A Total Disability Based on Unemployability of the Individual (TDIU) claim is a claim that you submit when you are not 100% disabled under the VA rating schedule but you are unable to maintain substantial gainful employment.
There are two major requirements for making a successful TDIU claim. The first requirement is a threshold service-connected disability rating. The second requirement is that you are unable to “secure or follow substantial gainful occupation.”
Under the first requirement, you must show either that:
- If you have only one service-connected disability, your disability can be rated at 60% or more; OR
- If you have multiple service-connected disabilities, at least one of your disabilities can be rated at 40% or more and the remainder of your disabilities brings the combined disability rating to 70% or more.
The examination of the second requirement of whether you are capable of “substantial gainful occupation” boils down the VA investigating whether you are capable of working an occupation that provides you with an income that exceeds the poverty threshold irrespective of the number of hours or days that you actually work.
The easy part of bringing a TDIU claim really seems to be calculating the minimum thresholds for the disability ratings. The second half of presenting this type of claim is where things get downright unfair. If you are unable to work, the VA can try to avoid granting you TDIU by stating that you are capable of performing some other “type” of work even if that work is not available in your community. Of course, this is really convenient since the VA has no obligation to consider the availability of work in your community. On the other hand, if you do find some marginal employment, the VA can use that as proof that you are capable of working.
Needless to say, TDIU claims are tricky. Proceed carefully!