A “total disability rating based on individual unemployability,” often referred to as TDIU, IU, or individual unemployability, is an avenue for the VA to compensate a veteran who can’t work due to service-connected disabilities at the 100% rate when the veteran’s disabilities do not actually combine to 100%.
The VA announced on Monday that it is beginning the process to amend its regulations and establish presumptive service connection for certain conditions from exposure to contaminated drinking water at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The VA already provides health care services to veterans who have any of 15 conditions and who were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, but the new regulations will permit veterans to receive disability compensation.
A study published Monday in Brain, A Journal of Neurology, found that “blast exposure may negatively affect brain-aging trajectories at the microstructural tissue level,” even among service members who felt nothing from the blast. It’s especially disturbing the study found signs of brain degeneration and early aging even in veterans who reported they never experienced blast-related symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, memory loss, or loss of consciousness.
VA’s requirement to use standardized forms to start claims and appeals has gone into effect as of March 25, 2015. In addition, the VA’s new “Intent to File a Claim” process replaced the old “informal claims” process. I’ve already discussed the details of the new standardized forms requirement here, as well as the intent to file a claim process here, so I’ve summarized the main points after the break.
In September 2014, the Federal Circuit decided Beraud v. McDonald, carving out an exception to the general rule that a “subsequent final adjudication of a claim which is identical to a pending claim that has not been finally adjudicated terminates the pending status of the earlier claim.” Now, under Beraud, when a veteran submits evidence to the VA within the appeal period of a rating decision, the VA must make a determination as to whether the evidence constitutes “new and material evidence,” or the claim remains pending until such determination is made. Notably, the claim remains pending even if there have been subsequent final decisions on the same claim.