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I have a job, does that mean I cannot get TDIU?
No. In fact, TDIU (or just “IU) benefits are available under certain situations even if you are
working. However, income earned from employment must be at or below the poverty level, or
from a job that is considered to be “sheltered”. These types of employment are not considered as
substantially gainful employment (SGE), but rather “marginal employment”. Marginal
employment is considered as “earned annual income that does not exceed the poverty threshold
for one person as established by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.” For
2016, the poverty level for which a veteran must be working under was $11,880.
A “sheltered” job could be something like a family business, sheltered workshop, or a position
created or modified to your own needs and is considered to be marginal employment, even if
that job earns an income over the current poverty amount. Sheltered employment means that
you are given special treatment due to your service connected disabilities that would not
normally be given to other employees. For example: a veteran with PTSD works for a family
friend’s business. The family friend provides the veteran with an office and duties that only
require limited interaction with other people. The veteran’s salary pays his bills, and is over the
current poverty threshold. But, because the job has been created to his individual needs (limited
interaction with other people), his job is considered to be sheltered, and therefore falls under
“marginal employment.” The VA cannot consider this job as being SGE, and must not use it
against him in determining IU status.

Questions? Comments? Need More Info?
Roger Hale
Veterans Law Attorney

From the Desk of Drew Early, Veterans Law Attorney

The CAVC recently decided a case involving IU, more specifically, when a veteran is to be considered as working in a “protected environment” such that the veteran is employed but wouldn’t be otherwise because of special accommodations made for the veteran in the workplace.  In such an example, the veteran’s earnings would not necessarily preclude a grant of IU. In the case at point, the veteran ostensibly had a full-time (and very responsible job) as a park ranger—even carrying a weapon as part of his duties.  Due to a service-connected condition, he routinely had to go to the bathroom quite often.  He sought IU, arguing that his employer had made special accommodations  for him and without those accommodations, he couldn’t work there.  Therefore, in his view, it was a protected environment and his earnings, although above the minimum typically defining “substantial gainful activity”, shouldn’t keep him from getting IU. VA disagreed and said that in this case, he was working and it should not be considered as a protective environment “because VA knows what a protected environment is when it sees it” (paraphrasing the Court). The Court disagreed with VA and said VA needs to come up with a definition of protected environment.  So, in all the recent furor about IU, be careful what you ask for.  Looks like the Agency will continue to formalize and further define rules around IU; rules consistent with the determination of unemployability in other Federal agencies. 

Drew Early, Veterans Law Attorney

Veterans Legal Aid Web Site

What Is Individual Unemployability?

Individual Unemployability is a part of VA’s disability compensation

program that allows VA to pay certain veterans

compensation at the 100% rate, even though VA has

not rated their service-connected disabilities at the total level.

What Is the Eligibility Criteria for Individual Unemployability?

A veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful

employment as a result of his/her service-connected disabilities.

Additionally, a veteran must have:

One service-connected disability ratable at 60 percent or more,


Two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one

disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined ratingof 70 percent or more.

VA Form 21-526EZ

Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection

IncreasedDisability Compensation

Temporary Total Disability Rating
 Individual Unemployability
Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151
 Special Monthly Compensation
Specially Adapted Housing

Special Home Adaptation

Automobile Allowance/Adaptive Equipment
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child

VA Form 21-0958 - NOD
​Notice of Disagreement

VA Form 21-534 EZ
Application for DIC, Death Pension

Change of Address​

Add Your Dependents

Declaration of Status of Dependents

TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140

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The VA Form 21-4140
Dear Mr. Strickland;
I was awarded IU in 2013. No where in the rating letter did it mention I needed to send in a

VA Form 21-4140, to verify employment for the last year.  One of the letters in my package

from June 12, 2013 is a letter saying I now have commissary and exchange privileges. 

It goes on to say "This is to certify that veteran is an honorably discharged

veteran of the Air Force and has service-connected disability evaluated as 100 percent. 

