Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU or just IU) is such an enormous benefit to veterans that it is worth taking another look at. TDIU is the VA’s way of admitting that, in spite of the assigned ratings that do not add up to being 100% disabled, some veterans still cannot work due to their disabilities. The VA determines a veteran’s entitlement to TDIU in the context of the individual veteran’s capabilities, regardless of whether an average person would be rendered unemployable under the same circumstances.
This is how it works. The VA determines IU based on a 2-step analysis: 1) Ratings; 2) proof of inability to work. In this blog post, we will look at Step 1.
Step 1: Ratings
In order to be eligible for IU, you must:
- Be a veteran
- Have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% OR
- Have more than 1 service-connected disability, with at least 1 of them rated at 40%, and the combined rating of all the service-connected disabilities adding up to 70%
For example: A veteran has been service-connected for his Lumbar Spine condition at 40%, his left knee at 30%, and his PTSD condition at 30%. Following the Combined Ratings procedures used by the VA, the veteran’s total percentage is 70%. Because the veteran has one service-connected disability rated at 40%, and because the total of his percentages is 70%, the veteran is now entitled to TDIU.
For the purposes of determining what a single disability is, the following factors define “single disability”:
- Disabilities of one or both upper extremities, or lower extremities, including the bilateral factor
- Disabilities resulting from a common etiology or single accident
- Disabilities affecting a single body system
- Multiple injuries incurred in action
- Multiple disabilities incurred as a POW
For example: A veteran suffers from several service-connected heart disabilities such as congestive heart failure and hypertension. These disabilities arise from a common etiology (the veteran’s heart condition). Therefore, according to regulations, the rating for these disabilities need only combine to a 60% evaluation in order for the veteran to qualify for TDIU under 4.16(a).