What is a “Total Disability Rating Based on Individual Unemployability”?
If a veteran’s service-connected disabilities preclude him or her from securing a substantially gainful employment, the VA has the authority to pay the veteran at the 100% rate, even if the veteran’s service-connected disabilities don’t “add up” to 100%. This benefit is called a “total disability rating based on individual unemployability,” or a TDIU.
Generally, receipt of a TDIU requires that the veteran have (1) a single disability rated as 60% disabling, or (2) a combined rating of 70%, with at least one disability rated as at least 40% disabling. The VA will often turn down a veteran’s request for a TDIU if the veteran does not meet these requirements.
What is “Extraschedular TDIU”?
However, the law does allow VA to grant a TDIU to veterans who do not meet either one of those two rating requirements. Specifically, a VA rule states:
It is the established policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs that all veterans who are unable to secure and follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of service-connected disabilities shall be rated totally disabled.
This is called “extraschedular TDIU.”
Unfortunately, there are a few more hoops to jump through for veterans who seek “extraschedular TDIU” as opposed to those going the more traditional route. Although the VA rule allows for the benefit, the case must be forwarded from the regional office (or the Board, depending on the status of the appeal) to the director of the Compensation and Pension Service, who will review the case and determine whether a 100% rating should be assigned. So a veteran seeking “extraschedular TDIU” needs to first demonstrate to the regional office that service-connected conditions keep him or her out of work, and then the director must agree that payment at the 100% rate is warranted. There’s an extra layer, because veterans who meet the required rating requirement can have their TDIU claim approved by the regional office adjudicator without further adjudication.
It’s still useful, though, to many veterans who can’t work but don’t have a high enough rating to get a TDIU. Often, I see veterans struggling with back and neck injuries who have mostly worked in physical jobs and can’t anymore, but their ratings are too low for a TDIU. It may be worth asking for “extraschedular TDIU” in these kinds of cases. Be sure to ask for “extraschedular TDIU” consideration if you think you are entitled to the benefit, because VA may not automatically consider you for it.
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