Maximizing Benefits: How Veterans Can Receive VA Unemployability and SSDI Simultaneously

Generally speaking, receiving Individual Unemployability (IU) or 100% Permanent and Total disability ratings from the VA helps your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim. However, there are several exceptions.

The two agencies have different guidelines, and obtaining one does not guarantee eligibility for the other. Here are some things you should know before applying for SSDI and IU.

Work with a Veteran’s Attorney

The VA system needs to be clarified. An experienced attorney can help you navigate it easily and get your deserved benefits.

When deciding eligibility for individual unemployability (IU), the VA focuses on whether your service-connected disabilities prevent you from earning a living in “substantially gainful employment.” To qualify, veterans must be determined to be unable to work without significant accommodation in a protected workplace environment.

A skilled attorney can maximize your chances of receiving this benefit. Generally, an attorney will request 20% to 30% of the back-pay check when he helps a veteran receive this benefit.

Many lawyers are jumping onto the bandwagon of representing disabled veterans. Be careful to choose a lawyer who has litigated at least 200 cases at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Ask the lawyer to explain his contract to you over the telephone before you hire him.

Maximize Your VA Unemployability Benefits

While it’s impossible to predict exactly when a VA rating will increase to 100%, you can maximize your chances by filing timely claims and appealing unfavorable decisions. Working with a legal representative to help you fill out the necessary forms is also important.

Many disabled veterans may be eligible for both VA unemployability and Social Security Disability benefits, supplying monetary assistance to people with disabilities related to their service that prevent them from working.

The VA’s rules for Individual Unemployability (IU) state that you can qualify if your service-connected disabilities cause you to be unable to obtain or maintain substantial gainful employment. That means you can still earn money by mowing lawns or working for a charity, but you can’t work in a job that would provide more than the set poverty level if you want to receive IU benefits.

To qualify for IU, you must have a schedular disability rating of 60 percent or higher or have multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of 70 percent or higher. You may also qualify if you have an extra schedular disability rating if your condition meets certain criteria, including a severe impairment not fully captured by the regular schedular ratings.

Apply for SSDI

While the VA and SSA require medical records, the two agencies operate differently. The SSA does not consider your VA rating when evaluating you for benefits. Instead, they review your medical condition and work history to see if you have a disability that prevents you from working and how severe it is.

If you have a medical condition that makes it impossible to keep a job, the SSA will evaluate you for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI is an income-based program for disabled people with little to no income, and it provides money to help you cover your living expenses.

You may also qualify for a TDIU benefit, which allows the VA to pay you 100% disability compensation even if you don’t have a service-connected rating of 100%. However, you must prove that you cannot keep a job and can only earn above the federal poverty guidelines through marginal and sheltered employment.

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