The veteran has not been scheduled for future examinations".
Today I received in the mail a form Seattle VA a letter saying "We recently sent you a VA

Form 21-4140, "Employment Questionnaire".  This form is sent periodically to all

veterans who have been granted entitlement to total disability payments based on

Unemployability.  It is your personal verification of employment history over the

past year.  It is required to be completed and returned if you

wish to maintain your current Unemployment status.
We have no record that you have completed and returned this form to us..
We propose to discontinue your entitlement to Individual Unemployment.

VA FORM 21-4140.  My initial rating letter for IU does not

mention I need to verify my employment yearly.  I am on social security and have

not worked in three years.  I worked at the VA until May 2012 and had to quit

because of VA disability.  All this was put in the package when I applied for IU.  I am 65 years old.

Do you know if I only need to submit the form 21-4140-1, or do I need to submit it

with ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?  I just don't understand getting this letter from the VA. 

Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. 


The event you're experiencing with the 4140 form is routine. They forget to mail it

and then blame it on you. Don't make this a bigger deal than it is.

Just complete the form accurately and return to the Evidence Intake Center.

​The VA Claims Intake Center
Department of Veterans Affairs
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI  53547-5235

Toll Free FAX Janesville – 844-822-5246

Use Certified Mail!!!

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO BOX 4444
JANESVILLE, WI 53547- 4444

Toll Free Fax: 844-531-7818

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Contact your VARO

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Find your region here.

We often refer to Individual Unemployability as TDIU or IU.

The Individual Unemployability Benefit is equal in every way to a 100%

Schedular rating. The compensation is 100% and that dollar amount is equal to both ratings.

If the veteran is rated as 100% Schedular, he or she may work at any job

they are capable of doing. The veteran who is rated as IU may not hold "gainful employment".

The IU veteran is required to complete a yearly VA Form 21-4140 to verify that there has

been no employment in the previous year. Each Regional Office seems to have its

own way of delivering these forms, all too often they don't deliver them at all.

It is the veterans responsibility to

ensure that the 4140 is completed and delivered to VA (to the Evidence Intake Center)

on or about the anniversary of the award each year.

The veteran should download the form, print it and deliver it to an Evidence Intake Center.

 Either the 100% Schedular 

rating or the 100% IU rating may be rated as Permanent and Total (P&T).

Either rating may be a temporary one with future examinations scheduled.

Veterans Disability Lawyer

​​​How to Apply for TDIU Benefits
Greg Rada

Veterans Law Attorney

A “total disability rating based on individual unemployability,” often referred to as 

TDIU, IU, or individual unemployability, is an avenue for the VA to compensate a

veteran who can’t work due to service-connected disabilities at the 100% rate when 

the veteran’s disabilities do not actually combine to 100%.

How do I file a claim for TDIU benefits?

Current VA policy requires a veteran to complete and submit VA Form 21-8940

(available here) before VA will decide a claim for TDIU benefits. It is imperative

that a veteran who wants to be considered for individual

unemployability benefits submit a VA Form 21-8940.

In some instances, VA will send you the form if the evidence in your claim

expressly or reasonably raises the issue of individual unemployability benefits.

But don’t wait for VA to prompt you – if you cannot work due to your service-connected

conditions, begin the process of completing and submitting the form as soon as possible.

What is an “inferred” claim for TDIU benefits?

If you filed a compensation claim that included evidence indicating you are

unemployable due to a service-connected disability, the VA is then obligated to

consider and decide entitlement to TDIU benefits. For example, if you filed a claim to 

increase your PTSD rating, and the evidence you submitted in support of that claim

includes a statement from a psychiatrist that you are unable to work as a

result of your PTSD, you have submitted an “inferred” claim for TDIU benefits.

Inferred claims can be used to get an earlier effective date if you’ve already been

granted entitlement to individual unemployability benefits. If the evidence in your claim

created an inferred claim, then in certain situations, the date of that inferred claim

should serve as the effective date for the grant of TDIU benefits. VA will rarely

self identify an inferred claim, so it’s important to have

someone review your file for potential entitlement to an earlier effective date.

More questions?

Call or email me if you were recently denied entitlement to TDIU

benefits or were recently granted entitlement but think you deserve an earlier

effective date. Remember, you only have one year to file

a notice of disagreement against a VA rating decision.

Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Benefits

TDIU  IU  Total Disability         Individual Unemployability