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Why You Need To Understand VA Unemployability Rates

Last updated: March 24, 2024

Most veterans suffer from unemployability due to their service-connected disabilities. In 2022, approximately 2.8% of all U.S. veterans were jobless, the majority of whom had a disability rating of over 30%. Veterans who are unable to obtain and secure employment as a result of their service-related injury may qualify for VA Unemployability Benefits.

VA Unemployability provides disability compensation and benefits to eligible veterans. In this article, we’ll cover the eligibility requirements for VA Unemployability, along with the types of disability covered. Read the article below to learn more. 

What Is VA Unemployability?

Total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU), also known as VA unemployability, is a disability benefit that enables U.S. veterans to receive compensation at a 100% VA disability rate, even if they have less than a 100% total combined schedular rating. 

This benefit is provided to veterans who suffer from unemployment as a result of their service-connected disability. Qualified veterans are entitled to the following benefits:

Tax-Free Financial Aid. Beneficiaries of the TDIU will receive non-taxable monthly payments that are equal to the VA's 100% disability compensation rate.

Health Care Benefits. Veterans with TDIU are entitled to health care benefits, such as free medical treatments, hospitalization coverage, and discounts on prescriptions. 

Vocational Rehabilitation. To help veterans find work, VA offers educational assistance, job training, and subsistence allowance. 

Dependents’ Educational Assistance. Eligible dependents of veterans with TDIU benefits may receive educational assistance that covers tuition, books, miscellaneous fees, and transportation. 

Special Monthly Compensation. Veterans with serious injuries or illnesses that require constant aid and attention are entitled to special monthly compensation (SMC). 

Who Qualifies For VA Unemployability

Not all veterans may qualify for disability benefits from the VA. Only those veterans who were honorably discharged and are unable to find or maintain “substantially gainful” employment are eligible for Individual Unemployability benefits.  

Basic Information About VA Unemployability

As with other disability assistance programs of the Department of Veteran Affairs, the VA Unemployability, or TDIU, has specific eligibility requirements, rating criteria, and disability coverage. Learn more below. 

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for VA Unemployability benefits is dependent on your disability ratings. The applicant must meet the following schedular rating requirements to qualify:

  • A service-connected disability with at least a 60% VA disability rating.
  • The combined rating of multiple service-related disabilities must be 70%, and one of the disabilities must have a disability rating of 40% or higher.

However, veterans who do not qualify under schedular rating requirements may still be eligible for extraschedular TDIU. 

Proper documentation is also necessary to receive Individual Unemployability benefits. These may include:

  • A completed VA Form 21-8940
  • Medical evidence or documents of your service-connected disability or injury
  • A copy of your VA disability rating letter
  • A written letter that details how your service-related disability prevents you from finding or maintaining work. 

Types Of Disabilities Covered By VA Unemployability

All service-connected disabilities or injuries are covered by VA Unemployability. A physical or mental condition is considered service-connected if it was incurred or aggravated before, during, or after a veteran’s active service in the military. The 38 CFR Part 4 contains a complete list of all medical conditions recognized by the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD). 

Understanding The Rating Criteria

The VA assigns a disability rating for each service-related injury or illness you have based on its severity and its impact on overall health and bodily function. Each medical condition is designated a specific disability percentage, which may range from 10% to 100%.

The TDIU employs two types of ratings: schedular and extraschedular. Unlike the schedular rating, the extraschedular rating allows disabled veterans to receive a higher rating than what they would normally receive using the standard VA rating criteria. This is meant to compensate veterans with severe medical conditions that are not adequately reflected by a schedular disability rating. 

Overview Of Disability Ratings And Percentages

Below is a detailed overview of other disability ratings and percentages used by the VA in special circumstances. 

Combined Ratings And Schedular Ratings

The VA Combined Ratings Chart is used to determine the appropriate disability rating for veterans with multiple service-connected disabilities. The individual disability ratings of each medical condition are combined (not added) to identify the veteran’s combined disability rating.

Schedular rating, on the other hand, is the value that signifies the severity of one or more of your service-connected disabilities. Depending on the severity of the impairment, you might be entitled to disability compensation ranging from 10% to 100%.

Understanding Individual Unemployability (IU)

Individual Unemployability is a distinct component of the VA’s effort to provide assistance to veterans with service-connected disabilities. It allows the VA to provide disability benefits and compensation equivalent to the benefits given under a 100% disability rating, even if their schedular rating is less than 100%


Veterans that are physically or mentally unable to secure employment may be eligible for VA Unemployability Benefits. There are two ways to qualify for Individual Unemployability: schedular and extraschedular. 

If you require further assistance with understanding VA unemployability rates, read this article from Disability Help on the benefits of hiring a VA disability lawyer. 

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