When a veteran suffers a service-connected disability, it may be severe enough that he can no longer perform the type of work he or she did in the past, or even work at all. When this happens, a veteran may qualify for a 100 percent disability rating known as Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

The primary factor when determining the eligibility of a TDIU claim is whether or not a veteran is unable to engage in “substantially gainful employment” due to a service-connected condition. This term means a person can hold a job that meets the annual poverty level amount designated by the federal government.

If you're not able to work because of an impairment suffered during military service, an experienced VA disability attorney can help determine if you qualify for this benefit.

Meeting the Requirements for TDIU

To qualify for TDIU benefits, a veteran must meet the following criteria:

  • He or she has a service-connected condition or disability with a scheduler rating of 60 percent or more
  • He or she has two or more service-connected conditions or disabilities, and at least one of them is rated at 40 percent or more, and the combined rating is 70 percent or more
  • In both cases, the service-connected conditions must make the veteran unemployable

In order for someone to prove unemployability by the TDIU requirements, an individual must provide medical evidence which verifies he or she can’t work. Often, a doctor’s opinion letter is included with the veteran’s application that outlines and explains the veteran’s inability to work.

Additionally, employment history records are included to show a veteran is now unable to perform past jobs and that shows evidence of unemployment due to his or her condition.

You Can Still Have a Job and Get TDIU Benefits

You won’t be disqualified from getting a TDIU award if you have a paying job. However, that job must meet the following requirements:

  • It pays less than the designated poverty level amount
  • It's “protected” from the typical requirements another employee might be required to perform for that position 
  • It's a task or responsibility a friend or family member has hired you to do.

Contact Cuddigan Law

We understand that every veteran’s claim is different. The attorneys at Cuddigan Law will examine your specific case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim or file an appeal if it’s been denied.

Contact Cuddigan Law to get help with your VA application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska