Individual Unemployment: Understanding the Basics - VA News (2023)

As a VA claims adjuster, I am often asked by veterans about individual unemployment (IU), also known as total disability based on individual unemployment (TDIU). The following is a more formal version of what I'm telling you.

What is IU?

Individual unemployment allows the VA to pay certain veterans with 100 percent disability even if their service-connected disability is not classified as a 100 percent disability. Veterans may be eligible for this rating upgrade if they are either unemployed or unable to continue substantial gainful employment due to their service-connected disability (or disabilities).

What is essential employment?

Substantial professional work is simply full-time employment that provides a salary above the poverty line. (Note: In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau consideredan annual salary corresponding to the poverty line$12,316 for someone under age 65.) For example, if a veteran is trained to drive a truck but is unable to work because of service-related back and stomach problems, he or she may be eligible for IU.

Individual Unemployment: Understanding the Basics - VA News (1)Are there other entry requirements?

To qualify for IU, you must have one of the following:

1) a disability rating of 60 percent or more based on an individual service-related disability, or

2) a 70 percent combined disability rating based on multiple service-connected disabilities with at least one disability rated at 40 percent or more.

In these cases, VA will consider a veteran's eligibility for IU if there is evidence that he or she is unable to work due to service-connected disabilities. In either case, the VA reviews all the evidence collected and determines whether a veteran's disability law, severe enough to give IU.

Let's take a hypothetical situation. Suppose a veteran claims he can't work and doesn't understand why he can't get an IU. He is in medical treatment 30 percent for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 10 percent for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Because the veteran has only two service-connected disabilities, both the veteran's post-traumatic stress disorder and irritable bowel syndrome must be assessed at a higher combined rateAndThis may be why he cannot work to get IE.

How is the way the VA decides total disability different from other agencies?

The Act prescribes different criteria for other public authorities that process claims for disability benefits. ThatSocial Security AdministrationFor example, an applicant must be totally disabled, taking into account age, education and previous work experience, to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. VA only considers service-connected disabilities when considering eligibility for IU, and those disabilities must be the reason the veteran is unable to continue working. IU is intended to compensate veterans who are unable to work due to a service-connected disability or disability that does not meet the requirements of the VA Rating Schedule for a 100 percent overall rating.

If you think you fall into this category, I encourage you to work with a veterans service organization, a state or county service officer, or contact your public relations team at your nearest regional office. You can also find more information on our IU website, I'm also happy to answer your questions in the comments section.

Individual Unemployment: Understanding the Basics - VA News (2)Dominique Joseph is a claims adjuster at the Appeals Management Center and the daughter of a disabled veteran.

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  1. Robert E. hendricksonMarch 24, 2015 at 10.35

    Hello. I am in? It's about claims. Why am I being denied a claim that was knowingly evidence of such a claim? and I was awarded 30% on 3 claims within a claim that lasted about two years. before ... please answer and possibly p.o.c. ## .. Thank you

  2. Stephan MooreMarch 23, 2015 at 18.53

    I was also just thinking about this question: If I accepted a home office job or any other job, would my non-service pension be lost? Would I get any benefits from this point?

  3. Stephan MooreMarch 23, 2015 at 18.50

    I am 50% off duty due to depression (I am considering an increase.) I am 10% off duty due to injuries. The only job I could possibly have would be working from home and I know I wouldn't be able to keep it up for very long. How do I apply for remuneration from TDIU as my current claim is pending but I am having difficulty making ends meet? I haven't had a job in years and I can't drive. Please advise.

  4. RichardMarch 21, 2015 at 14.07

    I currently have a rating of 60% for bronchial asthma, 40% TBI with post-traumatic headache, 10% gastroesophageal reflux disease, 40% lumbar paravertebral myositis with L4-L5 disc protrusion, L5-S1 lumbar DJD, 10% clinical left L5 and S1 radiculopathy . Diagnosed were obstructive sleep apnea not yet associated with service, HBP and supraventricular tachycardia. I work full time with the USPS but have poor attendance records due to my health conditions. Can I qualify for IU?
    I am having heart surgery in April to try and fix my tachycardia problem.

  5. Christopher FudgeMarch 20, 2015 at 19.35

    I have an overall rating of 90% and a rating of 60% for a spinal cord mass. I was recently denied an IU in Florida because an examiner assessed my neurological damage after surgery. And the results of an MRI without my neurologist actually examining it for his readings. I would like to know if it is wise to apply for IE and get an actual VSO to help me as I have pain and migraines that keep me at home most days. Unlike this last time when it obviously failed me.

  6. Christopher FudgeMarch 20, 2015 at 19.20

    I recently applied to IU in Florida. I have an overall SC rating of 90% and a dustabilization factor of 60%. Although I met all the criteria set by the VRO and the decision maker, I was denied admission based on the examiner's claims. Since I originally submitted my IU application in March 2014, the symptoms have gotten worse. Would it be wise to just add the other symptoms and appeal with a more helpful VSO than the pre-spinal biopsy?

  7. Joe D. HinsonMarch 20, 2015 at 9:19

    Dominique, thanks, that's the information I'm looking for. After reading your post about individual unemployment, I have a question. Let's say a veteran has an overall rating of 90% and several disabilities, one of which is 50% Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and another 40% due to a spinal cord injury. If he is eligible for IU, he will be paid the 100% rate. My question; Is this only for 100% compensation or is this veteran also eligible for other 100% benefits such as: B. Support for education of dependents?
    Joe Hinson

  8. STEPHEN PLANCHONMarch 18, 2015 at 2:26 p.m

    DOMINIQUE, I HAVE BEEN FIGHTING A CLAIM FOR OVER 7 YEARS. I AM CURRENTLY 50% RECOVERED FOR A SHOULDER INJURY SUFFERED WHILE ON BUSINESS. I spent 10 years in the USAF. I WAS IN VIETNAM IN 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975. I HAVE FILED A CLAIM FOR HBP, ARTERIAL DISEASE, TYPE II DIABETES, NEUROPATHY, PTSD, SEVERE SLEEP APNEA, ALL RELATED TO EXPOSURE TO ORANGE. After waiting three years for my claim to be reviewed, it was denied. THEIR STATEMENT WAS THEY HAVE NO PROOF I WAS EVER IN VIETNAM. After two months of digging, I found 48 pages of orders detailing my service in Vietnam. I sent these to my DAV representative and was told we would appeal. AFTER another almost 3 years, my claim was due for review again. IT WAS RE-FILED BECAUSE NO NEW EVIDENCE WAS AVAILABLE. They said the doctors had not included a formal illness diagnosis in my records and would deny my claim again. I went to my family doctor and my PTSD doctor and asked them if they could add my diagnosis to my records. They showed me where they had previously diagnosed me and that the VA must have just missed it. YOU HAVE REGISTERED THE DIAGNOSIS IN MY DOCUMENTATION. I have been treated and given medication for these diseases for more than 6 years. I now have to appeal again and have had no reply or response for months. I contacted my congressman to see if there was anything he could do to at least get them to look into my claim. IT'S BEEN OVER 2 MONTHS NOW AND NO RESPONSE FROM ANYONE. It has gotten to the point where I can hardly manage my work anymore, because in my job as regional manager I drive 60,000 to 80,000 a year. I have five places that I take care of but can barely do. I suffer from leg pain for days due to Diabetic NEUROPATHY and when I get home I suffer the sleepless Knights of Pain starting over the next day to pay my bills and provide for my family. The only other alternative I see is to hire a lawyer and see what they can do. DO YOU HAVE A BETTER SOLUTION?

  9. Lana GarciaMarch 18, 2015 at 14.17

    Is there a deadline for applying for individual unemployment?

  10. Michael JarrettMarch 18, 2015 at 11:49

    Dear Dominique, I am now rated at 70% and have two work-related disabilities. 1 for the lower back with residues of 50% and 2. for the ball of the left foot with 20%.
    The scenario you described about the trained truck driver applies to me. I lost my job because I could not go to work because of my back problem and because by law a driver with a back problem cannot pass the DOT exam and therefore cannot drive a commercial vehicle. The employer also cited insurance liability as the reason for the job loss.
    I was recently denied an IU. But because of my back problems I got a 20% increase. I was also denied treatment for tinnitus due to the lack of service records to link to the service. My official medical records were not found by the VA or by myself.
    Should I appeal this claim for IU and/or tinnitus?
    Should I also try to get an explanation of the reason for my job loss from my former employer?
    I am very grateful for any information you can give me.
    Thank you,
    Michael Jarrett

  11. Andrew HarwoodMarch 17, 2015 at 14.10

    I HAVE A COMPLAINT FROM AUGUST 2012 DIABETES AND DIABETIC NEUROPATHY. I heard from Scuttlebutt that the appeals process is now expected to take five years! I went to my GP for an updated evaluation of my neuropathy. Would it be wise to contact the VSO responsible for my complaint details and submit this latest evidence or would that just muddy the waters so to speak?


  12. Katie ConnolleyMarch 16, 2015 at 15.25

    Hi Dominique,

    I have to submit my papers for IU tomorrow, but I'm having trouble figuring out what happens AFTER IU is approved. There is a lot of information on how to apply and requirements, but I'm still not sure about the specifics of post-approval for an IU. If you could help me master some of these I would be very grateful.

    Thank you!

    Katie C .

  13. Alfred LuttonMarch 16, 2015 at 12.21

    Hi, I was wondering if I can get a copy of my award letter stating that I am 100% e-benefits

  14. Thomas H. CarsonMarch 15, 2015 at 21.34

    When I was released in 1966 because of a stomach and back injury, I applied for disability. I was rated 20% for the stomach but not for the back as there was no evidence of it in my record. (My records were lost when I was transferred from Fort Dix to Germany by the record keeper in January 1964. A number of records were lost.) In 2003 I resubmitted papers asking for morning reports of hospitalizations at Ft. submitted. Gordon in June 1963 and my MOS was changed from Infantry to Cook and Baker in July 1963. I was unable to lift, crawl, pull or carry any weight. The investigator concluded that the admission was due to my back, as it was speculation. I was awarded 100% IE in June 2003 because of my stomach but was rejected again because of my back disability. In 2010 I decided to write for the FT. Gordon Hospital asked if they had a record of my admission in June 1963. Three weeks later I received medical reports that I had sustained a back injury on May 30, 1963 during a training exercise. I resubmitted this information and was rejected again. I took all my medical records to three orthopedic surgeons who reviewed the evidence and they all said that my back injury most likely happened on May 30, 1963. I had two back surgeries in 1981 and 1986 and became unemployed in 2010 January 1992 because of my back .
    Conclusion: In December 2014, after 48 years, I finally got 100% health and accident insurance as well as a monthly bonus because I could no longer use my legs due to my back injury. I am dependent on an electric wheelchair and can neither walk nor stand.

    My question is, "Was the VA responsible (negligent) for checking with FT Hospital?" Gordon, Georgia for any medical records as I told them in my 2003 complaint that I was in Ft. Gordon and should my refund be from my 2003 claim and not the last time I submitted a new refund claim in December 2012 after receiving the paperwork?

  15. Shannon PowellMarch 14, 2015 at 10:20 p.m

    Can you work part time (making less than say $10,000 a year) and still get 100% due to unemployment?

  16. Julia BarneyMarch 13, 2015 at 05.28

    I applied for IU last July 14, 2014. There are also appeals going on, but right now I'm worried about IU. I don't understand why it's taking so long? I have not worked since July 2013. Right now I am 90% fit for: PTSD 50%, BAND STI 40%, BLADDER INJURY 40%, MIGRAINE HEADACHES 30%, ANKLE LIMITATION 20%, SKI NERVE PALSY
    20%, AR 0%. I had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm which gave me a lot of problems all over. Especially my back. Now I have bowel and urinary incontinence every day. I had failed spinal fusion surgery in 2013. My fear, pain and mental state is NOT GOOD!! I have NO QUALITY OF LIFE living with all these diseases. I tried to get help from all sources to include PVA. I was registered with social security as disabled in January 2014. Also, I have severe financial problems which lead to more stress and panic attacks. I understand why the suicide rate among veterans is so high. The VA doesn't care about the wounded veterans. What can I do to speed up the process of my IU? Can you help me ? Thank you Julia

  17. ClarenceMarch 12, 2015 at 20.42

    Hello. My name is Clarence, I am 80 percent combinable and have filed for IU related PTSD. I submitted this application in 2011 and have not yet been approved. What does it take for those who have not been in combat to know what a combat veteran goes through and conclude that they are not entitled to what they should be getting? I gave everything they asked for. Is it okay if someone tells you that you don't meet the criteria for IU? We did our best when asked, and if we ask for help now, someone has to decide if you qualify or not. Is it a right for the veterans who gave something to their country? Personally, I don't think so, but is it? just another veteran denied benefits.

  18. Herman Jermaine CoxMarch 12, 2015 at 19.58


    Two simple questions I hope. Thank you for posting the information about IU on Facebook and here on the VA website it seems that some of the questions veterans and their families have about it have been answered.

    My question is that in 2013 I made an IU application that was rejected and from the information you posted I could understand why. I am complaining as I write this. When I applied for IE I had 50% PTSD, 40% ridiculopathy (sp) in my back and 10% in each leg, for a total score of 90%. Since the appeal I now have 70% PTSD and the others have all remained the same.

    The question now is that I am 70% PTSD and the overall rating is 90%. Will the VA most likely deny the claim again or are the odds in his favor for me given the increase in PTSD?

  19. Jeff FarmerMarch 12, 2015 at 15.56

    This is a copy of what I sent to my GP at LBVA Hospital after he was offered a position as an intern at the Long Beach VA Hospital but then turned it down due to my medical issues! Good morning, I am sending this message because I am really sorry. I was recruited by LBVA Human Resources to work as a 'Medical Support Assistant'. I had a background check, fingerprinting and medical exam where I signed that I was medically unfit to do the job of "medical paramedic". I will be filing a complaint with upper management soon and am waiting to find out what medical disability disqualified me when I get a call back from the health care staff! This job meant a lot to me, I was so happy that I could go back to work and not have to do vocal rehab! You are my NP, do you think because of my medical issues I could not do the job as a "Physician's Assistant"? I can't check people in clinics, file cases, take calls or anything, I wasn't even told what job or area I would be working in, just that I was assigned to the health department and later called to tell me where /when I wanted to work! I mean they already knew I'm a disabled vet, 40% rating and 10 preference when they called me! So if they won't hire me knowing my disability, who will??? My wife was happy, I was happy, now that they do, they (VA) might as well put me 100% out of work if they couldn't even hire me!!! What annoys me is that the NP who initially saw me was not the normal one, she doesn't usually do these exams, she didn't ask me about my disabilities or medical issues, she got me for less than Saw money 10 minutes, so they called back and said i would check off the issues i had that were in the job description so i went back in and wrote them down i said i had OTC reading glasses on i am supposedly color blind like I missed 3 exams and that I can't kneel well because of the pain and my hip replacement. After I wrote them down she said wait and the regular NP would talk to me. Well she came over and said I was done and she didn't need to see me so I left! So I'm waiting for a call back from either the NP or the attending physician, Dr. Web! I'm sorry but this really pissed me off and hit me like a rock!!! Can you help me!! Jeff

  20. Yvette Venise KellyMarch 12, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I have 70% unemployment for PTSD and 10% for foot injuries, but I get 100% pay. Why am I denied special benefits if I apply for home care through the VA for Aide and Attendance? I have diabetes, bladder implant, full uterus, irritable bowel/Chrone's disease, lower back injury, possibly breast cancer, neuropathy.

