabilities, is Total Disability based on Individual Employability, or TDIU or IU for short. If one or more of the Veteran's Disabilities leaves the Veteran unable to find gainful employment, the VA grant 100% disability using TDIU.
There are three ways of getting there:
1. One disability rated at 60% or higher,
2. Two or more disabilities where one is rated greater than 40% and the total, combined ratings are greater than 70%.
3. Extra-Schedulre TDIU: If the ratings fall below the threshold outlined above, you can still apply for it, but it's harder to win.
So what is gainful employment? The VA defines gainful employment as working above the poverty line, which is about $12140 per year in 2018. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Even if you make more than the poverty line, you can still qualifiy for TDIU if you are working in "sheltered" employment. Unfortunately, the VA has not done a great job defining sheltered employment, but it usually means that you are self-employed or work for a family member and cannot get fired.
We have seen a number of Vets come to us saying "I don't want TDIU, I want to work." As said above, you can work and receive TDIU under certain circumstances. If you are on TDIU, and you return to work, you must notify the VA in writing. The VA may decide to remove your TDIU status.
But what if the Social Security Administration has found me totally disabled? The Social Security Administration and the VA use different standards. The SSA looks at all of the Veteran's disabilities, whether or not they are service-connected. The VA only looks at Service Connection for the purposes of TDIU.
If the VA decides to remove your TDIU status, you should IMMEDIATELY contact an Accredited VA Attorney. If you believe you may be entitled to TDIU, and the VA has not granted it, please contact us immediately. As always, the Veteran's Benefits Team at Dolina Hobbs stands by to assist.
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