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Can I be Working and Receive Individual Unemployability Benefits?

Published on October 8th, 2019

One of the common misconceptions about veterans disability compensation is that you cannot work if you receive individual unemployability benefits. But in fact, you can work even if you are rated as totally disabled for individual unemployability, which is also called TDIU or simply IU. The only requirement is that your earnings do not put you over the poverty level, or that you work in a protected environment with significant accommodations.

The problem is that the VA often removes people from TDIU after finding out about their work. In many cases, this is wrong. Fortunately, a veterans benefits lawyer from Jackson & MacNichol may be able to successfully contest this decision. If you have lost your TDIU status because of employment, call us today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation.

You Can Still Engage in Marginal Employment If You Receive TDIU

There are two paths to receiving 100% disability payments–either your service related medical conditions add up to 100% under the VA’s rating schedule, or the VA determines that your service related injuries make you unable to work–unemployable–in which case you can be granted TDIU benefits. Generally, your service related medical conditions must add up to at least a 60% disability for you to qualify for TDIU, but there are some exceptions, which are determined ona case-by-case basis.

What’s confusing is that although a TDIU rating means that you are unemployable, it does not mean that you cannot work at all. Instead, the law says that you cannot engage in “substantially gainful employment,” which means that you can still engage in marginal employment. The marginal employment requirement can mean either of two things:

  • You cannot make more than the poverty level, which is $12,490 if you are under the age of 65
  • You can make more than the poverty level, but you must work in a protected environment such as a family business or a place of employment that provides you with significant accomodations not given to other employees.

These subtleties are sometimes lost on the staff of the VA, who may receive a report on your earnings and determine that you are no longer eligible for TDIU. But if you can provide sufficient proof that you are receiving enough accommodations because of your disability, that you work from home or in a family business, or that your earnings do not cross the poverty threshold, the VA in many cases should legally keep you on TDIU.

Maximize Your Disability Compensation With the Help of a Veterans Benefits Lawyer

Many veterans simply accept the VA’s decision to deny their TDIU claims. Going up against the administration to prove that you are deserving of TDIU can be a difficult task, but that’s what the veterans benefits lawyers of Jackson & MacNichol are here for. We can gather the evidence needed to prove your case and then advocate on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. If you don’t want to give up on your disability compensation without a fight, call us today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation.


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