  21. Larry MichalskiMarch 11, 2015 at 13.43

    Great info! I am a veteran with a 70% rating (2013). 10% tinnitus, 20% chronic back pain and 50% due to left ventricular dysfunction and bradycardia. I also receive SSD for a surgery I had on my neck (which the doctor screwed up and no doctor can fix in 2003) and applied for an IE in 2013. They denied it because I get SSD and said it's the only way I can get IE if a doctor determines that I am unable to work or unable to maintain employment. I also suffer from anxiety and depression attacks and PTSD.
    How can it be? Something doesn't seem right or doesn't make sense. Who can I talk to who can give me a clearer answer than my local VRO? He just doesn't seem to be up and running because my original VRO has moved on to bigger and better things (I show).

    • LarryMarch 19, 2015 at 21.44


  22. Wayne FranckMarch 11, 2015 at 12.50

    I receive IU with a rating of 100%. Is this a lifetime benefit?

  23. John ThomasMarch 11, 2015 at 01:32


    Thanks for your great columns.

    I was wondering if you could help me. I am 90% a SC veteran. I have 70% responders for post-traumatic stress disorder, 30% for keratoconus, a corneal disorder that leaves me with poor vision and unable to drive at night or in low light, and 30% for migraine headaches. I have to limit my time with visual activities, especially reading a computer screen or a newspaper, otherwise I get headaches and sometimes migraines. I never sleep more than 4 hours and often have nightmares as a result of the trauma my PTSD caused. For all these reasons and the panic attacks that came with them, I had to retire early from a job I loved. Should I bother applying for an IU? I really don't have the focus and energy to put together a detailed claim without help. Basically, my VA Doctor's Notes and my 4 C&P exams already paint a very accurate picture of the issues I have.


  24. Mark GlecklerMarch 10, 2015 at 23.43

    I received the decision letter from VLJ in DC giving me TDIU. I have waited almost six years for this decision. Now I am told that I have to wait a year or more before I receive my grant letter and receive any of these benefits. Why is it taking so long for the award letter and postal payment when I calculated it at 2 hours?

  25. Mark GilmanMarch 10, 2015 at 22.58

    My father is 100% disabled. He receives a monthly performance check. If he moved to a VA supported free nursing home, would he still receive his full monthly benefit?

  26. James B. ZelenakMarch 10, 2015 at 22.53

    I am classified as an 80% 70 PTSD 20 diabetic. Va another 70% I have a chance for IU

  27. Eric HogueMarch 10, 2015 at 22.19


    First of all, thanks for writing such a great article on this topic. I am writing to you because my local VSO has no idea, and neither does your boss at the regional office. I have an overall SC of 70%. One of the SC ratings is 10% for TBI and there are several others as well that bring my combined SC up to 70%. My boyfriend is also my caregiver through the VA Caregiver Support System. I am also affected by social security for the disabled. On Social Security they call my Organic Mental Disorder DIB code 2940 and Mood Disorder code 2960. Social Security pays my monthly fee to my boyfriend because I suffered head trauma resulting in a traumatic brain injury. My psychologist at the VA has informed me that my TBI score is low and I am currently appealing. As we all know now how fast VA works can you give us any guidance or direction or suggest as the local VSO and even the regional VSO seem clueless and I have lost all confidence in their ability to serve? my best interest I live north of Sacramento and use the Mather VA as my primary care facility. Thanks again for this article, it is very informative.
    Thanks and Semper FI

  28. Catherine TrombleyMarch 10, 2015 at 12.24

    Hi Ruby,

    Good question. The criterion for a 100 percent PTSD rating is that you have "complete occupational and social impairment." This means that you cannot pursue any professional work. You can work part-time as long as your income does not exceed the poverty line.

    Attending school on campus can be difficult since campus is a social environment, but you may be able to attend classes online. If you are interested in finding a job or returning to school, I strongly encourage you to speak with our Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists. They are great at helping disabled veterans find employment that matches their disability and help them successfully achieve their chosen goals.

  29. Dorothy Ragland-GlasMarch 10, 2015 at 10:37 a.m

    My brother was previously approved for disability benefits and has since been incarcerated since 2010. His payments have since stopped. He has appointed me as his agent and wants me to receive his benefits so that I can take care of his affairs. He asked me to speak to a service representative on his behalf

    • Catherine TrombleyMarch 10, 2015 at 12.05

      Hey Dorothy,

      Generally, benefits for incarcerated veterans are reduced. However, your brother's advice about talking to a service person is sound. We at VA would also like to talk to you. You can call us on 1800-827-1000 or visit your nearest regional office. Remember to bring your POA. In the meantime, here's more information on what's available for your brother:

  30. Ruby GaleMarch 10, 2015 at 9:34

    If a veteran is 100% disabled due to PTSD and receiving full pay, they are also considered unemployed. Do they lose their placement or their salary if they go back to school and get a part-time job?

    • Catherine TrombleyMarch 10, 2015 at 12.25

      Hi Ruby,

      Good question. The criterion for a 100 percent PTSD rating is that you have "complete occupational and social impairment." This means that you cannot pursue any professional work. You can work part-time as long as your income does not exceed the poverty line.

      Attending school on campus can be difficult since campus is a social environment, but you may be able to attend classes online. If you are interested in finding a job or returning to school, I strongly encourage you to speak with our Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists. They are great at helping disabled veterans find employment that matches their disability and help them successfully achieve their chosen goals.

  31. Kristy StumpfMarch 10, 2015 at 8:02

    My question is I have really bad anger issues due to my PTSD which has caused me to lose a couple of jobs. I don't quite understand this, but could this be the reason? I am not connected to the service yet but have been trying since 2011

    • Catherine TrombleyMarch 10, 2015 at 12:34 p.m

      Hey Kristy,
      I'm sorry to hear you're having such a hard time. The first step would be to connect the service. Since you have tried it in the past, I suggest you work with a Veterans Service representative such as: B. a state or district representative or VFW, Purple Heart, DAV, or American Legion, etc.

