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Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Claims Lawyer

When a service-connected disability (or disabilities) prevents a veteran from working, the VA is authorized to pay the veteran at the 100 percent rate, even if the veteran’s service-connected disability is rated less than 100 percent. This is called a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU or IU). If you have a service-connected disability that prevents you from working, then you may be entitled to a TDIU rating.


It is a common misconception that a veteran can only receive TDIU if they meet the following rating requirements:

  • one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more, or
  • two or more service-connected disabilities with one disability rated at 40% or more, and a total combined rating of 70% or more

But that is not true. Instead, when a veteran does not meet the rating requirements but nonetheless is unable to work due to a service-connected disability, the VA is required to consider assigning the veteran an extraschedular TDIU. The grant of an extraschedular TDIU requires a finding that the veteran’s case presents such an exceptional or unusual disability picture with such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization as to render impractical the application of the regular scheduler standards. Although it might sound daunting, the only relevant question in an extraschedular TDIU case, just like a regular TDIU case, is whether the veteran’s service connected disabilities render them unemployable.

For example, I recently won an appeal for extraschedular TDIU where the veteran’s only service-connected condition was a knee injury rated at 10%.

What Is TDIU?

TDIU is an acronym for a “Total Disability Rating based on Individual Unemployability.”  TDIU is a rating designated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans who are unable to work due to disability. Veterans who are unable to obtain or maintain employment due to injuries or conditions sustained from their service may be granted TDIU, which means the VA will pay the veteran at the 100% payment rate even though their combined rating is less than 100%.


Whenever a veteran files an original claim or a claim for an increased rating, the veteran is presumed to be making a claim for the highest benefit allowable. That means that if a veteran’s claims file contains evidence that indicates the veteran may be unemployable due to a service-connected condition, then the VA is required to consider and adjudicate a claim for a TDIU rating. As you can guess, the VA often ignores such evidence and fails properly decide the issue of a TDIU rating.

This means that you might have a pending claim for TDIU, and if you can win entitlement to TDIU, you might be able to get an earlier effective date. Recently, I had a veteran hire me to help him claim entitlement to TDIU. We won the claim with an effective date of May 2021, but were then able to successfully appeal for an earlier effective date of January 2010 based on the argument that the claim for TDIU was reasonably raised by the record in January 2010 when the veteran had told a VA examiner that he quit his job due to PTSD symptoms. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in backpay that the veteran did not even know he was entitled to.

Veterans: How to Start a Case

If you are a veteran, you may be entitled to disability compensation for your service. Whether or not you can receive VA disability benefits depends on several factors, which are unique to your individual circumstances and situation. Read on to learn how to start a case, what documents you need to gather, and how to present them to your lawyer. If you need help with your application and would like to learn more about the full legal services available, call Greg of Gregory M. Rada, Attorney at Law at (800) 955-8596 for a free case evaluation today.

Understanding Your Eligibility Further

Eligibility for VA disability compensation is not automatic, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must have had service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, or Coast Guard.
  • Your service must have included “active duty.”
  • You must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

What You Need

If you’ve scheduled an appointment for the first time with a VA TDIU lawyer, there are certain things you should have ready.

First, you should know all your service-connected disabilities and their individual ratings. You should also know your overall combined rating.

Second, you should know your employment history from the past 5 years, including employers, type of work, amounts earned, and an explanation as to why you are no longer able to work due to your service-connected disabilities.

Finally, you should be familiar with the status of your VA claims and appeals. Meaning, when was the last time you made a claim and when was the last time VA issued a rating decision. Also, what occurred in the last VA rating decision?

What Happens after You File

After you file a request for entitlement to individual unemployability (TDIU), the VA regional office will schedule you for a C&P examination for whatever service-connected disabilities you allege make you unable to work. At the examination, your disability will be assessed to determine how it impacts your ability to work.

After you attend the C&P examination(s), the VA regional office will issue a rating decision either granting or denying TDIU. If you are denied, you would start the appeals process which usually involves developing evidence in support of your appeal, such as hiring a vocational expert to perform a vocational assessment on you.

Ultimately, if the regional office won’t grant TDIU, you have to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeal, which unfortunately can take years to receive a decision. But if you’re not working and want to receive the 100% payment rate, it’s obviously worth the wait.

If you need help with your TDIU application and would like to learn more about the full legal services available from a VA TDIU lawyer, call Greg of Gregory M. Rada, Attorney at Law at (800) 955-8596 for a free case evaluation today.


