A Quick Guide to Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Benefits
When a service-connected disability prevents a veteran from working, VA is authorized to pay that veteran at the 100 percent rate, even if the veteran’s overall combined rating is less than 100 percent. This is called total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU).
Scheduler TDIU BenefitsThe most common method of obtaining TDIU benefits is to meet the VA's "percentage requirements" for scheduler TDIU. This means a veteran must have either (i) one service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or more, or (ii) two or more service-connected disabilities rated at 40 percent or more, and a combined rating of 70 percent or more. If a veteran can show he or she meets either of these requirements, along with a showing that he or she cannot secure or maintain a substantially gainful occupation because of a service-connected disability, then the veteran is entitled to scheduler TDIU benefits.
Extraschedular TDIU BenefitsEven if a veteran doesn't meet the "percentage requirements" for an award of scheduler TDIU benefits, the VA can still award TDIU on an extraschedular basis. Award of extraschedular TDIU benefits requires a finding that a "veteran's case presents such an exceptional or unusual disability picture with such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization as to render impractical the application of the regular scheduler standards." The bottom line is that a veteran should apply for TDIU benefits if he or she has a service-connected disability that prevents them from working.
Inferred Claims for TDIUWhen a veteran files an original claim or a claim for an increased rating, the veteran is presumed to be making a claim for the highest benefit allowable. This means that if a veteran's claims file indicates the veteran may be unemployable, then the Regional Office of jurisdiction is required to consider and adjudicate a claim for TDIU. It's very common for the VA to miss or ignore inferred claims for TDIU, so it's important to have an attorney who specializes in VA disability review your VA claims file to determine whether you may have an outstanding inferred claim for TDIU benefits. If so, it may be possible to obtain backpay going to the date when the inferred claim arose.