VA Claims Process

In past columns I have written about the symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Today I would like to discuss the concept of individual unemployability and the VA claims process. IU (individual unemployability) is another way a veteran can achieve a total disability rating, besides qualifying for a 100 percent rating under the rating schedule. IU covers a situation in which a service-connected disability renders the veteran unemployable based upon his/her education, training and past work experience. “The established policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs is that all veterans who are unable to secure and follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of service connected disabilities shall be rated totally disabled.” 38 C.F.R.

If a veteran is rated at 60% or more for only one service-connected disability, or there are two or more service connected disabilities with one disability evaluated at 40% disabling with additional disability to bring the combined rating to 70% or more, then the VA evaluates whether the veteran’s disability prevents him/her from working. The veteran must file for this benefit. It is not something the VA does automatically.

There is another regulation entitled “Extra-Scheduler” consideration. It is a VA policy that all veterans who are unemployable due to service-connected disabilities must be rated totally disabled. If a veteran does not meet the percentages as outlined above, but yet cannot work because of service connected disabilities, then they should be considered under special provisions regarding IU known as extra-scheduler compensation. You must ask for this as these cases require special handling.

The VA may not consider age as a factor, previous unemployability or non-service connected conditions. If the veteran’s service connected disabilities preclude him/her from performing substantial gainful employment, then he/she should be entitled to this benefit. It is suggested that the veteran obtain at least two medical opinions clearly stating that his/her service connected disabilities render him/her unemployable.

The concept of IU is similar to Social Security Disability with a few exceptions. Under Social Security Disability, an individual may receive benefits based on age, education, training and past employment. The Social Security Law looks at all impairments that impact an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity no matter what the cause. Wherein under VA regulations, the cause of unemployability must be due to service-connected disabilities regardless of age.

Obviously the above explanation is a broad general examination of the concept of individual unemployability.  There are more in-depth explanations found in the VA regulations. Certainly service officers and the VA can clarify particular circumstances and individual situations that cannot be totally covered in an article. 

If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. If there are any future topics, I am always open to suggestions.