If you are a Veteran who is considering applying for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits, you should strongly consider hiring a vocational expert to write a report on your behalf.
You wouldnt be in the situation of thinking about applying for TDIU if you didnt have the evidence to support this, a Vocational Expert can look at your evidence and how it affects your ability to work and well as maintain employment.
The VA looks at your disabilities individually and a vocational expert can look at them and all their affects.
THIS IS WHY A vocational expert report can be a powerful tool helping you to prove that you are unable to work due to your service-connected disabilities.
What is a vocational expert report?
A vocational expert report is a document that is written by a qualified vocational expert. The report assesses your skills, abilities, and limitations, and it determines what your employability.
Why is a vocational expert report important for TDIU?
The VA defines TDIU as the inability to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment by reason of service-connected disabilities. In order to be approved for TDIU benefits, you must show that you are unable to work due to your service-connected disabilities.
A vocational expert report can help you to prove that you are unable to work due to your service-connected disabilities.
How can a vocational expert report help me to win my TDIU case?
A vocational expert report can help you to win your TDIU case in a number of ways. First, the report will provide the VA with a comprehensive assessment of your skills, abilities, and limitations, IN VOCATIONAL TERMS.
This information will help the VA to understand how your service-connected disabilities affect your ability to work, their experts are only looking at Functional loss not work loss.
Second, the report will determine what jobs you are able to do and what your wage earning potential is in the current job market. This information will help the VA to determine whether you are unable to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment due to your service-connected disabilities.
Third, a vocational expert report is an objective document that is written by a qualified expert. This means that the report is likely to be given more weight by the VA than other evidence, such as lay statements from friends and family members.
How do I hire a vocational expert?
There are a number of ways to hire a vocational expert. When choosing a vocational expert, it is important to select someone who is qualified and experienced in writing TDIU reports.
Is it worth hiring a vocational expert for my TDIU case?
Absolutely. A vocational expert report can be a powerful tool in helping you to win your TDIU case. If you are serious about getting approved for TDIU benefits,
Here are some additional benefits of hiring a vocational expert for your TDIU case:
A vocational expert can help you to identify and document your work-related limitations.
A vocational expert can help you to prepare for your VA C&P exam.
A vocational expert can represent you at your VA C&P exam.
A vocational expert can help you to appeal your VA decision if you are denied TDIU benefits.
If you are a Veteran who is considering applying for TDIU benefits, please contact a qualified vocational expert to learn more about how they can help you to win your case.
why a person may choose to be unemployed or underemployed to get back at life or another person. These terms include:
Passive-aggressive behavior: This is a type of behavior in which a person expresses their anger or frustration indirectly, rather than directly. This can include things like refusing to work, being late for work, or doing a poor job.
Sabotage: This is the deliberate destruction or interference with something, especially for malicious purposes. In the context of employment, sabotage could involve things like damaging equipment, spreading rumors, or refusing to cooperate with co-workers.
Retaliation: This is an act of revenge for a wrong that has been done. In the context of employment, retaliation could involve things like filing a false complaint against a co-worker, or refusing to give a good reference to a former employer.
It is important to note that not everyone who is unemployed or underemployed is doing so to get back at life or another person. There are many other possible reasons, such as a lack of skills or education, a disability, or discrimination. However, passive-aggressive behavior, sabotage, and retaliation are all possible motivations for unemployment or underemployment.
If you are concerned that someone you know may be choosing to be unemployed or underemployed to get back at life or another person, there are a few things you can do. First, talk to the person about your concerns. Be understanding and supportive, and try to understand their perspective. You can also offer to help them find resources to help them get back to work, such as job training programs or vocational rehabilitation services.
If you are still concerned, you can talk to the person’s doctor or other healthcare provider. They may be able to offer more insights into the person’s situation. You can also contact a mental health professional for help.
It is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you are concerned about someone you know, the best thing you can do is to talk to them and offer your support.
2) We Use Both a Structured and Unstructured Diagnostic Vocational Interview
This will be a review of the individual’s history and will also outline the age, education, current work status, past work experience, skills, current medical & psychological impairment(s), treatments, and physical & psychological limitations.
(This can be in-person or through SKYPE, or telephone)
3) Assessment of Current Information and determining if more documentation is needed.
– If needed we will create Medical and/or Psychological Source forms and/or Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC), Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). This will be the disabled individual or their Representative responsibility to get completed and returned to us.
4) Vocational & Forensic Mental Health Evaluation (Psychometric Assessments) (most cases will require one or more tests)
Based on the case we will determine what assessments need to be completed. We will assess not only aptitudes but also may measure Attention, Concentration (ADHD), Memory, Cognitive Abilities, IQ, Mental Health / Psychiatric Measures (Depression, Bi-Polar, Acute Anxiety, GAD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc.)
5) Perform a Vocational Diagnostic Assessment of Residual Employability.
this includes a Transferable Skills Analysis
6) Labor Market Research (if needed)
Private, local, state, and federal government labor market studies to determine if any significant number of jobs exist that the claimant can perform in the local and national labor market.
