Matthew: Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Matthew Hill, and here with me is Carol Ponton. Today we want to talk to you about unemployability or total disability due to individual unemployability, or IU as everyone knows it. We’ve written plenty about this on our blog.
Essentially, unemployability is a way to get 100% compensation where your disabilities don’t necessarily combine to 100%. This is another way.
Carol: Remember, the one way that everybody knows about is your VA ratings have to add up to 100%. But remember with VA math, that’s very hard to do. This is the way that most people who aren’t working get 100%.
Matthew: As Carol just said, you have to show that you can’t work. But then also you have to have a disability where the combination of your disabilities equal 70% with one disability equaling 40, or you have one disability equaling 60%.
An easy one would be you had a back rating of 60% and you weren’t working. At that point, you were eligible. Or you had PTSD at 50 and then a back at 40, that would be equaling 70%.
Now, the trick in the details is that when you have the combo disabilities equaling 70%, you have to have one disability equaling 40. The mistake we see again and again is where vets think that disability has to be one disability. Same thing with the 60. It doesn’t have to be a single rating. Instead, it can be the VA allows for several different things. It can be one body system, like orthopedic – if a veteran has two bad knees or they have a bad back.
Carol: Specifically, if they have a bad back and that causes radiculopathy or pain down either leg, you can combine those to get your 60%.
Matthew: And your 40% to qualify when you have 70. Other ones are common ideology or a single event. So if a veteran was in an accident, and again hurt their back, had migraines as a result and had a bunch of scars, if all those ratings combine to 40 and they have a combined of 70, then they’ve met that threshold rating. Or if they all combine to 60, then that has met it as well.
Carol pointed to this, in that you have orthopedic or system-wide, but other ones are if you have a bilateral problem.
Carol: The right and the left arm.
Matthew: Or you could have scars and arthritis – the elbow on one arm and then a broken wrist on the left arm. But the fact that they’re bilateral is another way to do it.
Something else that the VA allows is if you have multiple disabilities occurred in action. So if you have shell fragment wounds, you have a TBI and you end up having kidney problems because it was punctured, if all of those combine to 60% then that meets the threshold right there. If they combine to 40 and then there are other disabilities that get the veteran up to 70%, then they are then eligible. Were there any other ones you were talking about this?
Carol: No. But if this sounds confusing to you, it is. It’s so confusing that we find the VA often misses this, and that means you’re missing it. So this is something that you really need to check out. A hundred percent is far more in the way of benefits than 90%. You’re talking $1200, $1300, $1400 a month so this is worth your while to see if you qualify for this.
Matthew: As she said we see mistakes again and again on the ratings. Advocates a lot of times will just flat out say you have to have that 40 one disability, or you have to have that 60. But that’s just not the case.
So if you find that you’re in a situation where you cannot work due to your VA disabilities, the whole basis of the rating system for VA is: how much does your disability keep you out of the workforce? Again, if you’re not working because of your disabilities, you should understand right then and there you’re eligible for 100% through unemployability.
If for some reason your disabilities do not add up altogether or combined to 70% or the 60%, you still are eligible for unemployability if it’s those disabilities that keep you out of the workforce. That’s a much harder one because your case has to go through the Central Office.
The one we see a lot is migraines. The top rating for a migraine is 50%. And if a migraine is keeping you out of work, you deserve 100% through unemployability, but since you don’t meet that magical number of 60 or combined 70, the VA is going to deny you again and again.
You just need to keep up and fight for that. From there you need good medical records from your doctor saying this is why you’re out of the workforce.
Carol: If you get those, you’re going to win. So don’t let them give you just 50%.
Matthew: That’s it for this edition of our Veteran Disability blog. We hope you enjoyed it. We will see you again soon.