Category: Veterans Disability Law
How to Get Total and Permanent Disability from the VA
VA Total and Permanent Disability: Permanent 100% VA Disability Benefits & Eligibility
Total and permanent disability benefits refer to benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for those veterans who are considered 100% disabled by the VA. If you are a U.S. military veteran and are dealing with your own service-related disability, you may qualify to receive monthly disability payments through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans’ disability benefits are tax-free and paid to those who have injuries or disabilities sustained while on active duty or worsened by active military service.
In order to qualify for disability benefits from the VA, you must meet certain requirements. The basic requirements when applying for disability include the following:
- You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
- Applicant’s disability must have (1) been caused by military service or (2) been worsened by military service
If you’re unsure if you are eligible for total and permanent VA disability, contact our experienced attorneys for more information.
What is VA Total and Permanent Disability? What Is Considered Permanently and Totally Disabled?
To be eligible for permanent and total disability (P&T) compensation, a veteran must be affected by a service-connected disability that is both “total” and “permanent.” To warrant a permanent and total disability rating, the veteran must have a condition that is fully disabling and does not show signs of improvement. Some conditions that could potentially warrant P&T ratings are blindness, paralysis or loss of both legs, or any condition that leaves the veteran bedridden.
What Is Permanent Disability? Is My Disability Permanent?
A “permanent” disability is one that shows little to no sign of improvement. Essentially, the condition will affect you for the entirety of your life. VA relies on medical evidence to show with reasonable certainty that the severity of a service-connected condition will continue indefinitely. This is one of the few circumstances in which VA is allowed to consider the veteran’s age as a factor. While a young veteran may have the chance to recover from certain muscle or bone injuries through physical therapy or surgery, an older veteran may not have the time or energy for that. Therefore they will be more likely to get a permanent rating than the younger veteran.
100% VA Rating and 100 Total Combined Disability
The other aspect of permanent and total is “total.” This term implies that a veteran’s disability is completely disabling. VA ratings are intended to represent the severity of a disability. They are determined based on a scheduled rating that ranges from 0 to 100 in increments of 10. 100% is the highest VA disability rating a veteran can receive, and 0% is the lowest. The higher an individual’s disability rating, the more compensation they will be awarded. A total rating is valued at 100%.
Veterans can also receive a total rating if they have two or more separately rated disabilities that result in a combined score of 100%.
Calculating Your Disability Rating: How Does VA Disability Work?
The amount of your VA disability benefits is based on the severity of your disability. Those struggling with several disabilities or impairments may receive a higher “rating,” resulting in increased benefits. However, multiple impairment ratings are not cumulative. In other words, if you have two impairments each rated at 30%, this does not automatically mean your rating will be 60%—it would actually end up being 51%. VA would then round 51% to the nearest 10%, resulting in a final VA disability rating of 50%. Check out the VA combined disability rating calculator for more information.
Applying for benefits can be a lengthy, complicated process. If you experience delays or problems from errors when applying for benefits, our experienced attorneys can help. Additionally, it is important to note that receiving VA compensation should not affect your Social Security.
VA Permanent and Total Disability Benefits
If you are a disabled veteran and have been approved for total and permanent disability benefits, you may be eligible for some or all of the following:
- Health benefits including primary care, preventative care, dental care, and nursing home placement
- Housing or housing grants
- Vehicle registration
- Benefits for dependents including healthcare, dental care, and more
- Tax waivers
- Monthly financial compensation (see VA compensation chart)
For those hoping to qualify for 100% total and permanent disability, consistent medical treatment is important. To better support your claim, proving you have consistently received medical treatment and have accordant, up-to-date records will be a crucial part of the application process. If you have not kept up on medical treatment, it is recommended you receive a medical evaluation in order to file a medical report with your claim.
What Is Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU)?
Total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) is a rating given to veterans that cannot obtain or keep substantially gainful employment. If the veteran’s service-connected disability prevents them from maintaining an income above the U.S. poverty level, VA considers them unable to work.
VA will also consider veterans who work in a sheltered employment situation. This is a job where the veteran gets breaks that others may not get, or where the employer is a family member or friend. Seasonal jobs are not included as substantially gainful employment.
TDIU benefits are equivalent to a full 100% VA disability rating.
TDIU vs. 100% Total Disability
Just because an individual qualifies for TDIU, that does not necessarily mean they will receive a P&T disability rating. TDIU can be awarded for temporary conditions, P&T cannot. To receive a P&T disability rating, a veteran must have one disability rated at 100%, or multiple disability ratings that combine to equal 100%. Alternatively, TDIU has a complicated formula that requires the veteran to prove they cannot work in a substantially gainful work environment. A veteran could be awarded TDIU with a single disability rated at 60%, or with a combined score of at least 70%.
