Veterans qualify for TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability) when they are unable to work at a substantial gainful occupation due to a service connected conditions (or a combination of service connected conditions). TDIU payment results in a payment amount at the 100% rate, even when a Veteran’s combined rating is less than 100%. TDIU exists because the VA recognizes that the schedular rating system does not cover all situations where a Veteran may not be able to engage in self-support work due to service connected impairments. TDIU benefits are the same as they are for Veterans rated at 100%.
How do I Qualify for TDIU?
Pursuant to 38 C.F.R. 4.16 there are two ways to qualify for consideration of a TDIU claim.
A Veteran must have one impairment rated at 60% or a combined rating of 70% with at least one impairment rated at 40%.
2. Extra Schedular
A Veteran who does not meet the schedular criteria, but who has an unusual disability picture can be sent for consideration of an extra-schedular rating.
How do I apply for TDIU?
You may have already applied without realizing it. TDIU claims do not have to be filed separately and is supposed to be considered by the VA in any claim for service connection or ratings increase where the unemployability is raised in the record. However, if you are unable to maintain work due to your health, it is always best to specifically tell the VA that you want TDIU to be considered. There is a form (VA Form 21-8940) that you need to submit, but you can also just include a statement such as “I cannot work due to my service related impairments. Consider my claim for TDIU.” on your application or request for an increased rating. That will start your claim. You will still need to complete the 21-8940 form for the VA to give them the financial and work information needed to consider your claim. If you do not include it with your application, the VA will mail it to you.
Beware that the VA may award your TDIU but give you the incorrect effective date. In most cases, the effective date should be the date you filed your claim for service connection or an increased rating and asked for TDIU. That date may be earlier than the date you submitted the 21-8940. The VA will sometimes incorrectly assign the effective date as the date the form was received.