Many veterans are unable to work due to their service-connected disability. But if the United States Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t rate their disability at 100 percent, they may not be receiving the disability compensation necessary to cover the loss in wages.
Fortunately, the VA offers a program for these veterans.
This VA benefit is called individual unemployability, or IU. By applying for IU, veterans can receive the disability benefits to which they’re entitled. We’re breaking down the basics of IU below.
What Is Individual Unemployability?
Individual unemployability, or IU, is a type of disability compensation that compensates veterans at a 100 percent rate. As part of the VA’s disability compensation program, IU can be a great option for veterans who are unable to work but haven’t received a 100 percent disability rating. These veterans may have one or more disabilities.
Who Is Eligible for Individual Unemployability?
The VA has specific requirements for IU eligibility. Veterans applying for IU must:
- be a veteran, AND
- be unable to sustain substantially gainful employment as a result of their service-connected disability (or disabilities), AND
- have one of the following:
- a disability that’s rated at 60 percent or more, OR
- multiple disabilities, with one that rates at 40 percent or higher AND a total disability rating of at least 70 percent.
The VA considers each veteran’s application on a case-by-case basis. Veterans who work odd jobs may still be eligible for IU, since the VA considers this to be marginal employment.
If you’re unable to hold a job due to your service-connected disability (or disabilities) and meet the rating requirements, it may be worth pursuing IU status.
What Evidence Do You Need for Individual Unemployability?
When applying for individual unemployability, disabled veterans will need to present evidence. This evidence should include:
- Evidence of one or more service-connected disabilities. These disabilities must meet the VA’s schedular requirements.
- Evidence that the service-connected disability or disabilities prevent the veteran from obtaining or sustaining substantially gainful employment (due to either mental or physical disabilities).
It’s important to note that there are some cases where the VA will grant IU even if the veteran has a lower disability rating than necessary. However, the veteran must present evidence that shows that the typical eligibility criteria is unreasonable in that case. For example, a veteran might show that they have experienced frequent periods of hospitalization that interfered with their ability to stay employed and earn an income.
Once a veteran is approved for IU, they may need to fill out an employment questionnaire to show that they’re still eligible.
How Do You Apply for IU Benefits?
There are several ways that veterans can apply for IU. Veterans can apply online through www.ebenefits.va.gov or submit VA Form 21-8940. You can also work with an accredited representative or agent or visit your VA regional office to get help with your application.
The VA has online resources available to help former military service members file claims for veterans’ benefits, including those for IU.
Once accepted, veterans will begin IU enrollment and start receiving monthly payments.
Have Questions About Your Entitlement for Individual Unemployability Benefits?
If your service-connected disability is preventing you from getting or holding substantial gainful employment, you may be eligible for additional veterans’ compensation. If the VA denied your claim for IU, the team at Hill & Ponton is here to help. Our attorneys focus on social security disability and veterans’ disability, helping individuals and families obtain the compensation they need. Contact us today for a case evaluation.
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