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Can I Get Veterans Benefits While I am Working?

Published on June 20th, 2019

Many disabled veterans believe that they cannot receive their benefits if they continue working, but this is not true. In fact, you can receive veterans disability compensation benefits that you are entitled to while you work, even if you are rated as 100 percent disabled. The only time you face restrictions on employment is when you are rated as unable to work due to Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, “IU” or “TDIU.”   Even then, you are only prohibited from “substantial gainful employment,” which means that you can still engage in many types of part time work.

You Can Almost Always Continue Working If You Are Receiving Disability Compensation

There are two ways the VA can rate your level of disability. Usually, veterans are rated according to the schedular method, in which the VA takes in consideration the severity of all of your conditions, and assigns you a rating between 0 and 100 percent. Even with severe disabilities, it is very rare to obtain a 100 percent disability rating under this method.  However, if you do receive a 100 percent VA disability rating, there are no legal restrictions on your ability to work within your physical and emotional limits.

The alternative to the schedular disability rating is total disability based on individual unemployability, or TDIU. The cash benefits you can receive are the same as with a 100 percent disability rating. The application process for this type of disability compensation requires that you show that you are unable to work, or that if you are able to work, the accommodations required basically make you unemployable. If you qualify for this type of disability benefit, you are prohibited from engaging in “substantial gainful employment.” But you can still do what the VA calls “marginal employment.”

How Does the VA Define Marginal Employment?

The basic test for what constitutes marginal versus substantially gainful employment is whether your job puts you over the poverty threshold, which is currently at $12,490 annually for a single person home. If you are on TDIU, you can still perform marginal employment as long as the earnings are under that poverty line. And if you work in a protected environment, such as a family business or a sheltered workshop, you may still be able to continue to work even if your earnings are above the poverty line. The VA reviews these cases of marginal employment on an individual basis.

If you are self employed, showing that employment is marginal is more difficult because you usually control the amount of work and revenue that you receive. But if you can show that your disability directly affects the amounts you can earn from self-employment, you may still be able to qualify for TDIU. For example, if you have back pain and poor eyesight that keep you from taking on as many contracting jobs as you used to, or doing other kinds of self employment, then you may still be able to convince the VA that you are engaging only in marginal employment.

How a Veterans Disability Compensation Lawyer Can Help

If you are claiming disability benefits based on individual unemployability, do not rush to quit your job if you can still handle it. In many cases, marginal employment won’t negatively affect your application. In some cases, your employment could even bolster your application. Statements from your employer about how your disability affects your job performance and requires accommodations can help make the case that you deserve TDIU.

An experienced veterans lawyer can improve your chances of obtaining benefits by supporting your disability compensation application with solid evidence. Your military service, your medical records, and employment information need to be clearly presented and articulated in a way that will convince the VA to grant you compensation. If you have been denied your disability compensation, call Jackson MacNichol today at 800-524-3339 to learn how our veterans lawyers work with veterans across the country to help you get the compensation you deserve.


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