Veterans may qualify for payment at a 100 percent rating if they meet certain criteria and are unable to work due to their service-connected conditions. This is called Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability, which is often shortened to TDIU or even just IU. For a veteran to qualify for Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability, they usually must either have:
One service-connected disability that is rated at 60 percent or more or;
Two or more service-connected disabilities that have a combined rating of 70 percent, and one of those conditions must be rated at least 40 percent.
If you fall into either of these categories, you have met the first requirement. The second requirement is that the veteran cannot follow a substantially gainful occupation due to their service-connected conditions. Typically, a substantially gainful occupation is one that provides a veteran with an annual income that exceeds the poverty level in that particular geographical area. However, there are some situations in which a veteran’s income exceeds the poverty level, but it is not considered a substantially gainful occupation. A veteran’s occupation may not qualify as substantially gainful if they are working from home where they do not have to interact with other people or in a small family owned type business.
There is another situation in which the veteran’s ratings do not meet the above criteria, however their disability is so severe that they are not able to follow a substantially gainful occupation. This happens when rating code under which the specific disability is rated, does not contemplate the severity of the veteran’s disability and the veteran has shown substantial interference with their ability to work because of that disability.
In determining whether the veteran is unemployable, the VA will look to the veteran’s work history, special training, and level of education. They VA will not, however, take into consideration the veteran’s age or injuries that are not service-connected.