The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (2023)

Is your service-bound condition preventing you from working? Thanks to Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), veterans who are disabled (or unable to maintain “substantial gainful employment”) with VA ratings below 100 percent may continue to receive benefits at the 100 percent level.

This post explains TDIU and breaks down TDIU vs. 100 percent disability. We also cover how to file a TDIU claim.

There are three ways the VA can pay you 100 percent:

  1. TDIU
  2. 100 percent on target (your disability ratings add up to a 95 percent rating, rounded to 100 percent)
  3. 100 percent permanent and total

TDIU benefits are paid to hundreds of thousands of veterans! As of 2020, over 258,000 veterans are receiving benefits at the 100 percent disability level. Half of those 258,000 veterans are not 100 percent rated at the plan level but receive TDIU benefits.

Read on to learn more about the differences between TDIU Veteran's Benefits and 100% Disability Claims!

The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (1)

Table of contents

  • TDIU vs. 100 percent disability
  • Planned vs. unscheduled TDIU
    • The VA requirements for scheduled TDIU
    • Examples of veterans who might pursue TDIU vs. 100% disability
  • VA requirements for unscheduled TDIU
  • Essential employment: Can I work at TDIU?
    • TDIU Income Limits
    • PRO TIP: Many veterans believe that taking TDIU means they can't work at all. That is not true. It's important to note that you can continue to do limited paid work while continuing to receive TDIU. The question is not whether you work, but whether your income meets the poverty guidelines.
    • Do you work in a protected environment? TDIU income limits may be waived
  • If I submit a VA disability claim, am I automatically considered for TDIU benefits?
  • How to apply for TDIU vs. 100 percent disability
  • Can TDIU be permanent and complete?
  • Can TDIU be taken away?
  • Which is better - a TDIU or a 100% scheduled assessment?
  • About the author


Take advantage of oneFREIVA claim discovery call with an experienced team member. Find out what you've been missing so you FINALLY get the disability card status and compensation you deserve for your service.

TDIU vs. 100 percent disability

Both TDIU and 100% disability benefits compensate veterans with thesame monthly payment. (In 2022, that's $3,332.06 per month for a veteran living alone.) TDIU benefits compensate you 100 percent, even if your disabilities don't result in a 100 percent VA rating.

For veterans, getting approved for TDIU is typically much easier than getting a 100 percent schedule rating from the VA.

Achieving a 100 percent disability rating is usually more difficult because theVA's Disability Classification Criteria scheduleis specific to the severity of your symptoms. According to the VA's standards, you could have a disability that prevents you from working but still not have symptoms that qualify you for a 100 percent assessment.

For example theThe average rating for PTSD is 70 percent. To get a 70 percent score for PTSD, you must have "deficiencies in most areas" related to work, school, family relationships, judgment, thinking, or mood.

A 100 percent PTSD rating requires the veteran to have complete professional and social impairment rather than just deficiencies in most areas.

A veteran with a 70 percent PTSD rating with deficiencies in most of these areas could very well have trouble working, which is why the VA compensates eligible veterans with TDIU.

If you are unable to work (or maintain “substantial gainful employment”) because of your service-related status or conditions, you may be eligible for TDIU, depending on your VA disability rating. Below we cover specific TDIU assessments.

The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (2)

Planned vs. unscheduled TDIU

When TDIU is mentioned, most people mean scheduled TDIU. In this method, the VA assigns you a TDIU rating based on your incapacity to work or be employed above the federal poverty line (“substantial employment”). You must have a VA disability rating that meets the VA threshold (more on this below).

Unscheduled TDIU is a catch bucket that allows the VA to compensate you 100 percent even if you don't meet the schedule requirements.

Some veterans use the acronym Individual Unemployability (IU) when talking about TDIU. There is no difference between IU and TDIU; they are the same.

The VA requirements for scheduled TDIU

To receive scheduled TDIU benefits, you must meet two distinct requirements, one for your classification and one based on your ability to work:

  1. You must have a specific service-related VA disability rating; either:
    1. you are ratedat 60 percent or moreforOne condition, or
    2. You have acombined rating of 70 percent or morebetweentwo conditionswithany of the conditions rated 40 percent or higher, And
  2. You are unable to hold a job that supports you financially through substantial gainful employment

If you have multiple conditions that do not meet the 60 percent or 40 percent “one condition” requirement, you may still qualify for scheduled TDIU. The VA combines multiple conditions into “a condition” for the purposes of TDIU if they meet any of these requirements:

  • Disabilities in one or both arms or legs
  • Disabilities resulting from a common etiology (cause) or a single accident
  • Disabilities affect a single body system
    • Examples include disabilities affecting the orthopaedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, or neuropsychiatric systems
  • Multiple injuries in action
  • Multiple disabilities as a prisoner of war

Examples of veterans who might pursue TDIU vs. 100% disability

Example 1: Rated 70 percent for PTSD

If you score 70 percent for PTSD, you meet the criteria of a disability scored 60 percent or higher. You will be eligible for TDIU if you are unable to work.

Example 2: 30% for right knee, 30% for right ankle, 20% for right foot, 30% for asthma (all duty related)

The knee, ankle, and foot scores combine to give a 61 percent "a condition" rating, which meets the requirement for a condition to be rated 40 percent or higher. Your Combined Rating Example, you will be eligible for TDIU if you are unable to work.

(Video) What's the difference between a VA Schedular 100% Rating and TDIU?

We cover the VA definition of substantial employment later in this article. But first, in case you don't meet the above assessment requirements, let's explain the unscheduled TDIU.

VA requirements for unscheduled TDIU

If you do not qualify for scheduled TDIU based on your VA rating, you may still be eligible for TDIU under a fallback provision: unscheduled TDIU.

Unscheduled TDIU is intended to compensate you 100 percent even if you do not meet the minimum placement requirements (60 percent for one disability, or 70 percent for two or more disabilities, one of which is at least 40 percent).

In other words, this type of rating is intended to provide you with this rating when the standard VA disability rating schedule does not capture the degree to which your disability affects your ability to function, work, and lead a normal life.

Unscheduled TDIU is more difficult to qualify. You must demonstrate that your service-related disability prevents you from having a job that will support you above the federal poverty line, even if your rating does not meet the minimum requirements above.

Regardless of what type of TDIU you seek, the key point is that you are unable to maintain "substantial employment" with an income above the federal poverty line. Below we describe when and how much you can work and still be entitled to TDIU.

Essential employment: Can I work at TDIU?

Yes, you can work with TDIU, but there are limitations.

There are two categories that veterans fall into when it comes to employment:essential employmentAndMarginal employment.

TDIU Income Limits

Veterans must earn more than a certain income limit to be considered essentially employed. If you are primarily employed, you do not automatically qualify for TDIU.

The VA ties significant gainful employment to the federal poverty guideline. For 2022, the poverty line is $13,590 for a veteran with no dependents. This increases by $4,720 for each dependent. So if you earn $13,590 or more annually (as a veteran with no dependents), you are typically considered to be essentially employed.

Anything under $13,590 per year is considered marginal employment and qualifies you for TDIU. Continue reading our postTDIU Income Limitsto learn more.

The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (3)

PRO TIP: Many veterans believe that taking TDIU means they can't work at all. That is not true. It's important to note that you can continue to do limited paid work while continuing to receive TDIU. The question is not whether you work, but whether your income meets the poverty guidelines.

Do you work in a protected environment? TDIU income limits may be waived

You can earn over $13,590 per year and still qualify for TDIU if you work in a sheltered work environment.

If an employer makes special accommodations for your disability that allow you to continue working and earn above the poverty line, the VA classifies this as employment in a sheltered work environment.

The VA has no defined guideline about which special precautions qualify a workplace as a protected work environment.

Examples of special accommodations might include being paid the same amount as other employees for less work or productivity, or being exempt from mandatory training. Veterans working in a family business often qualify for TDIU when they are given leave due to their disability but still receive the same pay.

If you apply for TDIU, the VA will assess whether or not your workplace is in a protected environment based on the facts of your case.

(Video) VA Disability: What is the Difference Between a 100% Schedular Rating and TDIU?

Enclosing a statement from your employer detailing your special accommodations and how they relate to your disability will help show the VA that you are working in a safe environment.

The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (4)

If I submit a VA disability claim, am I automatically considered for TDIU benefits?

When you submit a VA claim, you want the VA to automatically determine if you are eligible for TDIU benefits. However, this doesn't always happen, which is why self-advocacy is so important to getting the compensation you deserve!

There are a few steps the VA takes when reviewing your claim. The first step is to determine if you meet the time requirements for TDIU. (Again, that would mean you have a disability of at least 60 percent, or two that add up to at least 70 percent—with one of those disabilities being at least 40 percent).

If you meet these requirements, your VA regional office should proceed to Step 2 - Employment Consideration. This is where your argument would come into play because you are unable to maintain substantial employment.

Technically, the VA should consider whether TDIU is applicable based on your claim and the documentation provided. However, you can also apply directly for TDIU if you feel you are eligible and the VA did not consider TDIU in your case.

How to apply for TDIU vs. 100 percent disability

To apply for TDIU benefits, you must submit a regular disability application along with some additional forms.

To apply for the most common type of TDIU benefits (scheduled),You must meet and complete the minimum requirements for the service-related evaluationVA-Form 21-8940. This form asks for:

  • The service-related disabilities that prevent you from working
  • Information on hospitalizations in the last 12 months
  • Your employment history for the last five years (including the time when your disability interfered with full-time employment and you became unable to work)
    • Employer names and addresses
    • types of work
    • Hours worked per week
    • Time lost due to illness
    • Highest gross earnings per month
    • Total income over the last 12 months
  • Whether you have been trying to find employment since becoming too disabled
  • school and other education
  • Personal statement/comments on your case

In addition, new employers must graduateVA-Form 21-4192. This form contains:

  • Employment information (dates, hours worked and amount earned)
  • Loss of work due to your disability
  • Concessions from your employer because of your disability
  • reason for dismissal from the employer
  • Duty status if you are in the Reserve or National Guard
  • Any claims or other benefits you receive
  • Comments from your employer

If you don't meet the assessment minimums and are therefore targeting unscheduled TDIU, the process is slightly different. You must provide the Director of the Compensation Service with the following documents:

  • A full explanation of your service-related disabilities
  • your professional career
  • Educational and professional qualifications
  • Any other factors affecting the problem

For more information on how to submit a prize claim, see our post on submitting oneAND TDIU claim.

Can TDIU be permanent and complete?

TDIU benefits are not necessarily permanent, but they can be granted permanent status. In general, TDIU benefits are intended to provide veterans with an income sufficient to support them when their service-related disabilities prevent them from maintaining substantial employment.

If you believe your circumstances warrant it, you must apply for permanent status and demonstrate to the VA that your service-related conditions are unlikely to improve over time, rendering you permanently unemployed if you are above the federal poverty line.

If your level of disability changes so that you can earn income above the federal poverty line, your TDIU benefits will be revoked.

In the past, as a veteran receiving TDIU benefits, you were required to submit a questionnaire to the VA each year to determine if you still qualified. This process changed in 2019. The VA now uses data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine which veterans pay into Social Security. The VA may ask you to fill it outVA Form 21-4140 Employment Questionnairebased on this data.

TDIU benefits may also be granted temporarily for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Pre-Stabilization: Recently medically discharged veterans for whom employment is not possible or advisable
  • Prolonged Hospitalization: Hospitalizations of 21 days or more due to disability
  • Recovering from surgery due to service-related disabilities if recovery takes one or more months

Can TDIU be taken away?

In order to withdraw your TDIU assessment, the VA must demonstrate with clear and compelling evidence that you are now more than marginally employable (above the federal poverty line).

(Video) 4 Types Of 100% VA Disability Ratings

The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability (5)

Which is better - a TDIU or a 100% scheduled assessment?

There is no right answer as to whether TDIU vs. 100% disability is "better." The answer depends on your situation.

A TDIU rating might be your best option if:

  • You are a veteran who is unable to work or maintain essentially gainful employment because of one or more service-related disabilities, but you also do not qualify for a 100 percent assessment based on your symptoms, or
  • You're having trouble getting the VA to classify you as a 100 percent disability rating

On the other hand, to maintain your TDIU rating, you can't earn more than $13,590 a year through employment (if you're a veteran without dependents) unless you're working in a sheltered environment. There are no restrictions on your ability to work if you have a 100 percent scheduled VA rating.


Most veterans are undervalued because of their disabilities and as a result do not receive the compensation they are entitled to. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and control the claims process so you receive the TDIU assessment and compensation that you are legally entitled to.

Our processtakes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and guides you through every step of building a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) - so you can improve your score fast!

If you've submitted your VA disability claim and been denied or received a low score - or you're not sure how to start - contact us! Take advantage of oneFREE call to determine VA claims. Find out what you've been missing out on so you FINALLY get the disability assessment and compensation you deserve!

We've helped more than 15,000 Veterans meet their claims and improve their ratings. NOW IT'S YOUR TURN.

About the author

Brian Reese


Brian Rees is a VA Services Expert and Amazon #1 Best Seller AuthorYou Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Perks You Deserve, and Founder of VA Claims Insider–"The most trusted name in education-based resources for veterans."

