Veterans returning from military duty may suffer from a disability, condition, or illness that’s service-connected. If the condition is severe enough, it can prevent them from living the life they had before and sometimes, the condition will make it difficult, if not impossible, to work.

The inability for a veteran to sustain gainful employment is critical in the determination of disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

man_on_computerProving that you are unable to work any job—whether it’s the one you had before leaving for service or another job you once held—can make you eligible for 100 percent disability rating known as Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

If you aren’t eligible for TDIU, you may qualify for partial disability. An experienced VA disability attorney will be able to assist you with your application or appeal and help explain how the VA will likely consider your condition

The Differences Between TDIU and Partial Disability

The VA provides veterans with compensation for any condition they suffered because of their duty. This can include:

  • A condition or an illness aggravated by military service
  • An illness or disability caused by exposure to hazardous materials or because of a hazardous environment
  • A condition that may be secondary in nature but occurred because of the service-connected condition

TDIU is an important benefit for veterans who qualify, especially for veterans who suffer critical disabilities such as a loss of a limb, and who are unable to work. This benefit provides a 100 percent disability rating. But even if a veteran’s service-connected conditions don’t add up to a 100, the TDIU benefit compensates a veteran as 100 percent disabled.

For example, if a veteran suffers from PTSD, ischemic heart disease, and hypertension, and his combined rating is 60 percent, he will be paid at 100 percent if awarded a TDIU rating. This increase provides a critical increase in the monthly benefit for veterans, and it can have a significant impact on veterans who can’t obtain a job because of service-connected disabilities.

It’s important to note that TDIU benefits are in addition to those you may already receive. It’s possible to get them as a supplement to your Special Monthly Compensation and other benefits.

If your condition doesn’t qualify for a 100 percent disability rating, you can still receive partial disability. The VA makes this determination based on how much your disability interferes with the normal functioning of your daily life.

If the VA finds that you suffer from a qualifying condition connected to your military duty that allows for partial benefits, the agency rates that condition on a scale from 0–to–90 percent. For example, if you’re at least 20 percent disabled, you’ll receive a monthly, tax-free payment currently listed at that percentage level.  

Of course, you’ll receive higher compensation if you qualify for TDIU benefits; but even if you don’t qualify, partial disability benefits can still provide critical financial support for you and your family.

How the VA Decides on TDIU or Partial Disability

When the VA makes a determination about disability benefits, the evaluation is based a number of factors, including:

  1. The veteran’s service-connected disabilities
  2. The veteran’s employment history
  3. The veteran’s education
  4. The veteran’s past work history and job training

It’s important to note that the VA doesn't factor in the age of the veterans for TDIU consideration.

Contact the Attorneys at Cuddigan Law

Whether you’re a veteran applying for partial disability or TDIU, it’s important to obtain the services of a skilled VA disability attorney.

The attorneys at Cuddigan Law have extensive background and experience handling disability claims for veterans. They can walk you through the application process, discuss your specific condition, and help determine your eligibility for partial disability or TDIU. They'll examine your specific case and develop the best strategy for obtaining the compensation you deserve.


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