Individual Unemployability Requirements for Veterans

If you have a service-connected disability that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to individual unemployability. If the VA grants a Veteran’s claim for individual unemployability, the Veteran will receive monthly compensation as if he or she has a 100 percent rating even if he or she is rated as low as 60 percent. This can be very beneficial to any Veteran as the difference between the compensation for a 70 percent and 100 percent disability rating is about $1,975 a month as of 2020.

Individual Unemployability Requirements

For a Veteran to qualify for unemployability benefits, they must meet the individual unemployability requirements:

  • The claimant is a Veteran;
  • The Veteran is unable to maintain “substantially gainful employment” because of a service-connected disability; and
  • Either:
    • The Veteran has 1 service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or higher; or
    • The Veteran has a combined rating of 70 percent with at least one service-connected disability rated at 40 percent or higher

“Substantially gainful employment” means that either the Veteran cannot work, the Veteran’s income is below the poverty line ($12,760 for a one-person household for 2020), or the Veteran works in a sheltered environment. Veterans in a sheltered environment receive major accommodations from his or her employer.  These accommodations may include a reduction in critical duties, shortened workdays, or lower productivity standards. Whatever the accommodations are, the employer should be incurring some type of loss by employing the Veteran. The most common example of a sheltered environment is a family business. The VA has not provided a more specific definition of “sheltered environment” so that each case may be judged on a case by case basis.

Reasons for Being Unemployable

A Veteran can be unemployable for physical or mental reasons. Examples may include:

  • A Veteran used to be a US Postal Service mail carrier but now has a service-connected back condition that prevents her from standing on her feet all day.
  • A Veteran used to be a bank teller but has such significant service-connected anxiety that prevents him from working in an open space like a bank lobby.
  • A Veteran has service-connected kidney failure and is required to go to 4-hour dialysis sessions 3 times during the workweek, which only allows the Veteran to work 25 hours a week at his $9 an hour retail job.

If you meet the individual unemployability requirements and receive compensation, the VA may request the Veteran to complete an employment questionnaire once a year to verify continuing eligibility. It is important that if a Veteran receives an employment questionnaire from the VA that the Veteran completes it and returns it as soon as possible. Failure to complete an employment questionnaire when requested may be grounds for the termination of his or her unemployability benefits.

Contact Berry Law Today

If you have a service-connected injury from your military service and are having difficulties receiving the money you deserve from the VA, give Berry Law a call today to see how we can help. Our team has experience fighting the VA on behalf of fellow Veterans.