The Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation program includes help for qualified veterans with service-connected disabilities who cannot hold gainful employment.
That help comes in the form of a cash benefit; the Individual Unemployability (IU) program pays “certain Veterans disability compensation at the 100% rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the total level” according to VA.gov.
This program, like many other VA benefits in this area, has specific requirements in order to qualify. According to the VA official site, to be eligible for this type of compensation the criteria includes the following:
- The applicant must be a Veteran with at least one service connected disability rated 60% or higher or multiple disabilities, one rated at 40% and a total rating for all conditions at 70% or higher.
- The applicant must be “unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities.”
- According to the VA, so-called “marginal employment, such as odd jobs” would not be included as gainful employment for IU purposes.
This criteria does mean that some applicants would be left out of the program, but the VA official site advises veterans that some who don’t fit the above criteria may still have an opportunity to be considered:
Under exceptional circumstances this benefit may be granted with a lower disability rating than noted above provided the evidence shows the service-connected disability or disabilities present such an exceptional or unusual disability picture, due to such factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization, that applying the normal disability requirements is impractical.
Like most VA compensation for medical issues, eligible veterans must apply to be considered under IU. This can be done online via the eBenefits portal, at a VA regional office, or through what the VA describes as an “accredited agent” (search for one near you)
No matter which option is best for you, all applicants will be required to fill out VA Form 21-8940, the Veteran’s Application For Increased Compensation Based On Unemployability.
This form requires the names and addresses of hospitals and doctors that have been part of the applicant’s care, plus information on the most recent five years of the applicant’s work history. This information can take time to gather, so it’s best to be familiar with the form and the required data before making an appointment with the VA or an accredited agent.