Can I Work and Get TDIU? Many veterans are unable to support themselves because of service-connected disabilities. Congress decided to take care of these veterans with a special benefit called TDIU. Also known as Unemployability, TDIU pays the same monthly amount as a 100% disability rating. Under 2019 rates, VA will pay TDIU recipients a minimum of $3,057.13 per month tax free. The whole point of TDIU is to compensate veterans who cannot maintain a full-time job due to service-connected disabilities. In most cases, VA will only award TDIU if the service-connected disabilities combine to at least 70%.
TDIU v Unemployed
The terms “Unemployability” and “Unemployed” look and sound alike, many veterans assume that cannot work to get TDIU. This is a common misconception.
Amount You Can Earn
VA will grant TDIU to a veteran that works if the employment is considered “marginal.” 38 C.F.R. § 4.16(a). VA considers employment “marginal” if the veteran earns LESS than the federal poverty threshold for one person (in 2018, $12,784 per the U.S. Census Bureau).
Sheltered Work Environment
Regardless of your income, you may still be eligible for TDIU if you work in a sheltered environment. Sheltered work environments include self-employment or a family business. If you are your own boss, you can probably take as much time off as your medical conditions require. Similarly, a family business is probably more accommodating to a veteran’s disabilities than the average workplace. Also, your family or yourself would likely pay at a rate higher than you could earn at another job.
Example: Difficult TDIU Work Case
Take the example of a veteran with a 70% rating for PTSD who works as a Financial Advisor. With the help of his doctors, he is able to manage his PTSD symptoms while earning over $100,000 a year. Because he earns above the poverty threshold despite his PTSD, he is not a good candidate for TDIU.
Example: Good TDIU Work Case
A 60 year-old veteran owns a roofing company. He has an 80% overall rating for PTSD, diabetes, and diabetic neuropathy. He lost his last 2 jobs because his PTSD led to angry confrontations with customers and his bosses. This is why he started the roofing business. His PTSD impairs his ability to maintain relationships with friends, clients, and workers. As his diabetes worsened over the years, he hired more workers to handle the physical labor. Over the past 5 years, he hired and fired over 20 workers. During the same period, another 15 workers resigned because of his offensive outbursts. This veteran is eligible for TDIU because he is employed in a sheltered environment.
Are you entitled to work and get TDIU based on marginal employment? Call the experts at Disability Help Group, 1-800-800-3332. Or, click here to request a free evaluation.
If you would like to read more about the regulation on TDIU, click on this link, 38 C.F.R. § 4.16(a).
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