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How Does the VA Determine Marginal Employment for TDIU?

Published on January 3rd, 2020

Total Disability for Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, is an alternate route to getting the same veterans disability compensation as someone who has received a 100 percent disability rating. TDIU gives you these same amount of benefits even if you have a lower disability rating. The key is proving that you are unemployable under the VA’s definition. It’s not obvious but you may still qualify for TDIU even if you have a job. 

TDIU is a complex area of veterans benefits law, and sometimes even VA staff get the law wrong when deciding whether to award these benefits. If you believe that you have been wrongly denied access to TDIU, veterans disability compensation lawyer can help. At Jackson & MacNichol, we can review the evidence in your case and file an appeal on your behalf to get you the benefits that you deserve. Call us today at 1 (800) 524-3339 for a free consultation about appealing an unfavorable TDIU decision.

TDIU and Marginal Employment Decisions Are Based on Several Factors

If you are unable to work at the substantially gainful employment level because of your disability, then you may qualify for TDIU without having to prove marginal employment. Substantially gainful employment is any competitive employment that provides you with earnings that push you over the poverty threshold. For 2019, the poverty threshold is $12,490 in gross earnings for the whole year. If you make more than that per year from your job, however, you may still qualify for TDIU by showing that you are engaged in marginal employment.

The VA may find marginal employment if your disability requires you to work less than half of the usual hours, or if you receive less than one half of the usual wages of other people engaged in the same profession. But this is only the basic definition of marginal employment. Even if the you do not meet this basic definition, the VA could find that you are engaged in marginal employment if:

  • You work in a job that is traditionally held by older or disabled persons, such a toll booth operator
  • You work in a sheltered workshop
  • You work for a family business
  • You receive extraordinary accomodations at your place of work
  • You are self-employed and your work history shows a significant decrease in your productivity and earnings

When reviewing marginal employment cases, the VA staff is not supposed to look at a single factor, but to look at your whole situation. They should also consider your education, training, and the economic opportunities available to you and the other people in your community.

A Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Help You Qualify for TDIU

Unfortunately, poorly trained or overworked VA employees often make errors when deciding TDIU claims. Sometimes, they will only look at your earnings, and assume that if you are above the poverty level, you do not qualify for TDIU. These decisions are wrong, and can and should be appealed. At Jackson & MacNichol, we are ready to help you stand up to the VA and get the compensation you need. If you want to appeal the denial of your TDIU claim, call us today at 1 (800) 524-3339 and we’ll help you get justice.


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