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What Is VA Individual Unemployability?

Tucker Law Group
January 18, 2017

Listen as Veteran’s Disability attorney John V. Tucker explains individual unemployability and how it can increase your VA benefits.

When you are a Veteran, you may not be aware that the Veteran’s Affairs office may not cover all of your disabilities. Individual unemployability is what’s called an extra-scheduler rating. It allows you to get up to a 100 percent rating, even when your other disabilities don’t add up to 100 percent. This means you can have your disabilities 100 percent covered. If you can’t work due to service-connected disabilities, you may be able to have the VA pay you as if you have a 100 percent rating.

The way you get individual unemployability is to file a claim. Any claim that you file should include an evaluation of your unemployability, in which you would tell them that you are unable to work because of your service-connected disability. When doing this, you are going to want to make sure you file the VA 218940 form and send it in. Be sure to send it in a way that provides you with clear evidence of the day that you sent in the claim and the day they received it.

The VA will tell you there is only one way to approve unemployability, but there are two. You can meet the approval guideline by either meeting the combined rating required or by having a rating that is under the national poverty level. In 2016, that level is under $1000 per month for a single person, and that goes up when you add marriage and children.

Two other things to understand: You’ll want to know that TDUI stands for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability. You’ll also want to understand that you can receive Social Security Disability in addition to your VA benefit, which will help prove your TDIU claim. Having an attorney can help you to navigate these confusing waters. Watch the video to learn more.

If you have questions about VA individual unemployability, I want you to call me at (866) 233-5044. I welcome your call.

Video Transcript
VA individual unemployability - What is it? I'm John Tucker, I'm a VA disability attorney and I represent veterans like you in service-connected compensation claims all across the United States. I was recently giving a lecture to other attorneys at a national veterans law conference about something called individual unemployability and I thought this would be a really good topic to tell veterans like you about.

It's important because the VA doesn't always cover all of your disabilities. Individual unemployability is what's called an extra schedular rating. It's a way to get a high percentage, 100% actually, even when your schedule ratings for your particular disabilities don't combine up to 100%. What that means is if you can't work because of your service-connected disabilities, you can apply to the VA and ask them to pay you as if you were rated at 100% based on individual unemployability.

Now the way you do that, typically under the law, is to just get a clean started. Any claim you file whether it is one for service connection or one for an increased rating for even one condition should include by the VA of whether you're unemployable. So you would tell them that you're not able to work because of that service-connected condition. But in the VA's infinite wisdom they always do things that really don't comply with the law. They’ve made a form, and I'm sure that surprises you, it's called the VA 21 8940, the 8940. That 21-8940 is how you start an unemployability claim, according to VA. Now they may be wrong under the law but you need to file the form anyway. So if you haven't done so, get a 21-8940 off the web, fill it out and send it in. Send it in some way you can prove that got it and the date that they got it.

The VA is going to tell you that they will only approve unemployability if you're rated at a combined rating that's at a certain level. That's actually not true, there's two ways to get unemployability. You can have the rating at a combined level at that certain level that's required but they also have to look at unemployability even if you're below that level.

The most important thing for you to understand is if you are service-connected conditions prevent you from working above the poverty level, VA may have to pay you individual unemployability. And by the way, poverty level for this year is right or under $1,000 per month for a single person and it goes up from there if you're married or you have children. Two other brief things that I want you to understand, you'll hear TDIU, that stands for total disability based on individual unemployability, so if you see that abbreviation that acronym TDIU that's what we're talking about.

The other thing I want you to understand is you can get social security disability in addition to your VA benefit so if you qualified for social security disability or you qualify in the future that can help you prove a TDIU claim. I'm sure you may have some questions about getting individual unemployability benefits and if you do pick up the phone and call the number on your screen. I'd be happy to talk with you about your claim to see if you're eligible for TDIU. Thank you for taking the time to watch. I'm John Tucker.