VA Disability Claims – Total Disability Ratings Based On Unemployability

If you’re a vet, and you’ve filed a claim for veterans’ service connected disability, I’m sure you are at least somewhat familiar with the VA’s rating schedules.  You know all about ratings of 10%, 20%, 50% and 100%.  But did you know some veterans can be paid at the 100% rate even though their ratings do not combine to a 100% rate?

A total disability rating (100%) may be assigned where a veteran is not rated at 100% but is unable to perform a substantially gainful job.  In other words, a veteran can get paid at the 100% rate if he or she is unable to work due to service connected disabilities.

Veterans’ disability lawyers like me often refer to this as total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU).  I often hear vets refer to this as IU (individual unemployability) or simply as “unemployability.”  All these phrases mean the same thing so don’t let the small differences in terms cause you any concern.

So how do you show you meet the requirements for unemployability?  This is admittedly an oversimplification, but you have to first show you can’t work because of your service connected disabilities.  Second, your service connected disabilities must satisfy certain percentage rating requirements as follows:

  • If a veteran has only one service connected disability, the disability rating must be 60% or higher, or
  • If a veteran has two or more service connected disabilities, at least one disability must be rated at 40% and the combined disability rating must be 70% or more.

Tip:  You may still qualify for unemployability even if you do not have one disability rated at 40%.  This gets a little complicated but here’s the main idea.  It is possible in some situations to combine ratings to meet the 40% requirement if the disabilities affect both arms, both legs, result from a single accident, affect a single body system, result from multiple injuries incurred in action, or were incurred as a prisoner of war.

This is a very brief and simple explanation of individual unemployability.  This is one area that can get fairly complicated pretty quick.  If you have any questions about individual unemployability or would just like to speak with a veterans’ disability lawyer, feel free to give me a call at (304) 842-8383 or fill out the contact form to the right to send me a message.  As always, the consultation is free of charge.   

Travis Miller helps people throughout West Virginia, including the following cities:

  • Bridgeport
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  • Harrisville
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