Are you a veteran that is about to have surgery and be out of work for a while? Or did you already have surgery because of a service-connected condition and you fell behind financially? Temporary TDIU might be just for you.
Having to go through major surgery or long recovery period from an illness can be hard on more than just your body. You can’t work while you’re recovering, and that can spell financial disaster for many families. The good news is if you’re a veteran, you may be able to get a temporary disability rating to help cover your expenses while you heal.
Temporary total disability can be a bit of a confusing concept to navigate. Read on to learn more about this disability rating and how you could get the help you need while you’re recovering.
What We Cover in this Temporary TDIU Article
- What Is Total Disability?
- The Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Disability
- Three Circumstances for Temporary TDIU Disability
- Surgery Requirements for Temporary Disability
- Compensation Amounts for Total Disability
- How Long Do Temporary Benefits Last?
- Temporary Disability for Multiple Conditions
- How to Qualify for VA Disability
- Getting a Diagnosis
- Proving a Service Connection
- Getting a Medical Nexus
- What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
- Get a Temporary Disability Rating
What Is Total Disability?
Before we dive into temporary total disability, let’s talk about what total disability is in the first place. A total disability rating states that you have a medical condition that is so severe you are completely unable to live a normal, healthy life. This means you are entirely unable to work and cannot maintain healthy relationships or even your own personal hygiene.
The VA expresses a total disability rating as a 100 percent rating. The amount of compensation you receive from the VA each month will depend primarily on this disability rating. In general, VA disability compensation ratings are percentages rounded to the nearest 10 percent – 30 percent, 70 percent, and so on.
The Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Disability
In most cases, the VA will review your case and determine how severe your condition impacts your ability to live a normal, healthy life. They will then assign you a permanent rating that will influence your monthly compensation amount. You will probably keep this rating for the rest of your life or until your eligibility changes for some reason.
However, there are certain circumstances in which, while a veteran may be entitled to more compensation, the condition causing their problem will not last forever. In these cases, the VA awards temporary disability. After a certain amount of time, the VA will reassess your condition and assign you a permanent rating or take your disability away.
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Three Circumstances for Temporary TDIU Disability
There are three basic situations in which the VA may award temporary disability. These include prestabilization, hospitalization, and convalescence.
Prestabilization applies to veterans who have unstable, incapacitating conditions. This is often the result of an injury or condition that led to their discharge and can be expected to improve with treatment.
You may also get a 50 percent rating in prestabilization circumstances. This indicates that you have begun to recover from your injury or condition, but are not fully well yet. A 50 percent rating may also serve as a step between temporary total disability and a permanent rating.
The second temporary total disability category is hospitalization. You are eligible for this category if you have to spend at least twenty-one days in the hospital as a result of a service-related injury or condition. This also applies to people who are under hospital observation for at least twenty-one days.
In order to qualify for the hospitalization rating, you must get treatment at a medical center the VA either runs or has approved.
The effective date for this compensation will be the day your continuous hospitalization began. Your effective date is the date at which your compensation officially begins. You will keep getting compensation until the last day of the month in which you left the hospital.
The last type of temporary total disability is convalescence. The Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims defines convalescence as, “the stage of recovery following an attack of disease, a surgical operation, or an injury.”
Convalescence effectively gives you the time you need to recover. But it doesn’t require that you have an unstable diagnosed condition or remain in the hospital for a long period.
Of course, not every injury, illness, or operation will be eligible for convalescence compensation. You must have a recovery time of at least a month, and recovery must be severe enough to totally incapacitate you. You aren’t likely to get temporary total disability for spraining an ankle.
Here is a video review of one of our clients that was about to have the VA take away his veteran’s disability benefits.
Surgery Requirements for Temporary Disability
There are a few additional requirements you must meet to qualify for temporary total disability after a surgery. As we mentioned, you must have a recovery time of at least a month after the surgery. Otherwise, your treatment must be for a service-connected disability.
You must also have severe issues that cause long-term problems after your surgery.
Examples of qualifying problems can include surgical wounds that have not yet healed or stumps of recent amputations. You may also be unable to move due to being in splints or casts while you heal. You might also be unable to leave your house, or you might have to use a wheelchair or crutches.
Compensation Amounts for Total Disability
Your compensation amount for a temporary total disability claim will depend on a few factors. You will begin with a base-level monthly compensation of $3,621.95. If you are unmarried and have no other people depending on you financially, this will be your compensation amount for as long as you have a total disability rating.
