Over 15% of veterans with service-connected disability ratings have a 100% rating. While VA disability compensation helps, veterans may still want to work to support themselves and their families. So can you work with 100% VA disability? The answer is yes! The type of 100% rating you have may affect the circumstances under which you’re allowed to work.
You can earn a 100% VA rating in several ways. Each of these ratings will come with its own criteria and requirements for working, so it’s essential to understand their differences.
- Can I Still Work with 100% VA Disability?
- How to Work with a 100% Schedular Disability Rating
- How to Work with a TDIU 100% Rating
- How to Work with a 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) Disability
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
Can I Still Work with 100% VA Disability?
Yes! You can still work with 100% VA disability! Educating yourself about the criteria you must meet is essential. It will help you determine if there are any limitations based on the type of 100% VA disability rating you have.
The Different Ways You Can Get a 100% VA Disability Rating
There are several different types of 100% VA disability, including:
- A 100% schedular rating – You either meet the criteria for 100% for one condition, or multiple conditions are combined to reach a 100% rating.
- Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) – You have one or more disabilities that prevent you from holding down a steady job that supports you financially. Note: This could also be rated as permanent, but it isn’t necessarily permanent.
- 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) – You meet the criteria for 100%, and your condition(s) are unlikely to improve.
If you’re filing for the first time on your own, check out our post on how to file a VA Claim. Filing your claim the correct way will save you a lot of headaches and frustration down the road.
The current 2023 disability compensation rate for a veteran at 100% without dependents is $3,621.95. You can review all the 2023 VA disability rates here.
How to Work with a 100% Schedular Disability Rating
If you’re given a 100% VA rating, this is also called a “total” VA rating. This means you’re disabled at the highest level for your disability. In order to be granted this rating, you must have at least one service-connected disability; however, you could have more.
You could have one condition rated at 100%, or you could have several service-connected conditions that are combined to get to a 100% VA disability rating. Use our VA Disability Calculator to determine how your different conditions combine to make your VA rating.
Can you work with 100% VA disability if you have a schedular rating? Yes! There are no work restrictions on a 100% schedular VA rating. Many veterans with one condition rated at 100% are severely impacted to the point where employment becomes difficult. However, veterans with several service-connected disabilities that combine to a 100% VA rating may find it easier to maintain employment.
The bottom line is that the VA puts no restrictions on your work if you can work.
Read this guide to learn how to get rated at 100% by the VA.
How to Work with a TDIU 100% Rating
A TDIU 100% rating is an alternative path to getting a 100% VA disability rating. If your disability rating is less than 100%, this route allows you to get full compensation from the VA at the 100% level.
To qualify for TDIU, you must meet both of these criteria:
- You have one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher or two more or more disabilities with at least one rated at 40%, combining to a rating of 70% or more.
- You can’t hold a steady job that supports you and your family.
It might be easier to get a 100% TDIU rating instead of a 100% schedular rating.
Can you work with 100% VA disability if you have TDIU? Yes, however, there are limitations.
TDIU is awarded when you’re unable to work under “substantially gainful employment” because of your service-connected conditions. The VA considers the threshold of work an ability to earn an annual income at or above the federal poverty line for a single person.
TDIU and Marginal Employment
You can continue working if you earn less than the federal poverty income level. This is computed based on the number of people in your household. For 2022, the federal poverty threshold for one person is $13,590 and goes up with more dependents in your household. This is also called marginal employment, and the limits are:
- 1 in household $13,590
- 2 in household $18,310
- 3 in household $23,030
- 4 in household $27,750
- 5 in household $32,470
- 6 in household $37,190
- 7 in household $41,910
- 8 in household $46,630
If you work and make less than the above amounts, this qualifies as “marginal employment,” and you’re OK to keep working. You can also be awarded TDIU if your income is below those limits.
The TDIU Workaround: a Protected Work Environment
If you earn less than the federal poverty threshold, but your job isn’t meeting your needs to support your family, you need to know about what the VA considers a protected work environment.
If your employer assists you due to your disability, allowing you to continue working while making more than the poverty threshold, the VA will consider this employment in a protected work environment.
You could continue working at an income level if your job meets one of these criteria of a protected work environment. These are merely examples, as the VA has no set criteria:
- Being paid the same for less work productivity as other employees
- Being excused from mandatory training
The VA Regional Office will likely determine if the accommodations your employer provides for you meet the criteria of a protected work environment. You can find the guidelines from the Department of Labor for your specific job to find the duties generally required. You can then use these to support your claim and show the accommodations that help you accomplish your job functions.
Family businesses are one of the most common places veterans are approved for protected work environments.
Can I work with permanent TDIU?
You can still work if you meet the requirements for marginal employment or are working in a protected work environment. This is true even if you have a permanent TDIU VA rating.
Read this article to learn more about how to win your VA TDIU claim.
How to Work with a 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) Disability
If you’ve been given a 100% P&T VA rating, this means that you have one or more service-connected disabilities that are likely to last for the rest of your life.
Can you work with 100% VA disability if you have a 100% P&T rating? Yes! As long as you do not have a 100% P&T rating that originated from a TDIU rating.
In the VA’s guidance, the Total in P&T means “The disabilities must also be totally disabling, which means VBA evaluated the disabilities as 100 percent disabling or the disabilities prevent veterans from securing and maintaining employment”.
It may be challenging to obtain this rating if you can work. Still, once you have a 100% P&T rating, there are no restrictions on your ability to work as long as the 100% P&T rating is based on a schedular rating, not a TDIU rating.
Read this guide to learn more about how to win your 100% P&T claim. Check out the video below to learn more about how to get TDIU.
If you’re a veteran struggling because of your service-connected disabilities, know that you’re alone. It’s important to know about the different options for getting a 100% VA disability rating and working with this rating.
Whether you have a TDIU rating or a schedular rating, there are ways that you can continue working while still receiving the benefits and support that you need. If you’re looking for more information or help, reach out to our team of expert coaches to learn how to get the rating you deserve.
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law.
Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST! If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!
Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.
Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.