The VA 21-8940, also known as an Application for Increased Compensation Based On Unemployability, is a rather complex and confusing form. Unemployability means the inability of a veteran to secure or follow gainful employment. Claims for an increased rating are considered claims for IU (Individual Unemployability) if any of the following conditions apply:
- The IU claim is submitted on VAF 21-8940, or
- In addition to a formal or informal claim for an increased rating, the veteran alleges that he or she is unemployable or VA receives evidence of unemployability, or
- In the course of developing a claim for an increased rating, VA obtains evidence of unemployability and VA grants the veteran a rating that makes the veteran eligible for IU.
Section I of the form deals with Disability and Medical Treatment. In this section, the veteran is asked to answer what disability keeps him/her from working. If the veteran wants all service connected disabilities listed, the best advice here is to limit the disabilities to the biggest two. Note: A veteran’s service-connected disability(ies) must be the primary reason for being unable to work. If there is any non service-connected disability(ies) involved, then a doctor would need to make a statement as to why the non service-connected disability(ies) are a non factor in the veteran being unable to work. If the veteran is being treated by a doctor/hospital, or both, for his/her disability, the veteran must answer yes on the form, and also provide the name and address of the treating physician/hospital. If only one, list which medical provider is correct. It is very important to state the frequency (ex. monthly, weekly, every other week, etc.) rather than specific dates for the medical provider to whom the veteran goes for treatment relating to his/her particular disability(ies).
Section II of the form asks for all employment history for the five-year period preceding the date on which the veteran claims to have become too disabled to work. So, for example, if a veteran stopped working in 2010, work history from 2005-2010 would need to be provided, along with the name(s) and address(es) of the employers, what type of work was performed, how many hours per week, and the dates of employment. Veterans who are in receipt of Individual Unemployability benefits may work as long as it is not considered substantially gainful employment. Substantially gainful employment is defined as employment at which non-disabled individuals earn their livelihood with earnings comparable to the particular occupation in the community where the veteran resides. The employment must be considered marginal employment. Marginal employment is generally deemed to exist when a veteran’s earned income does not exceed the amount established by the U.S. Census Bureau as the poverty level for the veteran only. For 2014, the poverty level for which a veteran must be working under is $11,670.
Finally, Section III addresses schooling and other training. This section is fairly self-explanatory in that the veteran is asked whether he or she acquired any other education or training before becoming too disabled to work, or had any education or training since becoming too disabled to work, and specifically what kind of education or training it was. In this, and every section of the form, accurate and specific information supplied by the veteran goes a long way in helping the VA expedite a decision for IU.
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