      I also hope that you will cooperate with our medical centers or veterinary centers to receive medical treatment. They have great programs to help veterans with PTSD anger issues. It's not easy and I can't say you will overcome your trauma, but as a friend once described to me, with help you can overcome it.

      Once you are connected to the service and a doctor determines that your post-traumatic stress disorder is causing a work disability, you may be eligible for IU, provided it meets the criteria mentioned in the post above. For more information on treatment see

  32. Jennifer WoolwineMarch 10, 2015 at 02.52

    I am a female combat veteran. I submitted a NOD in 2013 because I was denied IU. In April 2013 I was retired from my job as an RVSR due to depression. I receive a disability benefit from my VA job every month. I suffer from 70% PTSD, 30% migraines, 20% fibromyalgia and 10% tinnitus. In my employment decision it said that I was refused work because I cannot work because of my depression, I suffer from post-traumatic stress and not depression. And even if I can't work as an RVSR, there are other jobs I could work around my disability. I was working as an RVSR, a sedentary job, I don't know what other job I could do. Therefore, with my NOD, I have submitted a private medical declaration that my depression is a symptom of my post-traumatic stress disorder and that I am unable to obtain or maintain employment and that my disabilities are a total and social cause of employment. I have also been hospitalized twice and have submitted these papers to show that I am still unable to work. I have talked to several DROs I work with and they all said giving IU was easy. I meet all the requirements. And I'm still waiting for a decision. I have considered just filing a new claim since the assessment is due within 125 days, but then I lose my effective date of April 23, 2013, my last employment date. I have also provided documentation showing that my husband is now my primary caregiver through the VAMC and current documentation showing that my work-related disabilities continue to make it impossible for me to work or practice an occupation. I still haven't received a decision. Do you think this would be an easy grant for IU when a DRO reviews my case??? It has been almost 2 years since I submitted a NOD/DRO notice. I don't know what else to do at this point other than a congressional meeting.

  33. Cassie MikeMarch 10, 2015 at 12:14 p.m

    The VA will not accept my appeal as they already claim to have all the medical records. I depend on respiratory medicine to function in everyday life. It took them eight years to realize this injury existed, even though over a decade of documentation and medical evidence showed it was service related, they didn't categorize it. I really need a reliable service person. I was denied years of back pay for another service related injury because they wouldn't accept an appeal, but eventually they "reviewed" the original records and granted 50% disability with no back pay for the many years they refused to accept mine. appeals. I'm pretty sure I'll never get compensation for my lung injury without someone to manage the VA appeals process. I have seen years of promises made by other military personnel with no real help. A service person does not even return my records that I have entrusted to him. I'm getting tired of this whole nightmare.

    • Cassie MikeMarch 10, 2015 at 12:16 p.m

      ...and I'm not trying to get disability insurance, I just want to be assessed as appropriate for my disability and get the reimbursement I've been denied for a decade...

  34. Billy J. Vann Jr.March 9, 2015 at 22.04

    I am a veteran from the early 70's. I applied for Service Connect and was rejected. I draw a V.A. Pension. I bought this for me and my wife, November 2010 she got SSI and SSD. In February 2011, I provide information that she receives social benefits. In July 2012, V.A. I canceled my check for 8 months and then started giving myself 528.00 a month. I was told I needed a V.A. have. representative that the money she got was not enough so don't worry about that. But in return I end up owning the government. 15,000.00 and now I only get 584.00 a month. They say they give my wife about 200.00 a month but where does it go? She doesn't get it and when they say they will give it to me I get nothing but 300.00 is myself and the bad thing is we are separated and have been for over four years. The Texas vet who is supposed to represent me says there is nothing more he can do. I'm on edge because I can't keep living off what I get. If you can help me as I badly need dental care and can't afford it, I'm trying to keep a place to live and support myself.

  35. SteveMarch 9, 2015 at 21.56

    I'm just trying to make an appointment. 4 years ago I missed a disability appointment due to a snow storm and now years later I still can't get another appointment to have my problem assessed. What should I do as my problem has significantly worsened? My handicap was calculated without them.

  36. Jama RahnMarch 9, 2015 at 21.26

    I am appealing to my service connection...PTSD from May and ben was there when I was released. I also have severe depression due to post traumatic stress disorder. It's debilitating.
    can I apply Am I qualified? Confused.
    Thank you.

  37. Pam JenningsMarch 9, 2015 at 20.04

    fru Joseph,

    I would like to ask for your help. I was awarded a service related percentage for the asthma I developed while on active duty. In November 2010, just after my retirement and before I received my first pension payment, I was in a civilian hospital for two days due to a severe asthma attack. I brought this information and these records to an appointment in 2014 to appeal compensation and pension. I was told that the problem would not be addressed when my VA practitioner did not make an appointment for a sleep clinic consult for my sleep apnea in 2011. I was also told that no further breathing tests would be done. I changed family doctor. In November 2014 I had another severe asthma attack and was treated at Bay Pines ER. Finally I got a pulmonary function test - the result was just extra inhalers and albuterol for my nebulizer. I have yet to show up at Bay Pines Sleep Clinic because the provider requires me to provide records that were used to determine my percentage for my condition. I'm confused. Should the provider already have access to these recordings as they were delivered at the time of my review? Why is it so hard to explain to someone that my asthma is more serious than first thought? I suffer during flu season because I'm allergic to the preservative in the flu shot, so I can't take it. I also struggle through the pollen season. I have inhalers everywhere I stay for more than five minutes. I never had asthma as a child. I'm at a loss here as I've already filed an appeal to no avail.
    We appreciate any help you can provide.

