How To Qualify For TDIU For PTSD

How To Qualify For TDIU For PTSD

If you have PTSD, your symptoms may significantly affect your ability to work, maintain relationships, and function in everyday life. Some of the most debilitating symptoms of PTSD are: 

  • Reliving: Veterans with PTSD may have troubling and disturbing memories that come back in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. A traumatic experience can have painful, long-term effects, leaving a Veteran with memories that are hard to shake. These recurring flashbacks and nightmares can cause insomnia and other problems for many Veterans with PTSD. 
  • Avoidance: A traumatic experience can form deep associations in the mind of a person living with PTSD. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, certain people and situations may be extremely triggering for you. Because of the intensity of the associations your brain has formed with your trauma, you may start avoiding certain circumstances to avoid feeling anxious and overwhelmed. 
  • Arousal: PTSD can also cause intense feelings of chronic stress anxiety. The disorder can make you constantly feel anxious as if something is wrong that you cannot identify. This feeling can lead to panic attacks and becoming easily overwhelmed by triggering stimuli. 
  • Negative Thoughts and Feelings: People living with PTSD can feel intense guilt, shame, frustration, and other negative feelings in response to traumatic memories. Your trauma can make you feel the need to isolate yourself from friends, family, and the rest of the world, which can significantly impact your mental health.

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may be dealing with service-connected PTSD. Make sure to visit your doctor and get your condition evaluated as soon as possible – treatments like therapy and medication can significantly improve your symptoms.

TDIU for Service-Connected PTSD

A Veteran’s ability to continue working while suffering from PTSD depends on the severity, frequency, and duration of the symptoms they experience. PTSD can affect people differently, and the symptoms of the disorder are sometimes more manageable for some sufferers than for others. If you are seeking VA disability benefits for PTSD, the disability rating that you receive from the VA will depend largely on how severe your symptoms are.

The VA sometimes grants very high disability ratings to Veterans with PTSD. Some Veterans with service-connected PTSD may even receive the highest possible disability rating – 100%. A 100% disability rating typically indicates that a Veteran’s disability is so debilitating that they can’t work or function normally in everyday life.

What Is TDIU?

Put simply, Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is a special disability benefits status in which a Veteran receives a 100% disability benefits rating, even if their disabilities wouldn’t normally add up to 100% under the typical rating schedule.

TDIU is intended to compensate Veterans who cannot acquire or maintain substantially gainful employment because of a combination of rated disabilities. Veterans can only acquire TDIU if they can’t maintain substantially gainful employment directly because of their service-connected disabilities.

What Requirements Do You Need To Qualify for TDIU?

Many Veterans with 100% disability ratings have qualified for TDIU. To qualify for TDIU for service-connected PTSD, Veterans must first meet the following requirements:

  1. To qualify for TDIU, a disabled Veteran with service-connected PTSD must have a rating of at least 60% for an individual condition – including PTSD – or a rating of 70% when one disability is combined with other conditions. At least one of the combined conditions needs to be rated 40 percent or more to qualify for TDIU.  
  2. A Veteran’s PTSD or combined service-connected conditions must prevent them from maintaining substantially gainful employment. In other words, a Veteran needs to be so severely disabled by PTSD or other conditions that they cannot keep working.

Some Veterans can be granted TDIU with a PTSD rating at 50 percent because they are service-connected for other conditions, leading to a combined rating that is 70 percent or higher. The benefit of having your TDIU based on one condition is that it puts you in a position for special monthly compensation (additional benefits) if you have other disabilities rated at 60 percent or more.

Furthermore, some Veterans may qualify for TDIU extra schedular consideration. In a nutshell, extra-schedular TDIU is granted for exceptional or unusual disabilities, such as disabilities that may require a Veteran to frequently receive or visit a facility for medical attention or that would otherwise make employment impractical.

For example, if a Veteran has a condition that does not usually result in a 100% disability rating, which nonetheless requires them to go to the hospital every week, such a condition would logically impact their employment prospects. Thus, they may qualify for TDIU if they apply for extra schedular consideration.

Can All Unemployed Veterans Qualify for TDIU?

Not all unemployed Veterans can qualify for TDIU. In fact, Veterans generally cannot qualify for total and permanent disability based on individual unemployability if they are already gainfully employed. It doesn’t matter how your disabilities or injuries impact your life if you can hold down a job.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, however, such as self-employment. For instance, if you can maintain limited self-employed income by doing remote work, you may still qualify for TDIU and related benefits. These exceptions, however, can be difficult to prove to the VA, especially without the assistance of knowledgeable attorneys. Generally, if you are employed, you do not qualify for TDIU.

That said, if you are currently working but feel like you may get fired or may be forced to quit because of your service-connected disabilities, don’t wait. It’s important to start gathering documents and evidence for your claim now. This evidence can include:

  • Timesheets that show how much time you had to take off work
  • Negative performance reviews
  • Sick slips
  • Letters from coworkers or superiors documenting your inability to work consistently

PTSD and Employment 

If an unemployed Veteran has an individual PTSD rating of 70%, it would be worthwhile for him or her to file for TDIU. A 70% rating indicates very severe symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty handling stress: Since PTSD can lead to hyper-arousal and bouts of severe anxiety, many Veterans suffering from the disorder have an extremely hard time in stressful situations. Since stress is a normal part of everyday life and work, many Veterans with PTSD cannot function well enough to stay employed. 
  • Impaired impulse control: Some Veterans suffering from PTSD may struggle to contain and regulate their emotions. This can lead to poor judgment, impulsive decision-making, and even outbursts of anger.