VA Temporary Total Disability Rating
If a veteran has been hospitalized for more than 20 days, VA will provide them with a temporary 100% disability rating. VA will also pay at a 100% rate if a veteran receives surgery that takes more than 30 days to recover from. When the veteran is finished recovering or leaves the hospital, they will be reassessed for a new rating.
Is Individual Unemployability Permanent?
TDIU is awarded when a veteran cannot get or keep a job and is not necessarily permanent. TDIU is merely responsible for covering the lost income of a veteran who is not capable of working. If at any point that veteran once again becomes capable or gets and keeps a job that provides them with a substantially gainful income, they will no longer qualify for TDIU benefits.
When Is TDIU Permanent and Total?
So when can TDIU be permanent and total? For TDIU to be permanent and total a veteran’s condition must meet all the regular requirements of a P&T disability along with those of TDIU. This means the veteran must have one or more conditions that result in a 100% rating, show no signs of improving, and also prevent the veteran from working in substantially gainful employment.
Can the VA Reduce a Permanent and Total Rating? Is VA Disability for Life?
It is important to understand that the VA may reduce or adjust a veteran’s total disability benefits. If you do not meet a rating or requirement, you could lose your total disability status. When a P&T disability rating is assigned, VA assumes that the condition of your injury will never improve. If for some reason your condition heals in some way or begins to improve, VA will assign you a new rating that more accurately reflects the extent to which you are disabled.
Typically, veterans will be disabled for a large portion of their life, if not its entirety. As they get older, conditions may worsen at an unnatural pace, resulting in an increased rating. However, VA does not guarantee that any VA disability benefits will last for life. If your situation changes and you can once again work or live your life unaffected by a service-connected disability, VA is allowed to reassess your situation and determine compensation eligibility.
VA Permanent and Total Disability and Working: Can a Permanent and Total Disabled Veteran Work?
The important term here is “substantially gainful employment.” Aside from the fact that a P&T disabled veteran may have serious difficulties trying to work a physical or sedentary job, there are only specific jobs they can work if they plan to keep their benefits. Veterans can work seasonal jobs or sheltered employment jobs which do not pay income above the poverty threshold and still receive monthly financial compensation.
Although the P&T disability rating is not the same as TDIU, normal VA disability ratings also depend heavily on an individual’s ability to work. Even though veterans who qualify for TDIU do not always receive a permanent and total rating, individuals who do receive a permanent and total rating are almost always unable to find or keep substantially gainful employment.
What Happens if a 100% Disabled Veteran is Denied Social Security Benefits?
VA is not the only entity that pays out disability benefits—Social Security also has a program for disabled individuals. However, the criteria and processes for earning VA and Social Security disability benefits are not the same. Even if you receive a 100% permanent and total disability rating from VA, that does not necessarily mean you will qualify for benefits from Social Security.
These programs do not overlap, meaning any compensation received from one will not affect the other. This also means that if you are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), there is nothing VA can do to help you. It is your responsibility to submit the required documentation and convince them of your disability.
Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs
CHAMPVA provides benefits for the children and spouses of veterans. A veteran’s children and spouse are eligible to receive healthcare under CHAMPVA if that veteran has a P&T rating. Healthcare benefits will also be provided to surviving children and spouses of P&T disabled veterans who died as a result of a service-connected disability.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefits
If a veteran receiving P&T benefits passes away, their surviving dependents may be eligible for DIC. For VA to award DIC benefits, the late veteran must have had a P&T rating for 10 years prior to their death. If the veteran had a P&T rating for any amount of time shorter than 10 years before their death, dependents will only qualify for DIC benefits if the late veteran died from a service-connected condition.
Receiving Your VA Permanent Disability Letter
Ideally, you will know if you qualify for VA total and permanent disability because VA will inform you in your initial decision letter. However, if you believe you should qualify and VA does not agree, you may have to submit an additional letter to convince them that you are unable to work as a result of your service-connected disability.
Hiring legal counsel can help you prove to VA that you deserve TDIU or a 100% rating.
Tuley Law Office | Nationwide VA Disability Lawyers
Tuley Law Office has experienced VA disability lawyers that understand how to get you the compensation you deserve. Proving P&T disability can be the difference between poverty and a stable income for the rest of your life. If you are permanently unable to work or obtain substantially gainful employment as a result of your disability, reach out to Tuley Law Office today.
If you have questions about total and permanent disability, contact us by phone at (812) 625-2053 or fill out the contact form on our website. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
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