Skip to content

March 27, 2019

Total Disability Individual Unemployment: 3 Myths & Facts

Last updated on December 20, 2022

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

Did you know that there are actually a lot of myths following Total Disability Individual Unemployment (TDIU) today? We want to take some time to do a little myth-busting and explain the facts behind TDIU’s!

Total Disability Individual Unemployment

As creatures of habit, we sometimes tend to rely on others for information rather than a follow-up to confirm the information is correct and accurate. During this month’s VFW meeting the topic of Total Disability Individual Unemployment (TDIU) and Social Security came up and you wouldn’t believe the back and forth discussions that came out.

Total Disability Individual Unemployment Requirements

First, they couldn’t agree on the TDIU eligibility requirements:

Myth #1

“You have to be rated at a total of 70% disability or above to qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployment.”

Fact – Eligibility comes in two parts:

Part I

a. You must obtain a rating of 60% or more for 1 service-connected disability

b. Or have a combined rating of 70% or more between two service-connected conditions with one of the conditions rated at 40% or higher.

Part II

Based on your service-connected conditions you are unable to hold a steady job that supports you financially.

Both parts have to be met in order to qualify for the entitlement.

What is Considered Entitlement?

Before I discuss the “entitlement” portion of the Total Disability Individual Unemployment benefit, the VFW discussion intensified when they couldn’t decide if you were able to work or not work while receiving the TDIU benefit.

Myth #2

“You can’t work if you receive TDIU!” “I mean, the word “Unemployment” is in the title of the benefit so it must be true”. Followed by a few vulgar words

Fact – Part II of the Total Disability Individual Unemployment eligibility highlights if you are unable to hold a “steady job.” The VA defines a steady job as substantially gainful employment. However, odd jobs or marginal employment doesn’t count. Marginal means that you have an annual income of less than the poverty level (average $11K to $12K).

It doesn’t stop there. According to Chisholm, Chisholm, & Kilpatrick (CCK, 2019) Veterans who receive TDIU can also earn above the poverty line utilizing a “protected work environment” and still retain the TDIU benefit. A protected work environment means the employer is willing to make significant accommodations that excuse the veteran from specific duties without penalty.

Meaning the veteran will receive the same rate of pay as his or her counterparts regardless of performance.

Who Does this Apply to?

For example, a veteran with severe PTSD and hypersomnolence prefers to work from home because of the embarrassment of falling asleep at work and the stress that amplifies PTSD symptoms. The employer honors the accommodation and limits the performance standards to ease the stress and retains the same amount of pay as their colleagues.

The VA may classify this scenario as “marginal employment.” The protected work environment is not a home run by any means, but one to keep in your back pocket just in case you need to justify exceeding the annual poverty line income as a veteran collecting Total Disability Individual Unemployment.

Now back to the entitlement piece. If anything uplifts my spirits, it’s watching a melting pot of different Armed Service Veterans talk smack about something they know little about.

Funny thing is, they passed along the same bad info to each other and it begins to morph into what we use to call a “hot mess” who knows what the kids are calling it these days, but it’s outstanding entertainment. Of course, they couldn’t agree on the entitlement piece.

Free Dental

Myth #3

“I heard your rating automatically goes to 100% and then you’ll receive free dental.”

Now, as a veteran who has a 100% rating, I can speak on behalf of the free dental care I receive at the VA. However, prior to being considered 100% disabled, I had a TMJ rating of 30% which earned me a spot for free dental services right alongside those triple digits. Enough about me let’s get back into TDIU.     

Fact – A veteran who’s awarded TDIU will be compensated at a disability rating of 100% even though their combined rating does not equate to 100%. However, keep in mind that TDIU may not be considered permanent and total and may be subject to re-examination.   

So the next time you’re ever a fly-on-the-wall at your local VFW and the TDIU topic arises and the barrack lawyers begin to shout. Bust out the facts with confidence and watch your street cred increase! Have additional questions or think that you qualify? Reach out! We would love to begin talking with you!

How to Get 100% Total and Permanent Disability VA [NEW!]

Deserve a HIGHER VA Rating? WE CAN HELP.

Join our premier education-based membership program, VA Claims Insider Elite, connect with an expert-level Veteran Coach (VC) within minutes, and finally get the rating you deserve. Click the button below to start for FREE.

About the Author

About VA Claims Insider

VA Claims Insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible independent medical opinions and nexus statements (medical nexus letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

Related Articles

How Do I Track My VA Claim?

How Do I Track My VA Claim?

March 27, 2024

So, you’ve filed your VA claim or appeal and now you want to track the status of your VA claim. In this short article, Brian Reese the VA Claims Insider explains the top 3 ways to check your VA... continue reading

Featured Resources

Elite Membership

Dear Veteran,
Here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

  1. Complete Basic Information
  2. Sign Members Agreement
  3. Join the Mastermind Group

If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

Go Elite Now!

Why Choose VA Claims Insider

You’ve exhausted your free resources

You're not alone. Thousands of other Veterans in our Community are here for you.

Veteran Community

You’re ready to get the rating you deserve

We know the pain of feeling stuck, frustrated, and alone, and we want to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you.

Explore Elite Membership

We win ONLY when YOU win

Hear from fellow Veterans just like you, with many of our Veteran Ambassadors having gone through our programs.

Schedule a Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call

Fellow Veterans:

For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

Book A Call