His frustration with the8-Step VA Disability Claim Processled him to create„VA Claims Insider“,which provides US military veterans with tips, strategies and lessons for successfully filing or re-filing a successful VA disability compensation claim.

Brian isalso the managervonDisability made easy, the world's largest freely searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims, serving more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its inception in 2013.

His eBook, the"9 Secret Strategies To Winning Your VA Disability Claim"has been downloaded over 300,000 times in the last three years and is the #1 rated free guide to VA disability claims for veterans.

(Video) What are the different 100% ratings for VA?

He is aformer active duty Air Force officerwith extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian ist ein Distinguished Graduate of Management derUnited States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and holds an MBA from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (top 1% of grad school class).


The difference between TDIU and 100 percent VA disability? ›

The difference between 100% and TDIU is that a 100% combined rating allows you to continue working if you can, while TDIU is for veterans who can't be gainfully employed due to a condition caused by their military service.

What is the difference between 100 disability and 100 unemployability? ›

A 100% disability rating is the highest rating that the VA can assign and indicates that the veteran is totally disabled as a result of their service-connected disability. An individual unemployability designation means that the VA has determined that the veteran cannot work due to their service-connected disability.

How much is 100 TDIU pay? ›

What Is the Benefit Amount of Individual Unemployability? Individual Unemployability benefits are paid at a rate equivalent to a 100 percent disability rating, which is $3,621.95 per month for a single veteran as of December 2022. Veterans may receive additional monthly compensation for a spouse or dependent children.

Is TDIU separate from VA disability? ›

Thankfully, Veterans can receive both TDIU from the VA and SSDI from the Social Security Administration. Although they are separate benefits programs with distinct application processes and requirements, both provide important support for Veterans with disabilities.

Can you go from TDIU to 100% P&T? ›

As described in the above, in simplest terms, a TDIU rating pays 100 percent compensation, can be awarded on a P&T basis, and the only true requirement is that a veteran's service-connected impairment(s) preclude his or her ability to work.

Is TDIU the same as permanent and total disability? ›

TDIU can be, but is not necessarily, permanent.

It may be done in one of several ways: There may be a “Permanent and Total” (P&T) box on your form that is checked. The form may state “no further exams are scheduled” The letter may indicate you are eligible for Chapter 35 DEA or CHAMPVA benefits.

How hard is it to get TDIU from the VA? ›

Qualifying for schedular TDIU requires you to have at least one service-connected disability rated at least 60% OR two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40% or more, with a combined rating of 70% or more.

What is the 10 year rule for TDIU? ›

The 10-Year Rule is for Veterans who were honorably discharged more than five years ago but less than 10 years ago. To use this rule, you must show that your health condition began (or worsened) during active military service. The 20-Year Rule is for Veterans who were honorably discharged more than 10 years ago.

What is the difference between 100 and 100 TDIU? ›

The biggest difference between TDIU and a 100 percent rating is the impact TDIU has on a veteran's future employment status. There are no restrictions on a veteran's ability to work with a 100 percent schedular rating.

What is the 5 year rule for TDIU? ›

The VA 5-year rule protects your disability claim by not allowing the VA to reduce your disability rating unless your condition has significantly improved over time. This rule pertains to a rating that has been in effect for five years or longer. After a five-year period, the rating is considered a stabilized rating.

How far back does TDIU pay? ›

Unemployability back pay should go back to your effective date. Your effective date is typically when you originally filed a claim for disability benefits. It also can be the latest of either the date you filed a claim or the date a service-connected injury or eligibility otherwise arose, whichever one is later.

What benefits do veterans get with TDIU? ›

As of December 2022, the benefit amount for TDIU is the same as the highest schedular benefit amount available: $3,621.95 per month, along with free healthcare and other ancillary benefits. This amount increases for veterans who have spouses or dependent children or parents.

How long does it take for the VA to decide a TDIU claim? ›

How long will my TDIU claim take? The VA may take 4-10 months to issue an initial decision.

How often is TDIU reviewed? ›

Veterans assigned a TDIU rating will be subject to completing VA Form 21-4140: Employment Questionnaire, annually. This form verifies that the veteran has not taken part in substantially gainful employment over the past year. Note: There is a strict 60-day deadline to submit this form.

What are the limits for TDIU? ›

TDIU Income Limits

For 2022, the poverty threshold is $13,590 for a veteran with no dependents. This increases by $4,720 for each dependent. So, if you make $13,590 annually or more (as a veteran with no dependents), you'll typically be considered substantially gainfully employed.