    Pam Jennings

  38. EdgarMarch 9, 2015 at 18.09

    Aloha, I have a score of 70%, 40% for chronic back pain and the rest for chronic knee pain. What do I need to do to get an IU? I need the exact steps. I did this for over 20 years and retired in 1999. Thank you.

  39. Steve YoungMarch 9, 2015 at 5:30 p.m

    I tried for years to stay in the military due to injuries and was also retired due to military injuries. 10% 1 knee.20% lower back.20% left shoulder. 50% PTSD, rated at 70% in another NOD that for 192 days.

  40. Carmen Yvette GonzálezMarch 9, 2015 at 14.57

    Regards, Ms. Dominique Joseph...I was discharged from the ARMY Honorable on medical parole in August 2009...with a 50%...I served in the PR National Guard for 25 years. ..and of the 25…….21 years as a military technician…….. I made various conditions. At VA…..I was conscripted….major depression 30% 2009-10…..fibromyalgia……40% 2010-11 for 60%. Irritable bowel, sinus and CFS in 2014...10% each...but 10% combined 70% overall...sleep apnea was evaluated in 2014 with CFs...sinus and irritable bowel...but no response to the. VA Affairs told me he was on appeal... due to skin issues. ….IU……etc. …..I have social security in 2011……….What is your advice if I qualify for IU….I have all the criteria…..Many thanks…..SFC Ret Gonzalez. ..

  41. Jennifer NormanMarch 9, 2015 at 2:21 p.m

    I am at 80% and got my score for problems affecting work. I have done all my papers and exams. I have applied for U I but my claim is still closed and will be reopened. What should I do. I also served 12 years and was honorably discharged for these matters.

  42. Frank GannettMarch 9, 2015 at 12:38 p.m

    From personal experience, I think there are many programs that can help when you've lost everything, but none for those who are about to lose everything and have trouble maintaining it.

    Think about it. Cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD cannot continue if you are suffering from multiple current stressors such as unemployment, threatened homelessness, and relationship problems. This does not help a PTSD case in an injury claim to be approved.

    When you are homeless, they help you collect them, but you have to be homeless for more than two weeks. Not on someone's couch, but in a center. They check your taxes to make sure you're not making enough money. So you have to explain if you were earning a good wage and then suddenly stopped earning when the total number of workers is above the poverty line.

    I could go on...

  43. Tom JonesMarch 9, 2015 at 12:34 p.m

    I applied for IE on 3-14 and was refused. Submitted a NOD at 2-15. Having not worked since 1997, I wondered why it was rejected. I was assessed 60% IHD and 50% PTSD + 10% Tinnitus.
    I just turned down my pay rise due to coronary artery disease which is getting worse.
    I am over 65, this could be the reason for the missing IU.
    It only makes my depression worse when I have to play the game.
    Thanks for the article.

  44. Nancy Chaffin-GellerMarch 9, 2015 at 12:32 p.m

    I have been trying to get a UI since 2010. I am generally 70% disabled. Examiners threatened to falsify my paperwork and they did indeed falsify it. Throughout my exam examiners have also asked me who Herbert Hoover is and I am really disappointed with the professionalism my application has received over the years. I have filed a complaint with the inspector general and have never heard anything about these investigations. Each of my claims have been submitted through the American Legion and the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the senior State Veterans Affairs official who assisted me with my claims, and still no luck, I continue to receive denials. As of last fall I have been in the appeals process and I feel like I am still stuck and getting nowhere. I would really like your advice for someone who will look into my claim and the facts it contains and make an appeal decision rather than a stubborn decision just because the examiner has a chip on my shoulder.

  45. garciaMarch 9, 2015 at 12.16

    I am a Nam Vet. If I apply for [IU], do I still need a letter from my doctor?

  46. Gne KellyMarch 9, 2015 at 12.05

    I received IU overall and permanent and have an 80% rating but received a 100% salary rating. My question is I was told the VA would send me a letter every May asking about my work status? Is it true and if so why? They also told me that I needed to keep my address up to date because if I didn't and they didn't receive that information it could affect my status. Could you please explain what this letter is about?

    • Gne KellyMarch 25, 2015 at 3 p.m

      no reply - Posted on March 9, 2015?

  47. Santiago RodriguezMarch 9, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Hi, I am a veteran receiving 60% compensation for a back fusion (40%), left shoulder dislocation (10%) and right ankle arthritis (10%). I am also awaiting my original medical records from Houston because I will be filing two new claims for my knees and for mental health issues. I have been employed continuously since I left the service in 1996 and became redundant in June 2014 due to downsizing. I am currently speaking with a lawyer regarding a wrongful termination and possible discrimination. I have not been able to find work for various reasons, but the most common reason is that employers are not willing to work with me since I have so many positions. Is an IU an option for me and who would I discuss this with at my local clinic? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    With best regards

  48. George BoothMarch 9, 2015 at 09:52

    What if a veteran like me started a career in law enforcement but had a hard time keeping the job I have due to declining service due to depression, irritable bowel and anxiety? I really suffer from work even though I work. I am scheduled for 32 hours a week, but usually only come in about 20 hours, so I am 90% committed to the service. I really don't want to be unemployed and broke and lose everything I own before I qualify for TDIU.

