Veterans who have a 100% TDIU rating may wonder if their rating could become lower after securing employment. In short, the answer is, “Possibly”. It’s important to understand that veterans, their disability ratings, and their experiences are all unique.

Some veterans have been given a 100% disability rating score for TDIU (total disability individual unemployability). There are many factors that impact this rating, including whether or not the TDIU is temporary or permanent; if the primary disability rating is 60 or 70%; whether or not the veteran is seeking employment or marginal employment; and lastly if a protected work environment will be a factor.

Marginal Employment

This is an example of when veterans could face a reduced rating if they make more than the poverty limit. The 100% disability rating would change to the veteran’s underlying rating. A veteran who is employed marginally could still qualify for 100% disability for TDIU if they are working on a more infrequent basis.

Protected Work Setting

In this scenario, a veteran can still qualify for TDIU even if they bring in more income than the poverty limit. An environment for protected work is when a company has made major modifications for the veteran that doesn’t decrease their benefits or earnings, despite the difference in work performed. Two specific types of protected work settings include a work setting that is sheltered or a family company.

A protected work setting is when a veteran performs similar duties, is paid a comparable wage to other workers, yet at least one of the below factors are true.

  1. The veteran is not reprimanded for errors or behavioral complications that are caused by their disability. Disabled veterans may find that interpersonal relations can be more difficult or that their behavior may become more impulsive. For this reason, mistakes can be made more easily or certain duties might even be forgotten. When the employer or fellow employees make adjustments for these types of deficiencies, the work environment is likely one that is “protected”, particularly when a standard company wouldn’t normally make similar exceptions.
  2. The veteran does not miss out on pay if they are less dependable than other employees. Most often seen in family businesses, this occurs when an employer doesn’t withhold pay for attendance issues caused by a veteran’s disability.
  3. The veteran is relieved of the necessary aspects of their position because of their disability. Some parts of a position may not be considered mandatory for a veteran worker as they are for other employees, such as certain training or meetings.
  4. The veteran is not as productive as other employees are. A veteran might have difficulty focusing and therefore may not be as quick as other workers when performing typical job duties. Veteran employees who receive the same benefits and wage as those who do not have a disability, then their job setting could be one that is protected.