A VA determination that you are disabled will help you get the compensation you need. But it may not be a permanent designation, and the VA can later attempt to reduce your rating. Fortunately, there are options for some veterans to be considered totally and permanently disabled, and for that rating to be protected from future decreases.
Disability Law Group is here to answer your questions and make sure you get the maximum VA benefits available to you under law. We will help you not only apply for monthly compensation but appeal any unfair adverse decisions.
What Is TDIU?
Total Disability Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, is a rating for veterans who can’t work due to their service-connected disability. Veterans who can’t obtain or keep employment because of their injuries or conditions stemming from their time in service may be granted TDIU. These benefits pay at the same level as a veteran who has received a 100% disability rating.
To obtain TDIU, all of these conditions must be true:
- The veteran must have at least one service-connected disability that has been rated at 60% or greater disability; or two or more service-connected disabilities, provided that at least one is rated at 40% or greater disability and the combined disability rating is 70% or greater
- The veteran must not be able to hold down a steady job that supports them financially because of the service-connected disability (also known as substantially gainful employment)
- The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged
Veterans who have paying jobs may still be able to qualify for a TDIU rating. Marginal employment, such as odd jobs, do not count as substantially gainful employment. The income earned must be below the federal poverty level.
How Do I Receive TDIU?
To receive TDIU benefits, the veteran must apply for disability compensation and fill out two additional forms:
- Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability (Form 21-8940)
- Request for Employment Information in Connection with Claim for Disability Benefits (Form 21-4192)
You have to provide medical evidence in support of your disability benefits application. That evidence may include doctor’s notes, medical test results, and other documentation. The VA will also review your work and educational background. This evidence is used to determine whether you are able to hold down any sort of gainful employment.
Is TDIU Permanent?
TDIU can be, but is not necessarily, permanent. If the VA decides your TDIU benefits will be permanent, this will be indicated in your rating decision. It may be done in one of several ways:
- There may be a “Permanent and Total” (P&T) box on your form that is checked
- The form may state “no further exams are scheduled”
- The letter may indicate you are eligible for Chapter 35 DEA or CHAMPVA benefits
It is also possible for initially temporary TDIU benefits to become permanent. This happens either if you are 70 years or older or you have received TDIU benefits for 20 years or more consecutively.
Can The VA Reduce Or Terminate My TDIU Benefits?
The VA can terminate your TDIU benefits if it determines that your condition has improved to the point that you are able to maintain substantially gainful employment. Your TDIU rating may also be reduced if you are able to maintain substantially gainful employment for 12 consecutive months. However, this rule does not apply to veterans who are working in what is known as a protected work environment. This designation usually applies to a situation where some special accommodation is made for the veteran.
What Is Permanent and Total Disability?
A different designation known as permanent and total disability applies to veterans whose disabilities are not expected to improve. But it’s important to understand the definitions of “permanent” and “total”:
- Permanent. This means that based on the medical evidence, it is reasonably certain that the disability will continue for the rest of the veteran’s life. The veteran’s age may be taken into account, so younger veterans are less likely to be considered permanently disabled.
- Total. The VA uses a rating schedule to determine to what degree the disability interferes with the veteran’s ability to function. “Total” means that the rating is 100%, indicating the veteran is completely or totally disabled.
It is possible for a veteran to have a total (100%) disability that is not permanent, or a permanent disability rated less than 100% (is not total). If the veteran has both permanent and total disability rating, it cannot be reduced and it may entitle the veteran to other benefits besides monthly compensation.
How Do I Obtain A Permanent and Total Disability Rating?
The first thing you must do to obtain a permanent and total disability rating is to prove that your condition is service-connected.
There is no VA benefits application for permanent and total disability. But if you believe that your total disability is unlikely to improve, and you have supporting evidence for this, you can write a letter to the VA requesting them to find you permanently and totally disabled. You should include medical evidence in your letter to support the request, including but not limited to medical reports, doctors’ notes, and treatment records.
The VA may determine at the time you apply for benefits that you are permanent and totally disabled. Be prepared to support this claim in the event they don’t so designate you first.
What Can Disability Law Group Do for Me?
We want veterans to get the compensation they need and deserve for the service they’ve provided our country. Our team has worked with countless veterans to explain how TDIU and permanent and total disability benefits can support them. We will review your case and advise you of your legal options. If your application was wrongfully denied, we’ll step in and appeal the decision.
Trust Disability Law Group to help with your VA benefits application. Call us today.