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What Is TDIU, IU, and Individual Unemployability?

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | October 7, 2020 | Firm News

What Is TDIU, IU, and Individual Unemployability?

If you are applying for disability compensation benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA), you may hear the mention of individual unemployability, commonly abbreviated as “IU” or “TDIU.” TDIU stands for a ‘Total Disability Rating based on Individual Unemployability.’ Individual unemployability is a benefit where the VA will pay the veteran at the 100% payment rate when it can be shown that the veteran’s service-connected disabilities prevent them from securing and maintaining substantially gainful employment, even if their combined disability rating is less than 100%.

VA likes to pretend that a veteran can only receive TDIU if they meet  , such  as a single disability rated at 60% or more, or 2 or more disabilities with 1 disability rated at 40% or more and a combined rating of 70% or more, however, the VA can award ‘extraschedular’ TDIU even where a veteran doesn’t meet those rating requirements. Put another way, if a veteran is unable to work due to service-connected disabilities, they should apply for TDIU regardless of their ratings.

What Is Substanially Gainful Employment?

Substantially gainful employment is generally defined as earnings above the Federal Poverty Threshold, which at the time of this writing, is approximately $12,000 per year. Thus, if a veteran is earning less than $12,000 per year, their employment will not be considered substantially gainful.

In addition, substantially gainful employment does not include sitautions where a veteran is earning above the Federal Poverty Level, but working in a ‘sheltered’ or ‘protected’ work environment, such as a family business or self-employment where they can’t be fired. In these situations, the veteran would have to show that they are unable to work anywhere but a protected work environment due to their service-connected disabilities.

What Is The TDIU Benefit Amount?

A veteran who is unable to work due to a service-connected condition(s) will be awarded TDIU benefits and paid at the 100% payment rate, which at the time of this writing, is approximately $3,000 per month for a single veteran with no dependents.

To learn more about TDIU and to find out if you may be eligible, speak with VA disability attorney Gregory M. Rada.


Gregory Rada is a Veterans Benefits Attorney who practices Nationwide. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and has been practicing law for six years. Gregory Rada believes in fighting for fellow veterans. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.