Does TDIU stop at 67? ›

Yes, it is worth applying even if you are retired or getting ready to retire. Disability and TDIU benefits are not based on age or income. A veteran can be retired and still get other benefits, including TDIU benefits, permanent TDIU benefits, SMC benefits, and military retirement pay.

At what age does VA disability become permanent? ›

There is no set age of when your VA disability becomes permanent. The VA rater will determine “permanence” of a VA disability if it is reasonably certain, based upon medical evidence, that the level of impairment will continue for the rest of your life. Translation: Whether you're 35 or 75 years old it does not matter.

How much is the TDIU amount? ›

Benefit Amount for TDIU

A disabled veteran can receive over $3,000 a month from the VA in TDIU benefits. Additional money is awarded if a veteran is married or has dependent children or parents.

Does 70 PTSD qualify for TDIU? ›

This evidence, in conjunction with a finding of "disability" by the Social Security Administration (due to PTSD among other disorders), is sufficient to warrant a grant of a total disability rating due to individual unemployability. A rating of 70 percent, but no higher, is granted for PTSD. A TDIU is granted.

Is there a C&P exam for TDIU? ›

Once you submit an application for TDIU, the VA will schedule you for a compensation and pension (C&P) examination for the disabilities that you claimed make you unemployable. The purpose of C&P exams in a TDIU claim is to determine how your service-connected disabilities impact your ability to work.

What is the easiest way to get 100% VA disability? ›

A veteran can receive a temporary 100% rating when they are hospitalized for 21 or more days for a service-connected condition. A veteran can receive a 100% rating if they are having surgery for a service-connected condition and will require an extensive recovery time that limits their mobility.

Why are TDIU claims denied? ›

The VA makes three frequent mistakes in adjudicating TDIU claims: Requiring veterans to prove 100 percent unemployability from all forms of work, Considering age or non-service connected conditions, and. Failing to examine the veteran's educational and occupational history.

What is the income limit for VA TDIU in 2023? ›

Your yearly income must be $18,240 or less to continue receiving this benefit. Your yearly income must be $18,897 or less to continue receiving this benefit. Your yearly income must be $18,897 or less to continue receiving this benefit.

Is it hard to get TDIU for PTSD? ›

To receive TDIU, your PTSD must be rated 60% or higher if it is your only service-connected disability. If you have two or more service-connected disabilities, they must have a combined rating of 70% or higher with one that is rated 40% or higher.

What is 100% TDIU permanent and total benefits? ›

The goal of TDIU permanent and total benefits is to compensate veterans with a lower rating at the same level as veterans who receive 100% disability payments.

What is the difference between VA disability TDIU and IU? ›

IU stands for Individual Unemployability, while TDIU stands for Totally Disabled based on Individual Unemployability. Effectively, these are the same thing and the requirements for both are identical.

What are the benefits of VA unemployability? ›

Individual Unemployability (IU) is a unique part of VA's disability compensation program. It allows VA to pay certain Veterans compensation at the 100 percent rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at that level.

How long does unemployability last? ›

There are situations in which a Veteran can be granted IU indefinitely. It is often referred to as Total and Permanent, or TDIU. This often comes when a Veteran has lost a limb but is not limited to a situation like that. Also, if you have IU for 20 years or more, you are not likely subject to a review.

What is the percentage of VA disability for unemployability? ›

Both of these must be true:

You have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or 2 or more service-connected disabilities—with at least 1 rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more—and.


1. Why does VA make getting 100% so hard? #vadisabilitybenefits
(Hill and Ponton, P.A.)
2. Can the VA take away your 100% Permanent and Total Disability? Yes, They Can
(Combat Craig)
3. Can I Work With A 100 Percent VA Disability Rating?
(Combat Craig)
4. Qualification differences for VA 100% P&T and TDIU
(TJ fun 71)
5. 100% Permanent and Total Disability: What is it?
(Combat Craig)
6. What is the Difference Between 100% Permanent & Total Disability Ratings for Veterans from the VA.
(Woods and Woods, LLC, The Veteran's Firm)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dan Stracke

Last Updated: 10/02/2023

Views: 6125

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dan Stracke

Birthday: 1992-08-25

Address: 2253 Brown Springs, East Alla, OH 38634-0309

Phone: +398735162064

Job: Investor Government Associate

Hobby: Shopping, LARPing, Scrapbooking, Surfing, Slacklining, Dance, Glassblowing

Introduction: My name is Dan Stracke, I am a homely, gleaming, glamorous, inquisitive, homely, gorgeous, light person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.