Introduction to TDIU and SSDI Benefits
First, let’s cover the basics of both disability benefits. If you have an understanding of both benefits, you might just want to jump ahead to another section. Our goal is to be able to teach every veteran about TDIU and SSDI benefits.
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are through the Veterans Benefits Administration and are only for veterans. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are monthly payments for veterans and civilians who are disabled and have enough work credits to be eligible.
TDIU benefits consider only your direct service-connected disabilities and your secondary service-connected disabilities. SSDI benefits are compensable for non-service-connected disabilities and also your direct and secondary service-connected conditions.
The Social Security Administration currently processes claims much faster than the Veterans Benefits Administration. It would be wise for many unemployed veterans to apply for both benefits. You may be awarded one benefit and forced to appeal the other benefit. In other words, if you can’t work, apply for both because you need financial assistance right away.
If you are awarded one benefit, then you’ll have an income during the appeal phase for the other benefit.
Remember, the VA disability process is very slow. Most appeals take over four years. There are currently more than 470,000 appeals waiting for decisions at the VA. One veteran fought the VA appeals process by himself for six decades. While that isn’t common, it shows you how archaic the VA system can be without proper guidance.
Learn More: Calculate your rating with our VA Disability Benefits Rating Calculator
Common TDIU and SSDI Misconceptions
Misconception #1: If I’m awarded one benefit I automatically get the other.
Wrong. That simply isn’t true. For example, many veterans are awarded TDIU and denied SSDI benefits, or vice-versa. Each claim will be decided independently of the other.
Misconception #2: If I’m denied one benefit I am automatically denied the other benefit.
False. The VA and SSA will determine your eligibility separate from what the other agency decides.
Misconception #3: There is an offset if I receive both TDIU and SSDI benefits.
Incorrect. There is no offset if you receive TDIU and SSDI benefits. Many veterans get this wrong because there might be an offset with SSI benefits, not SSDI benefits.
Misconception #4: I can send my applications to the same place.
Nope. You need to send your TDIU claim to the Veterans Benefits Administration and your SSDI claim to the Social Security Administration.
Misconception #5: I can only be compensated by one agency for each disability.
False. Suppose you are disabled and can’t work because of severe schizophrenia, you can claim schizophrenia on both your TDIU and SSDI applications.
Misconception #6: TDIU and SSDI have the same requirements.
Incorrect, sorry. TDIU and SSDI have very different requirements, which we’ll explain later in this article. You’ll find that the VA’s TDIU requirements are much more favorable towards veterans than SSDI requirements. The Individual Unemployability fact sheet can break down eligibility for TDIU claims in detail.
Misconception #7: I should argue my evidence the same for my TDIU and SSDI claims.
Don’t do this! Now, don’t lie. But remember, the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration will look at evidence differently. There’s a section later dedicated to this very important topic.
Misconception #8: Free veterans services are adequate for TDIU and SSDI claims.
This is generally untrue. The VA’s own numbers show your chances of winning a VA disability appeal is lower with free veterans organizations. Many of them simply don’t have the resources to get medical reports (also covered later) and they don’t have support staff to do research on TDIU claims. Many veterans will find free service organizations are not equipped to help with SSDI claims.
Misconception #9: A TDIU rating is the same as a 100% rating.
Nope. There is a difference between an Individual Unemployability rating and a 100% rating. Many veterans get this confused because they pay the same. Your TDIU rating will be based upon the severity of your service-connected conditions and your unemployability factors. A 100% rating will be based solely upon the severity of your service-connected conditions.
Misconception #10: Veterans cannot receive a 100% rating and SSDI benefits at the same time.
Untrue. Veterans can receive 100% VA Disability and Social Security Disability at the same time.
Misconception #11: If I already have one benefit that helps me get the other benefit.
That is an incorrect statement. Already having one benefit will not affect your chances of getting the other benefit. If you already have SSDI benefits, you could get your TDIU claim expedited, but it really doesn’t speed up your claim much.
Misconception #12: I can work full time and receive TDIU benefits.
False. Many veterans are denied TDIU benefits because of the VA Unemployability income limits. If you make too much money, you may not be eligible for TDIU benefits. Your SSDI payments will not be counted as income for TDIU purposes.
TDIU and SSDI Evidence Use
Alcohol and Drug Use
Let’s say you are filing a PTSD claim and want to obtain a 100% permanent and total PTSD rating. Drug and alcohol use will not necessarily hurt your chances of winning – same goes for a VA TDIU rating for PTSD. Many veterans self-medicate by using drugs and alcohol. At the same time, if your disabilities are caused by or worsened by drug and alcohol usage, that may devastate your SSDI claim.
TDIU and SSDI claims allow veterans to submit reports from medical doctors. You may want to use different reports for your TDIU and SSDI claims. For example, the report for your TDIU claim will want to link your conditions to your military service and your unemployability. Remember, SSDI will not consider service-connection so covering that in your report takes away from your central argument and is a moot point.
The Social Security Administration has rules that mean you must submit favorable and unfavorable evidence even if not material. The VA does not necessarily have the same rules. TDIU claims mostly require evidence of service-connection, the severity of the condition, and how those conditions prevent you from working.
Reports from vocational experts can help your TDIU and SSDI claims. Remember, the VA wants evidence. Many veterans should use two different reports from a vocational expert. One report should be tailored for your TDIU claim and the other one tailored for your SSDI claim.
TDIU and SSDI Eligibility Differences
TDIU eligibility will not consider your age. While SSDI claims will consider your age. As we stated earlier, TDIU eligibility guidelines are much more favorable towards veterans than SSDI benefits.
TDIU and SSDI benefits will examine your disability’s causation differently. The VA will only consider your direct and secondary service-connected conditions for TDIU claims. At the same time, SSDI claims will consider all your disabilities, whether service-connected or not.
TDIU and SSDI benefits will examine your work history differently. TDIU benefits will consider whether or not you can do your past work. However, SSDI benefits will consider if you can do other jobs.
Appeals for TDIU and SSDI Benefits Denials
Many veterans are denied Individual Unemployability and Social Security Disability. Don’t let a denial discourage you from fighting for what’s yours. Remember, you earned both of these benefits by serving our country and being a taxpayer.
You only have a limited amount of time to appeal a TDIU and SSDI denial. Veterans have one year to file a TDIU appeal and only sixty days to appeal an SSDI denial.
A very large number of veterans are denied because of mistakes the VA made. At the same time, lots of veterans are denied TDIU and SSDI benefits because they don’t understand disability law. There are extensive laws, federal regulations, previous legal cases, and more that will affect your TDIU and SSDI benefit claims. Using evidence in TDIU and SSDI claims can be an art.
Get Help From Our TDIU and SSDI Benefits Lawyers
Get help from the VA disability compensation lawyers and Social Security Disability denial lawyers at Woods & Woods. Since 1985, our law firm has successfully represented thousands of injured people nationwide.
Free Legal Consultation
You can reach out to our lawyers and discuss your TDIU and SSDI claims. There’s never a fee to obtain legal advice from Woods & Woods.
Help With Applications
There is never a fee for help with your TDIU and SSDI applications. We can make sure you understand how to apply and what you need to put on your application. You can ask questions and we’ll answer them.
You Only Pay If We Win You Appeal
You only pay the lawyers at Woods & Woods if your TDIU and SSDI claims are successful. If you do not win your TDIU and SSDI claims, you don’t pay our law firm a penny. When you can’t work, you probably can’t pay a lawyer upfront – that’s fine. Our fee is a percentage of the settlement and case expenses. We will never touch your future benefits – they are yours!