    Is there anything in the regulation for those who really suffer from work? Who works but really shows through their performance that they shouldn't be there?

  49. Anthony LamantiaMarch 9, 2015 at 9:48

    I am a 90% disabled veteran and have applied for 100% disability. I have numerous injury related injuries and the VA has determined through their own doctors that the disability gets worse with age. Due to the stress and strain of this situation, the VA has also determined that I am fearful. I am in constant pain and have exhausted all options with the VA such as: B. PT etc. I am currently on anti-anxiety medication which I have not taken before and my personal life is also suffering as a result. I'm about to finish and need someone to help me. Thank you.

  50. Eunoröser Terrell DixonMarch 9, 2015 at 9:12

    Good morning Dominique

    My dermatitis appeal and reconsideration of the IU is currently under review. My question is: why does it take so long for a DRO to look at a veteran's record when they have had it for almost a year? How long does a full reassessment take? Is it as long as a call? And finally: what is the email address of IRIS?

    Eunoröser T Dixon

  51. Avery GaryMarch 8, 2015 at 18.50

    What if your Social Security disability was awarded for both service-connected and non-service-connected benefits, and your service-connected benefit is now impaired more than the original SSDI award because it is severe enough to cause secondary service-connected health problems?

    Not veterans

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 16.20

      Avery, I do not know how the Social Security Administration processes or reviews your disability claims. However, if you feel that your VA work-related disability has worsened, you can file a claim for a higher classification or request service connection for a new disability that is secondary to your current VA work-related disability.

  52. Carl CanadaMarch 8, 2015 at 11:51

    I have a question Dominique. I received an award letter for 100% P&T but the determination letter says 80% and I received a letter with commission payments and also chapter 35 family benefits. I am paid 100% but I am still confused about the rating

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12.43

      Carl, it is possible that the decision letter contains a typographical error. In order not to include personal information here, I have asked a VA representative to contact you directly for more information.

  53. Roger P. Heilig, Jr.March 7, 2015 at 9.42

    Thank you Mrs. Joseph for the explanation of TDIU!!

    It concerns me that you only posted the information (which I believe is a typical VA tactic to spread misinformation) on TDIU that falls under 38 CFR 4.16(a.) but not the information that falls under 38 CFR 4.16(b). ), which states: "It is the established policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs that all veterans who are unable to obtain and perform substantial gainful employment because of a service-connected disability must be classified as fully disabled." Therefore, the review boards should submit all cases of veterans who are unemployed because of service-connected disabilities but who do not meet the percentage standards in paragraph (a) to the Director of the Compensation and Pension Service for unscheduled review. this episode. The evaluator will provide a full explanation of the veteran's service-connected disability, employment history, educational and professional qualifications, and all other factors affecting the issue."

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is still sending applicants information about 38 CFR 4.16(a), which "in my opinion" is an attempt to mislead applicants. By not informing applicants of 38 CFR 4.16(b), applicants are misinformed and often lose their right to TDIU. Most VSOs I have encountered often do not know what 38 CFR is, let alone 38 CFR 4.16(b.).

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12:35 p.m

      Roger, I'm happy to help you. I wrote this blog post to mainly cover the basics of IU, but I would love to do a follow up post in the future to discuss 38 CFR 4.16(b), specifically unscheduled assessments.

  54. Chris Lewandowski, LMSWMarch 6, 2015 at 21.00


    Two questions. Is it possible for us to be classified as 100% permanent and full AND individually unemployed?

    And if so, can you remove the IU container 100% and get back to work?



    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12.25

      Chris, good question - you can't be 100 percent permanent and get an overall score AND receive an IU. If you are Permanent and Total, you can work EXCEPT if you are 100 percent assessed exclusively for PTSD (as described in the Psychiatric Assessment Plan under diagnosis code 9411 – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

  55. Kenneth TobiasMarch 6, 2015 at 18.25

    At IHD, I am 60% service-related and now unemployed in the trucking industry. My claim was granted in January 2015. I submitted an IU application on February 10, 2015 and am wondering how long it generally takes to get a response from the VA. Thanks

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12.16

      Kenneth, I cannot give you a timeline for the processing of your claim, but please be aware that we are working hard to make decisions as quickly and accurately as possible.

  56. Bruce James IannelloMarch 6, 2015 at 4:48 p.m

    I have been appealing a lawsuit alleging PTSD and MST since March 2002. I have been waiting 13 years for this and my lawsuit is still pending. In September 2014 I had a video conference with VVA and it took seven years before I was even heard. I suffer from diabetic neuropathy and have applied for unemployment.

    • Scott CarnellMarch 9, 2015 at 9.15

      Yes, call. I had to appeal, even though the replacement doctor agreed 100% with my claims. The judge awarded me damages and in his report investigated the regional office for ignoring the evidence he had collected himself. In fact, the judge backdated my claim further than when I originally appealed. So fight the battle, not just for you, but for the veterans after you. So many just give up and that sets the tone for this type of treatment.

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12.12

      Bruce, I'm sorry to hear that. In order not to include personal information here, I have asked a VA representative to contact you directly for more information.

