Disabled veterans receiving TDIU benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs will need to verify their employment status to continue receiving these benefits.
Previously, former military service members had to fill out yearly forms to continue their TDIU benefits. But the VA changed this process in 2019.
Understanding the new verification protocol will help you take the right steps and keep your veterans benefits.
New Verification Process for Veterans Receiving Individual Unemployability Benefits
Veterans who are unable to obtain and sustain gainful employment due to their service-connected disability may be eligible for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU or IU). This means that the veteran can receive total disability compensation.
When it comes to eligibility for individual unemployability benefits, the VA will always consider employment status. This will determine whether you meet the requirements for this benefit and are eligible for disability compensation.
Several years ago, the VA put in place a new process that updates the TDIU employment verification process by eliminating the unnecessary burden for the veteran to respond to the VA’s request for current employment information.
If you are receiving IU benefits through the VA, you will receive a letter from the VA on the new process they will use to verify your employment status. Some veterans may already have received this letter.
What’s The New Verification Process?
The VA has streamlined the process of verifying veteran employment status.
The VA will now use data from the Social Security Administration wage match to identify veterans in receipt of individual unemployability benefits who have also earned wages above the poverty threshold. The VA will use the information from the previous year from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the current poverty threshold.
If a veteran who is in receipt of individual unemployability benefits has been identified as receiving wages over the poverty threshold, the VA will then send a VA Form 21-4140, Employment Questionnaire, for the veteran to complete and return to the VA – much like the old process of verifying employment status.
When filling out this form, the veteran will need to provide basic identifying information, details about their employer and hours, and earned income. Social security benefits and military retirement pay do not count as earned income in this case.
What Was The Old Process for IU Verification?
With the old process, the VA would send a veteran a VA Form 21-4140, Employment Questionnaire, every year requesting the veteran to report their employment status in order to determine continued eligibility to individual unemployability benefits. If a veteran failed to respond to the VA’s request within 30 days, the VA would then propose to discontinue that veteran’s individual unemployability benefits. This could be challenging for those who rely on their VA disability compensation.
The VA is continually looking for ways to make the process of obtaining VA disability benefits as simple as possible. This new process helps lift one weight off of your shoulder by not holding you responsible to complete yet another form to verify if you continually meet eligibility for unemployability benefits.
What Is The VA Individual Unemployability Timeline?
Understanding the typical VA individual unemployability timeline can help veterans understand the steps they need to take, including how employment verification fits into the full picture. Here are the main phases of the individual unemployability timeline.
- Claim: As with any type of VA benefits, filing a claim is the first step. When you file an initial claim, as well as a claim for an increased rating, the VA will automatically consider whether you meet the qualifications for TDIU.
- Rating Decision: Once you file a claim for benefits, it can take several months to receive your rating decision. When you receive your total disability rating decision in the mail, you’ll also know if the VA awarded TDIU benefits. If they didn’t, you would move on to the appeals process.
- Appeal: Veterans seeking individual unemployability status can appeal the VA’s decision. You must select a review option in order to protect your initial filing date for effective date purposes. This is included in the rating decision that is sent to you the veteran.
- BVA Decision: The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) decision is the longest step in the timeline. It can take several years for the BVA to send their decision about TDIU.
- Additional Appeals: If the BVA denies your appeal for TDIU status, there are some other options available. Some veterans will take their claim to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) as a next step. The next and final step after the CAVC is appealing to the Supreme Court. It’s rare that veterans need to go beyond the initial appeals process.
- Verification: If you receive TDIU status from one of the above paths, you may receive a letter periodically to verify your employment status. Again, while veterans used to verify their employment every year, this is no longer the case.
The path to total disability benefits isn’t always easy. Working with a veterans service officer (VSO) at your local regional office can be helpful in navigating the claims and appeals processes. Some veterans may also benefit from legal support, especially when appealing for benefits.
Need Help With Your TDIU Claim ?
To learn some exclusive tips from our VA disability lawyers, see the TDIU Benefits – VA Form 21-8940 article here.
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