If you or a veteran you know is unable to work due to one or more service-connected disabilities, you may be eligible for a VA benefit called total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). TDIU provides monthly compensation, and is basically another way for veterans to qualify for a 100% disability rating without their condition(s) actually reaching that point.
One question many veterans have about TDIU is whether or not they can continue working and still receive TDIU benefits. The short answer is that, yes, you can continue working, but there are limits placed on the amount of income a veteran can make.
How Does TDIU Work?
Not everyone’s path to applying for TDIU will look the same. One veteran with clearly diagnosed and VA-rated disabilities may be eligible for ‘schedular’ TDIU, while another veteran may need to apply for ‘extraschedular’ TDIU, which entails a closer examination of their level of disability and inability to work.
First and foremost, and regardless of the nature of your disabilities, your disabilities must prevent you from securing and holding gainful employment. And again, your combined disability rating does not need to reach 100%.
You may be eligible for schedular TDIU in one of two ways. First, you may have a single disability that is rated 60% or higher. Second, you may have two disabilities, one of which must be rated at least 40%, which together add up to 70%.
Extraschedular TDIU may be sought if your disabilities do not make you eligible for schedular TDIU, but for a unique reason, you are still unable to maintain gainful employment. In cases like this, you must go through the extra step of having the Director of Compensation Service make an initial determination about your claim to see it warrants receiving benefits.
What Are My Income Limits If I Receive TDIU Benefits?
VA allows for veterans to receive TDIU while simultaneously holding marginal employment. This means the veteran is making income less than the Census Bureau’s current official poverty threshold. This number varies based on the number of a veteran’s dependents. The following figures shows what the 2022 threshold is for different family sizes:
|Persons In Family/Household||Poverty Guideline|
Families or households with more than 8 people can add $4,720 for each additional person.
Additionally, veterans may also retain TDIU benefits and make more than the poverty threshold, but only if they work in an ‘protected work environment.’ This means that a veteran, being paid a fair wage, is allowed to work for a business in a limited capacity, doing work similar to other coworkers but being held to a lower standard due to their disabilities. There are no hard and fast rules concerning what makes a business a protected work environment, so each case is reviewed individually to determine if the veteran’s work circumstances warrant their receipt of TDIU benefits.
Assistance With Your Claim
Applying for TDIU isn’t always a straightforward process, and in most cases it’s best for veterans to seek professional assistance to ensure that their claims are approved. If you need assistance with your TDIU claim or appeal, please contact VA Disability Group PLLC online or at 844-VET-LAWS today.