What Are Total Disability Individual Unemployability Benefits?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Feb 01, 2019 in Personal Injury

veterans disability benefitsWhen veterans are no longer able to work or obtain gainful employment due to a service-connected medical condition that is not rated at 100 percent, they may qualify for individual unemployability (IU) benefits, also known as total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). Veterans who qualify for TDIU benefits are compensated as if they have a disability that is rated at 100 percent.

If you are seeking to acquire TDIU benefits or have been denied veterans benefits, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side can be very beneficial. At Phillips Law Group, we know how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines eligibility and can assist you with your application to help recover the benefits you deserve. We can also help through all the stages of the appeals process if you are denied benefits. Schedule a free legal consultation today.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a veteran who is unable to maintain substantial gainful employment due to a service-connected disability to qualify for TDIU benefits. A service-connected disability is a mental or physical impairment caused by your time in the service.

The injury that caused your disability must have occurred on active duty, duty for training or inactive duty training. However, even if you meet these qualifications, you will be ineligible if you were dishonorably discharged.

Some common examples of service-connected impairments include:

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as Agent Orange
  • Gulf War syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Lost limbs
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing

You must also have either of the following:

  • At least one service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or higher
  • Two or more service-connected disabilities with one disability rated at 40 percent or higher, and a total rating of 70 or more

Disability ratings are based on the average impairment of your earning capacity, which means the more severe your impairment, the greater impact it has on your ability to find and maintain a job. Ratings are assigned in 10 percent increments starting at 10 percent. Any condition rated below 10 percent does not qualify for disability benefits.  

Evidence Needed to Prove Individual Unemployability

In addition to meeting the above requirements, veterans need to show certain evidence when filing a claim for disability compensation. This includes evidence of at least one service-connected disability, such as a copy of your VA disability letter. Your disability must have prevented you from performing any mental and/or physical tasks that are needed to obtain or sustain substantial gainful employment.

You can also submit copies of your employment history records to show you how your service-connected condition affected your employment. Medical evidence is also mandatory. You can submit your medical records, including test results or a written notification from your treating physician detailing how your condition makes you totally disabled and unable to obtain gainful employment.

If you are working at a job that pays below the poverty line, such as an odd job or side job, it may not be considered substantially gainful employment by the VA. Whether you are able to work or not, our lawyers can help determine if you should file a claim for TDIU benefits.

How to Apply for Individual Unemployability Benefits

There are a few ways to apply for individual unemployability benefits. You can complete VA Form 21-8940 (Veteran's Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability). This form will ask you to submit details on your disability and medical treatment, your work history over the last five years, and any type of education and training you had before becoming disabled and being unable to work. It can be mailed to the VA’s claims intake center or via fax.

You can also go to a local VA regional office to get assistance filing out the application or work with an accredited attorney, claims agent, or veterans service organization representative. The last option available is applying through eBenefits, which offers a comprehensive way to apply and manage your benefits online.

If you are approved for disability compensation, you will be issued benefits each month. You may be able to receive extra monthly compensation on top of your benefits in the event you have dependent children and parents. Back pay could also be owed to you. This is the money that should have been given to you while waiting on the VA to make a decision on your claim.

What If I Am Denied TDIU Benefits?

You may be able to file an appeal if were denied TDIU benefits. However, you have just one year from the date of the denial to appeal the decision.

The appeals process can be complicated and overwhelming to do on your own. This is why you should consider contacting a skilled attorney who understands why these types of claims may be denied in order to help you obtain the benefits you need.

Even if you were denied benefits before, there is no limit to the amount of times you can apply for disability compensation. An attorney can review your situation to determine if filing again is a good idea.

Contact Phillips Law Group for a Free Consultation

Our Phoenix personal injury attorneys have helped many of our clients obtain the compensation they are entitled. We are here for you and will support you through the disability claims process every step of the way. You have the right to financial assistance when your disability is the reason you can no longer work. 

Contact Phillips Law Group to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We will review your case and help you determine if you have grounds to file a TDIU claim. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront legal fees for our services unless we help you recover disability compensation.

Fill out our online form today or call 1-800-706-3000 to find out how we can help you.

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