Obtaining a TDIU rating often requires a medical and/or vocational expert opinion. I work with experts who will give you a fair examination. In addition, it is common for the VA to disregard and not adjudicate inferred claims for TDIU – meaning you may have an outstanding claim with the potential for significant backpay. I will conduct a thorough review of your VA claims file to determine whether the facts ever supported an inferred claim for TDIU.


I work on a contingency fee basis which means you pay no up-front fees for my representation. You only pay my fee if I successfully resolve your appeal. My fee is a reasonable percentage of your backpay award, and does not impact your future benefits.

In addition, I advance all costs of your appeal including the cost of obtaining independent medical examinations or vocational aassessments(when appropriate). You are only responsible for repayment of expenses upon successful resolution of your appeal, or if you terminate my representation before final conclusion of your appeal.


I handle every aspect of your case from initial intake to resolution, and as a disabled veteran myself, I understand what you are going through. I don’t use support staff, so you are always dealing with me and I pride myself on responding to my clients in a timely manner.

Ways a Lawyer Can Help You With Your TDIU Claim 

A TDIU claim can be a challenge to win if you do not know the full steps to do the process, as a Colorado VA TDIU lawyer knows too well. A lawyer who handles TDIU claims for clients can assist you with every part of the process, such as making sure the claim paperwork is completed correctly and helping you develop the evidence to prove your case. Here are some of the many important ways that a trusted lawyer like Gregory M. Rada, Attorney At Law can help you. 

Review Your Case 

With the legal assistance that a trusted and competent TDIU lawyer can provide for you, a skilled lawyer can determine if you have a winnable TDIU claim. A skilled VA lawyer will also determine whether there is an implicit TDIU claim in your file that could result in additional back pay once entitlement to TDIU is granted by VA.

Understand Your TDIU Eligibility

The only relevant question in a TDIU case is whether your service-connected disabilities make you unemployable. If so, then you can likely win entitlement to TDIU, although the process can be difficult because VA, similar to Social Security, generally does not grant entitlement on the initial claim. Most often, you have to appeal and usually hire a vocational expert to get the evidence to win your claim for individual unemployability.

Extra Schedular TDIU Benefits

A Colorado VA TDIU lawyer understands how difficult it can be for United States veterans who deal with service-connected health conditions that leave them unable to work. In these situations, the veteran may qualify for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). TDIU benefits provide a veteran with the 100 percent payment rate where their combined rating is less than 100 percent.

How does a veteran qualify for TDIU benefits?

In short, a veteran has to show they are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to their service-connected disability or disabilities.

What are the ratings requirements for regular TDIU?

  • The veteran must have several service-connected disabilities that have individual ratings that add up to 70 percent or more. At least one of those disabilities must have its own rating of at least 40 percent.
  • The veteran must have at least one service-connected disability with a 60 percent individual rating.

But even if a veteran does not meet those rating requirements, they can still receive TDIU on an extraschedular basis. 

What are extra schedular TDIU ratings?

An extraschedular TDIU rating simply means a veteran receives TDIU even though they don’t meet the above-referenced rating requirements. Extraschedular TDIU claims are very winnable, but they may take longer to win because VA requires a veteran to jump through a few extra hoops. 

How can a veteran apply for an extraschedular TDIU rating?

There is no special process to initiate a claim for extraschedular TDIU. A veteran simply submits a VA Form 21-8940 to request entitlement. One of the extra hoops in an extraschedular TDIU case is that VA must obtain an advisory opinion from the Director of Compensation Service. The Director will evaluate the veteran’s service-connected disabilities and their impact, their employment history, and their educational and vocational records in making their determination on whether an extraschedular TDIU rating should be granted. The Director usually provides a negative advisor opinion, but then the veteran can appeal and still win the case.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for an extraschedular TDIU rating?

Although you are not required to retain the services of a Colorado VA TDIU lawyer, given the complexities of this process, having a lawyer who is experienced and knowledgeable about the process can make all the difference in whether your application is approved or denied. Your lawyer can assist you in gathering the necessary evidence to prove your claim, make sure all the required steps of the process are met, present the evidence to the Director on your behalf, and file an appeal if that becomes necessary. Contact Gregory M. Rada, Attorney at Law to find out how we can help. Call Greg at (800) 955-8596 for a free case evaluation.

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Client Review

"Greg is an amazing lawyer that you should hire! I wanted someone who was also in the military and could understand how the VA system works to help me win my appeal for my TDIU benefits, and he managed to win my case. Thanks again!"
Pauline O'Connell
Client Review