  57. Randall BellMarch 6, 2015 at 13.50

    Yes, I am retired army, was a paratrooper with 100+ jumps and hurt my back. I was told I couldn't jump anymore. Retired in 2000 and my back has kept me from working anymore. I am now at 80 percent and I applied to TUIU last December and was rejected and my own doctor fired me from work. Here's what I'm trying to say: The VA sent me to a doctor to get checked out and they didn't even look at what they said, that's what upset me the most and they said I had haven't seen a doctor yet so they sent me to one. They didn't pay attention to what my own doctor said and I did. An application for Social Security was also denied and the VA said Social Security would deny me, but I wonder what Social Security has to do with my IU. I just don't understand what the VA was thinking. According to the law, I think you should look at all my papers that I sent you. Please help me understand this and I think I will appeal and get a military lawyer to help me with it. Thanks for caring.

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12:07 p.m

      Randall, I'm sorry to hear that. In order not to include personal information here, I have asked a VA representative to contact you directly for more information.

  58. Melvin Clark GrahamMarch 6, 2015 at 1:28 p.m

    My husband needs compensation for his injury in Vietnam. Can you help me? Thanks

  59. Melvin Clark GrahamMarch 6, 2015 at 13.25

    My husband was wounded in Vietnam, jumped out of a helicopter and broke his foot and lost his hearing. He applied for benefits, but was refused. He can't walk much and a swollen foot doesn't allow him to do much. He needs help and compensation. thank you

    • Jason D.March 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Melvin, I'm sorry to hear that. If you want compensation, here is a good, short guide on how to apply:

      We encourage you to enlist the help of a veterans service organization (DAV, VFW, American Legion, and many more) with filing. You can request one by going to your local VAMC or finding one near you at

  60. Jack StermerMarch 6, 2015 at 12:40 p.m

    You mention the maximum income that a person aged 65 or younger can earn. Is there a different amount or perhaps no limit for a vet over 65? Thank you.

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 12.01

      Jack, an annual poverty-level wage for someone over 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau $11,354.

  61. Matthew DavisonMarch 6, 2015 at 11.50

    I am a 40% service connected, disabled and unemployed veteran. I suffer from severe hearing loss and foot neuropathy which prevents me from driving long distances to job interviews or work. I will be 77 in April 2015, and while I know old age is illegal, I also know it exists. Because of my Social Security and VA benefits, my wife and I are struggling to make ends meet. With IU, we would no longer have to worry about our daily existence. Can you tell me if I could possibly qualify for IU? I currently have no employment prospects. Thank you for your time and care.

    With best regards

    Matthew Davison

    • Dominique JosephMarch 10, 2015 at 11:59

      Matthew, to qualify for IU you must have one of the following:
      1) a disability rating of 60 percent or more based on an individual service-related disability, or
      2) a 70 percent combined disability rating based on multiple service-connected disabilities with at least one disability rated at 40 percent or more.
      Because based on the information you provided, it does not appear that you meet the eligibility requirements for IU based on your 40 percent service connected disability rate. You have several options: you can request an increase in your disability to meet the eligibility requirements (note: if you do this, make sure you request fast track treatment as you are over 75) or, if you do, if you feel that your disabilities are severe with your current assessment and you still wish to consider an IU grant, you may request that your local regional office assessment committee submit a non-scheduled application for consideration to the Director of Compensation Services. See 38 CFR 4.16 for more information on unscheduled evaluations. Click here to read more:

  62. Aaron HackettMarch 6, 2015 at 11:27

    Hello Mr,
    My husband is completely unemployed due to his cerebral palsy. He had to retire from his public service. He gets his SSA which is very low. He has applied for IU, but his RVSR does not offer him support. If anything, he's trying to stop him from getting it. Why? His RVSR is Mr. Scott Ploof
    i New Orleans RO.

    • Jason D.March 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Aaron, without going into PII, the best advice we can give you is to re-read your decision letter. This will detail why the VA could not grant and what exactly the VA must grant. Finally, if you believe someone is actively and falsely preventing your husband from receiving care and benefits, please raise the situation with the VA OIG:

      • Aaron HackettMarch 16, 2015 at 19.58

        Jason... why are there laws and regulations? Please explain. 38 U.S.C. 310, 331, 1110.
        The C&P examiner expresses his opinion, then the RO will ask the nurse to contradict him. I do not understand it. So why are there laws and regulations if RO does not comply? Am I asking for much more than I have a right to? I know we are only a number and a quota but I pray that someone in the RO office will have compassion and do the right thing.

  63. Regina Ann RaucherMarch 6, 2015 at 11:24

    I have a question...I have been taking SSD for 9 years...PTSD/MST...Ovarian Cancer...IBS...Cholesterol...Stress Fractures...Mental Disability...How does THAT get VA work. offset the original claim? filed in 04? I have a Disabled American Veterans of Winston Salem processing my claim. He has twice asked to have my case expedited. I have very high blood pressure, but as a policeman...
    I would appreciate any information you have.
    Yes... Regina Smoker

    • Jason D.March 9, 2015 at 10.45

      Regina, please contact your state MST coordinator as soon as possible for assistance:

    • Walter Scott GriggMarch 10, 2015 at 12.05

      Just hope you don't appeal a threatening decision, but another 9 years... I am 90%, with a carer that the VA appointed and was denied 100% or IU and 70% on only one thing, but I want the VA board , if Winston would submit my form 9. I'm sorry, I mean you can't trust the VA, but I hope all goes well with your case

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