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Can I get TDIU for PTSD?

Can I get TDIU for PTSD? Yes. TDIU is a special benefit for veterans who cannot support themselves due to service-connected disabilities.  It pays the same as a 100% rated disability.  For TDIU to apply, your PTSD must first be service-connected.  This may seem simple, but several veterans have PTSD because of a traumatic event that happened years after military service. Second, you cannot earn a living because of PTSD. 

TDIU for PTSD Requirements

In order to be granted TDIU for PTSD is does not mean the veteran has to be unemployed.  VA will grant TDIU to an employed veteran if the employment is considered marginal.  VA deems employment marginal if the veteran earns LESS than the federal poverty threshold for one person (in 2018, $12,784.00 per the U.S. Census Bureau).

Rating Percentage

The veteran must meet the percentage requirements.  If the veteran has only one service-connected disability, it must be rated 60% or higher.  The Schedule of Ratings for PTSD permits only the following ratings: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% and 100%.

Services Connected Disabilities

If the veteran is only service-connected for PTSD, it must be rated no lower than 70% to get TDIU.  However, if the veteran has more than one service-connected disability, then at least one must be rated 40% or higher.  Also, there must be “sufficient additional disability to bring the combined rating” to 70% or higher.

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Disability Help Group Case Studies

Case Study 1: TDIU for PTSD

A 60 year-old veteran was diagnosed with PTSD secondary to his service-connected hypertension.  VA previously awarded 10% for his hypertension.  In March 2018, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied his PTSD claim.  After a successful appeal, DHG secured a remand for a new VA medical examination.  In November 2019, VA granted service connection for PTSD at 70% effective September 2009.  Because the evidence showed that his PTSD prevented him from working, VA also granted entitlement to TDIU.  He received a lump sum of $340,000.00, and his monthly payment changed from $133.57 to $3,057.13.

Case Study 2: TDIU for PTSD

A 65 year-old veteran asked VA for a higher rating for his PTSD.  At the time, he was service-connected for tension headaches at 50% and PTSD at 50%.  His combined rating was 80% and he had not worked since 2012.  After a successful appeal, VA granted TDIU back to 2012.  As a result, he received a lump sum of $121,000.00, and his monthly payment changed from $1,556.13 to $3,057.13.

Case Study 3: TDIU for PTSD

A 65 year-old veteran had a 50% rating for anxiety with PTSD and a 10% rating for a lumbar spine condition.  Shortly after he hired Disability Help Group, it was clear that VA should have granted at least a 70% rating for anxiety with PTSD.  After a successful appeal, VA granted a 70% rating for PTSD and then granted TDIU.  He received a lump sum of $109,000.00, and his monthly payment changed from $1,062.27 to $3,057.13.

While most of this article refers to PTSD, it also applies to other mental disorders.  For example, many of our clients have won TDIU based on their service-connected schizophrenia.

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Total Disability (TDIU) for PTSD

How Can I Get TDIU?

What Is TDIU?

Many veterans are unable to earn a living because of service-connected disabilities.  Congress created a special benefit called TDIU to help these veterans live comfortably, 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.  VA will pay an additional amount for each of the veteran’s dependents.

Ways to Get TDIU

A veteran cannot simply state to the VA, “I cannot work due to disabilities related to service.”

First, cannot earn a living

In order to receive TDIU, a veteran must first show they cannot earn a living because of service-connected disabilities.  VA will grant TDIU to an employed veteran if the employment is considered marginal. They do not have to be unemployed. VA considers employment to be marginal if the veteran earns LESS than the federal poverty threshold for one person (in 2018, $12,784.00 per the U.S. Census Bureau).

Second, must meet percentage requirements

If the veteran has only one service-connected disability, it must be rated 60% or higher to receive TDIU.  If the veteran has more than one service-connected disability, then at least one must be rated 40% or higher.  Also, there must be “sufficient additional disability to bring the combined rating” to 70% or higher.  The regulation specifies five circumstances in which multiple disabilities “will be considered as one disability”. 

Will You Get TDIU?

Disability Help Group has won TDIU for hundreds of veterans.  Here are a few examples:

  • A divorced, 70-year old Vietnam-era veteran had a 20% rating for diabetes, 20% each for diabetic neuropathy in both legs, and 10% each for diabetic neuropathy in both arms.  These combined to a 60% rating.  As a result of these conditions, he had not worked in 3 years.  Because the disabilities all arose from exposure to Agent Orange, we argued that VA should consider them as one service-connected disability and grant TDIU.  VA agreed and granted TDIU.  His monthly payment changed from $1,062.67 to $3,057.13.
  • A married, 35-year old Gulf War veteran asked us to help with an appeal for PTSD.  She did not have a VA rating and she just lost her job.  We submitted evidence to VA to win the PTSD claim.   However, we noticed that she lost her last 2 jobs because of her PTSD.  She had daily panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, and was hospitalized for PTSD four times in the last year.  We argued that VA should grant her PTSD claim at a 70% rating, and then grant TDIU.  VA agreed.  Her monthly payment changed from $0 to $3,227.58.
  • A single, 50-year old veteran had a 60% rating for Meniere’s disease.  His symptoms prevented him from working a full-time job, but he worked as an Uber driver.  Because he earned less than $12,784.00 per year with Uber, VA granted TDIU.  He continued to receive his income from Uber, but his monthly VA payment changed from $1,062.67 to $3,057.13.

If you are interested in learning more about TDIU you can read the regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 4.16. Click here for a free case review.

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