The VA will also consider whether people depend on you financially when determining your compensation rate. For instance, if you are married and have a child, you could get hundreds more than $3,621.95 per month. If you have a spouse and a child and you take care of both of your parents, you could get almost $4,300 per month.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
How Long Do Temporary Benefits Last?
As the name suggests, temporary total disability benefits will not last forever. In general, these benefits will last between one and three months in the case of convalescence ratings. the amount of time you get compensation will depend on how long your recovery takes.
If you have a prestabilization rating, the VA will assess your condition over the year after your discharge. They may allow you to keep a total disability rating for the entire year, or they may drop you to a 50 percent rating or a lower permanent rating.
If you have a hospitalization rating, you will get compensation for as long as you are in the hospital. But after six months, the VA will assess you for a permanent rating.
What is the difference between Permanent and Total VA Disability Ratings? One of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains in this video:
Temporary Disability for Multiple Conditions
In many cases, veterans are dealing with multiple conditions at once, some of which may be mental health conditions. Multiple of these conditions may qualify for hospitalization, convalescence, and/or prestabilization. However, you can’t get multiple ratings for temporary total disability.
If you have multiple conditions that qualify for temporary total disability, the VA will consider only the most severe of these. Depending on the nature of these conditions, you may be eligible for a lower permanent rating on one or more of them after your temporary rating ends. These permanent ratings can be combined to get one overall disability rating.
How to Qualify for VA Disability
In order to qualify for any of these benefits, you’ll need to meet a few criteria. First and foremost, the VA requires that you get an official diagnosis for your condition or conditions.
In the case of an injury or operation, you may not need an ongoing condition diagnosis. But you will need a diagnosis of your injury and a record showing that your doctor ordered this treatment route.
You will also need to prove a service connection between your condition and your military service. In the case of prestabilization ratings, this may be very simple, since these conditions are often tied to the reason for your discharge. And finally, you will need a medical nexus from your doctor connecting your injury or condition with your military service.
Getting a Diagnosis
In order to qualify for any form of VA disability compensation, you will need an official diagnosis from a VA-approved doctor. If you’re getting treatment through a VA medical center, the doctors there will automatically meet VA approval standards. However, your own doctor will likely be fine, too, as long as they are a traditional medical doctor.
If you think you are eligible for a prestabilization rating, you may already have a diagnosis from a military doctor for your condition. In the cases of hospitalization or convalescence, you will need to get proper medical documentation from your doctors. They will need to provide an official reason for your treatment that requires a long recovery time.
Proving a Service Connection
Once you have your diagnosis, you’ll need to be able to prove a service connection for your condition. This means you’ll need to be able to point to a specific incident or set of conditions in your military service that caused your condition. In the case of temporary total disability ratings, this connection may be simpler.
If your prestabilization condition was the reason you were discharged from the military, your service connection will be automatic. In the case of convalescence or hospitalization ratings, you may have to do a little more work to prove a connection. You will need to show that the reason for your hospitalization or treatment was the direct result of an incident in your military service.
Getting a Medical Nexus
With your diagnosis and service connection in place, you’ll need to get a medical nexus from your doctor. This is effectively a statement verifying that your condition was at least as likely as not caused by your military service. This will be most important in cases where your temporary disability is happening long after your military service ends.
A medical nexus keeps veterans from claiming compensation for non-service-related conditions. For instance, you can’t break your ankle at the company softball game ten years after you leave military service and claim disability. However, if you broke your ankle in basic training or in your military service, you can get compensation for that injury.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
If your temporary total disability claim is denied, don’t worry. You can always appeal your decision. You may still be able to collect compensation beginning from the date you filed your first application.
If you plan to appeal your VA disability decision, you may want to consider hiring some experts to help you through the process. The appeals process involves a lot of confusing deadlines and added evidence requirements.
A lawyer specializing in veteran law can help you meet all the appeal deadlines. They can also give you insider tips and tricks to make your appeal more successful. We know which evidence you need to include, as well as how to present that evidence to make your case as strong as possible.
Get a Temporary Disability Rating
Recovering from a severe illness or serious operation can be challenging, and if you’re a veteran, you may be entitled to a temporary disability rating. Talk to your local VA office about which rating style fits your situation best, and make sure you meet all the criteria for that rating. If your claim is denied, don’t give up; you can always appeal and get the compensation you deserve.
If you’d like help with your temporary total disability case, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today to start getting the guidance you need to have a successful claim the first time.