Total disability due to individual unemployability (TDIU)
In order to qualify for TDIU, service-connected disabilities must meet minimum rating thresholds:
- If the veteran has only one service-connected disability, it must be rated at least 60 percent or higher.
- If the veteran has two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one of those disabilities must be rated at 40 percent or higher, and, after factoring in the ratings for the other disabilities, the veteran’s combined disability rating must be 70 percent or higher.
- The final eligibility requirement is that the veteran must be unemployable on the basis of one or more of his or her service-connected disabilities.
Entitlement to TDIU generally requires evidence of unemployment due to the disability in question(i.e., employment history or employer records) and medical evidence that the veteran’s service-connected disability renders him or her totally disabled and unemployable (i.e., a doctor’s opinion letter). Age cannot be a factor in determining this benefit by the VA.
The fact that you have a paying job does not automatically disqualify you from being entitled to a TDIU rating. If your salary is substantially less than poverty level, or you are working at a job where you are protected from job requirements that someone else in that position would be expected to satisfy (e.g., working for a friend or relative), the VA will not consider you to be gainfully employed.
A job with a salary below the poverty level is called “marginal” employment. A job where you are protected from normal work requirements is called “sheltered” employment. Both marginal and sheltered employments are exceptions to the unemployment requirement for TDIU benefits.
TDIU is not necessarily a permanent benefit. The VA may periodically require you to undergo medical examinations to verify whether you are still unable to work due to a service-connected disability. Failure to report for such an examination could result in a revocation of TDIU.