    When a Veteran’s PTSD has caused them to become erratic and impulsive, they are much more likely to find themselves in trouble at work or cause conflict in their workplace. 
  • Nearly continuous panic or depression: These debilitating feelings can end up affecting a Veteran’s ability to function independently, effectively, and appropriately. If you are dealing with intense negative emotions that make you feel overwhelmed and depressed, your PTSD may hinder you from working.

    Since PTSD can also cause severe panic attacks, the disability can make it difficult for many Veterans to stay calm and regulate their emotions in a standard work environment.

When symptoms such as these are sufficiently severe, a Veteran may not be able to work as a result. One indication to determine whether PTSD is severe enough to qualify for TDIU is if a Veteran has had several jobs in a short period of time because he or she walked off the job site, was fired by an employer, or could not handle social interactions.

Many Veterans who have PTSD may continue to look for work because they are afraid they will end up financially unstable if they do not. However, Veterans with severe PTSD often need to undergo extensive treatment and recovery before they can work again. If you are a Veteran with PTSD, it is not your fault, nor is it something you can control – therefore, you should not have to continuously search for work that will be anxiety-provoking and overwhelming for you.

Instead of searching for jobs that you may not be able to maintain, you can apply to receive disability benefits from the VA to get the compensation and support that you need and deserve. VA benefits are tax-free, and they can help you maintain financial security and support your loved ones when your disability has left you unable to work. If you qualify for TDIU, your monthly benefits will be even higher.

Complications with Qualifying for TDIU Benefits

Some Veterans may be denied TDIU benefits even if they are unable to work.

For example, they may not make enough of a distinction between being out of work or being unable to work. The VA does not consider being unable to work in a preferred occupation as the same thing as being unable to secure “substantially gainful employment.” For instance, if you worked as a construction worker before getting a service-connected disability, the VA may still consider you capable of working a desk job.

The VA should logically consider a Veteran’s skill set when evaluating a claim for TDIU, but they oftentimes focus on physical abilities to the exclusion of everything else. For example, it’s not always practical for a lifetime construction worker to suddenly switch industries completely and become a programmer.

You can combat VA assumptions and negative TDIU benefits decisions by getting statements from doctors, providing your own statement about your difficulty finding employment, and more.

Fortunately, there isn’t any wrong way to substantiate your claim for TDIU. The key thing to remember is that your evidence must show unemployability in some way.

Veterans With PTSD Deserve Disability Compensation 

The most common reason Veterans who have PTSD cannot handle employment is because they do not feel safe outside their homes. Most jobs, especially unskilled labor positions, require workers to leave their homes for at least eight hours a day, five days a week. For Veterans who feel threatened outside of the comfort of their homes, a normal work schedule may be impossible to maintain. Some employers may be sympathetic to a Veteran’s situation, but others will not tolerate someone who cannot reliably show up to work every day.

Because a typical work environment is not set up to accommodate Veterans with PTSD, finding employment when suffering from this disability can be extremely difficult. To make sure that you have the resources that you need to take care of yourself and your family, see if you can qualify for disability benefits from the VA. 

To qualify for disability benefits from the VA, you will first need to establish and verify that your PTSD is service-connected. This means that you developed the disorder due to a traumatic experience that you had when you were serving in the military. With the help of your doctor, your military medical records, and, if necessary, an attorney, you can establish a service connection.

If your application for disability benefits or TDIU related to PTSD is denied, don’t give up on getting the compensation you deserve. A skilled attorney can help you make an appeal to the VA to potentially change their final decision regarding your claim. 

An attorney can help you make a case to the VA that they have judged your claim inaccurately. In many cases, the VA will deny a Veteran’s claim based on perceived lack of medical evidence or because they could not verify a service connection. Berry Law’s attorneys have years of experience navigating the VA appeals process, and we can help you get past the obstacles that stand between you and the benefits that you deserve.

Veterans Serving Veterans 

If you have PTSD and have difficulty keeping a job, you may qualify for TDIU. If the VA did not recognize the severity of your symptoms when you initially filed for benefits, Berry Law might be able to help. Our team of Veterans disability attorneys fight for Veterans who don’t receive the benefits they need and deserve. 

Our firm was founded by John Stevens Berry Sr., a three-tour Vietnam Veteran who, upon his return to the United States, focused on helping soldiers coming home from war. Today, many of our attorneys and staff are Veterans themselves.

If you believe your PTSD qualifies you for TDIU, contact us today. Your consultation is free.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic 

NIMH » Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | NIMH 

National Center for PTSD | 

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

Related Posts

How to Get 100% VA Disability for Depression
How to Get 100% VA Disability for Depression
PTSD in Vietnam Veterans
PTSD in Vietnam Veterans
​Can the VA Take Away 100 Percent Permanent and Total Disability?
​Can the VA Take Away 100 Percent Permanent and Total Disability?

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Service Connection

Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.

Skip to content