To even be considered for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU) with the VA, you must have at least the following ratings for service-connected conditions:
- You must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least at 60%, OR
- Two or more service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of at least 70 % with at least one of those rated at 40 % or more.
In order to meet the 60% or the 40%/70% percentage requirements, be aware that for certain disability conditions you can combine ratings to meet the “one disability” requirement if they fall under certain situations. According to the law, CFR §4.16, the following would be considered one disability:
(1) Disabilities of one or both upper extremities, or of one or both lower extremities, including the bilateral factor, if applicable,
(2) Disabilities resulting from common etiology or a single accident,
(3) Disabilities affecting a single body system, e.g. orthopedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular-renal, neuropsychiatric,
(4) Multiple injuries incurred in action, or
(5) Multiple disabilities incurred as a prisoner of war.
Here are some examples that could satisfy the requirements of items (2) and (3) above:
- Service connection for Diabetes with secondary conditions such as peripheral artery disease, diseases of the eye, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and foot damage. These all have a “common etiology” of Diabetes and so could be combined to fulfill number 2 above.
- Another “common etiology” example would be Parkinson’s Disease with secondary conditions such as sleep disorders, cognitive difficulties, bladder problems, constipation and depression resulting from the Parkinson’s Disease.
- Orthopedic conditions such as low back pain, cervical spine pain, and hip pain could all be combined to fulfill the requirement of number 3 above as they all affect a single body system.
- Service-connected injuries received in a military accident (e.g., a motor vehicle accident) including traumatic brain injury, a fractured leg, and a cervical spine condition could be combined to fulfill the requirements of item 2 above if they all resulted from that single accident.
These are just a few examples of using combined ratings to meet either the 60% single disability requirement or the 40% single disability (with a total of 70%) requirement for a veteran to be eligible for TDIU. Once you meet that requirement, there are other conditions that must be met in order to be granted TDIU such as being unable to maintain “substantially gainful” employment. (You might also qualify for TDIU if you are still working but your income must be below a certain level or your job must be in a protected environment.) Also keep in mind that TDIU is not restricted to certain age groups. If you are 85 years old and meet the eligibility requirements of TDIU, you could still qualify for and be granted TDIU.