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January 8, 2024

VA Unemployability Income Limits 2024

Last updated on March 6, 2024

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.

If you have Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) and want a better idea of what the VA unemployability income limits 2024 will be, then you’re in the right place!

You should also stick around if you don’t have TDIU, but your service-connected disability keeps you from maintaining a full-time job.

This post will analyze and break down:

  • VA TDIU income limits
  • What is TDIU
  • How to qualify for TDIU
  • How to apply for TDIU benefits

Let’s get into it!



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VA Unemployability Income Limits 2024

VA unemployability income limits 2024 have not yet been released.

In fact, the 2023 income limits have not yet been released either.

This is because the US Census Bureau has not yet released their 2024 or 2023 poverty thresholds, which is the only poverty threshold the VA uses to establish TDIU income limits.

However, we can look at the 2022 TDIU income limits to get a better picture of what the 2023 and 2024 TDIU income limits may be. 

We can do this because TDIU income limits are adjusted for the cost of living, just like many other VA benefits are.

As inflation and, therefore, the cost of living rises, the poverty thresholds that establish VA unemployability income limits also rise.

Read our blog VA Increase 2024 [Quick Guide] to learn how other VA benefits are impacted by the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) issued by the Social Security Administration.

Why Income Limits Matter

The VA uses income limits as part of its TDIU eligibility criteria.

If your annual income is above these limits, that means you meet one-half of the definition of what’s called “substantially gainful employment,” which we talk about more later in this post.

If you can maintain substantially gainful employment, then you aren’t eligible for TDIU.

2022 TDIU Income Limits

The VA uses the US Census Bureau poverty threshold for one person as the TDIU income limit:

  • One person (unrelated individual): $14,880
  • Under 65 years: $15,230
  • 65 years and over: $14,040

If your annual income is above the applicable limit, then you likely aren’t eligible for TDIU.


2023 TDIU Income Limits

Although the US Census Bureau has not yet released their 2023 poverty threshold for one person, we think it will be close to $14,580.

This figure comes from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). The ASPE is an advisory office to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Although it is an official governmental office, the VA does not use its poverty thresholds. Again, the VA only uses the US Census Bureau thresholds.

We can also use the Social Security Administration Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) to make an educated guess.

The 2023 COLA was a massive 8.9%. If we increase the 2022 limits by this percentage, we get:

  • One person (unrelated individual): $16,204
  • Under 65 years: $16,585
  • 65 years and over: $15,289

2024 TDIU Income Limits (Projected)

Based on our estimation of the official 2023 TDIU income limits, we can make an educated guess about the 2024 limits using the 2024 COLA.

The 2024 COLA is 3.2%.

Based on that, here’s what we could see for the 2024 TDIU income limits:

  • One person (unrelated individual): $16,722
  • Under 65 years: $17,115
  • 65 years and over: $15,778

Again, these are only projections and are based on a 3.2% increase.


What is TDIU?

If your service-connected disability keeps you from working, Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) allows the VA to pay you at the 100% disability rate, even if you don’t have a disability rated at 100%.

The purpose of TDIU is to account for the limitations of the VA rating schedule.

See, the rating criteria the VA uses to evaluate service-connected disabilities can’t always account for the total impact your symptoms have on your life.

For example: Say you have a service-connected condition rated at 60% that keeps you from sitting for long periods of time.

If you make your living as a truck driver, then this condition would obviously interfere with your ability to do your job. You might even have to quit.

This is where TDIU comes in.

With TDIU, you can receive monthly compensation at the 100% rating level so that you can still provide for yourself and your family as long as you’re unable to work.

TDIU Eligibility

To be approved for TDIU benefits, you need to meet both of these requirements:

  1. Be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment because of your service-connected disability.
  2. Have one disability rated at 60% or higher OR a combined disability rating of at least 70% with one condition rated at 40% or higher.

What is Substantially Gainful Employment?

Substantially gainful employment is any job that pays above the poverty threshold for one person established by the US Census Bureau  and is not “protected.”

Jobs considered “protected” are jobs that aren’t competitive and that you will likely never lose. 

For example: A job at a family company created specifically for you that you will likely never be fired from is a protected job.

Read our blog, What is Substantially Gainful Employment? to learn more.

Can You Receive TDIU and Still Work?

Yes! As long as the job doesn’t qualify as substantially gainful employment.

Your TDIU benefits are not affected by anything considered marginally gainful employment.

Marginally gainful employment is defined as any job that does not pay above the VA TDIU income limits.

For example: If you mow lawns on weekends for some extra cash, you’re more than welcome to keep that job (as long as it doesn’t earn more than your applicable VA TDIU income limit).

How to Apply for TDIU Benefits

To apply for TDIU benefits, you first need to file a VA claim for disability benefits.

If the VA awards you a rating and you meet the criteria, you can then be considered for TDIU.

To determine if you’re able to maintain substantially gainful employment, the VA will investigate your employment history and education history. You’ll need to submit VA Form 21-8940 and VA Form 21-4192 as part of the application process.

If the VA determines your service-connected disabilities keep you from maintaining substantially gainful employment, and that you have no other employment options, you could be awarded TDIU benefits.

Read our blog, VA Individual Unemployability Fact Sheet [2024] to learn more.


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