The results of the vocational evaluation enable the Vocational Expert to render an opinion as to the employability of the permanently injured veteran’s and their ability to perform substantial gainful work activity based on quantifiable, accurate, and current information using Veteran’s Disability standards. We provide services nationally as well as in Florida and the South East.
Pensacola Tampa Jacksonville Miami Tampa St. Pete Ft. Meyers Orlando
Florida Family Laws that discuss imputed income for child support cases:
Section 61.30, Florida Statutes: This section states that the court may impute income to a parent if the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. The court will consider the parent’s education, training, skills, and work experience in making this determination.
You need a vocational expert to assess a parent to see if they are making a reasonable attempt to being employed. A Vocational Evaluation is used to determine and individuals earning capacity
Section 61.30(4)(b), Florida Statutes: This section states that the court may impute income to a parent based on the minimum wage if the parent is unable to provide evidence of their income.
Section 61.30(5), Florida Statutes: This section states that the court may impute income to a parent based on the income of a similar parent in the same community.
The court will consider all of the relevant factors in determining whether to impute income to a parent. These factors may include:
The parent’s education, training, skills, and work experience
The parent’s past earnings
The parent’s ability to find a job
The parent’s reasons for being unemployed or underemployed
The needs of the child
If the court imputes income to a parent, the parent will be ordered to pay child support based on the imputed income.
It is important to note that imputed income is a complex issue, and the laws in Florida may change. If you are involved in a child support case, it is important to speak to an attorney to get legal advice specific to your situation.
Imputed income is done by the courts, for Example in Florida:
Florida family court that address earning capacity.
These laws are designed to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial support of their children, regardless of their current employment status.
The specific laws that address earning capacity in Florida family court are:
Section 61.30, Florida Statutes: This section sets forth the child support guidelines, which are used to calculate the amount of child support that should be paid. The guidelines take into account the income of both parents, as well as the needs of the children.
Section 61.13, Florida Statutes: This section gives the court the authority to impute income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. This means that the court can assume that the parent could be working and earning a certain amount of money, and the imputed income will then be used to calculate child support.
But how does a court or a parent sow that one parent is unemployed by choice or under employed? its done by getting a vocational Evaluation to assess employability and earning capacity of an individual. This is done by using a Vocational Expert – If you have concerns or questions about the process of a vocational evaluation for Florida Family Court you can contact us.
What if the parent is on Disability such as VA disability does that automatically mean they dont have to be employed or can they be under employed. The answer to that question depends on the individuals disability. Just because a person is on VA disability does NOT mean they are unemployable.
Case law: There are also a number of cases that have addressed the issue of earning capacity in Florida family court. These cases have established the following principles:
The court must consider all of the relevant factors when determining whether to impute income to a parent. These factors include the parent’s education, training, work experience, and the availability of jobs in the parent’s field.
The court cannot impute income to a parent who is unable to work due to circumstances beyond their control, such as a disability. ( but are they hiding behind a disability that doesnt really make them unemployable? Just because a person is receiving VA Disability doesnt mean they are unable to work)
The court cannot impute income to a parent who is making a good faith effort to find employment.
In general, the law in Florida encourages parents to be employed and to contribute to the financial support of their children. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the court may not impute income to a parent who is disabled or who is unable to work due to other circumstances.
If you are going through a divorce in Florida and you have questions about child support, you should speak to an attorney. An attorney can help you understand the law and can represent you in court if necessary.
If you have questions about assessing an individuals earning capacity you need to speak to a vocational expert
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about earning capacity in Florida family court:
The court will consider the parent’s earning capacity at the time of the divorce, not at the time of the hearing.
The court will not impute income to a parent who is retired or who has reached the normal retirement age.
The court may impute income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, but only if the court finds that the parent is capable of working and earning a certain amount of money.
the only way a court can determine if a parent is capable of working and earning a certain amount of money is through a vocational evaluation of earning capacity
The laws on earning capacity in Florida family court can be complex. If you have questions about how these laws apply to your situation, you should speak to an attorney.
Florida Vocational Expert, Florida Earning Capacity, Florida Imputed Income
Tampa Orlando Tallahassee pensacola Jacksonville Miami st. pete clearwater daytona beach Destin
Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability
(TDIU or IU)
TDIU (IU) is a part of VA’s disability compensation program that allows VA to pay certain Veterans compensation at the 100% rate with all the benefits, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the 100% level.
A Veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of his/her service connected disabilities. (marginal employment -about $14,079/year (2022), such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes). This is the Veteran’s earned income from employment. Not household income. This is the same whether the veteran has zero dependents or multiple dependents.
Additionally, a Veteran must have:
One service-connected disability ratable at 60 percent or more, OR
Two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
Extra schedular TDIU is possible with less than the above percentages in certain circumstances. In order to support a claim for an extra-schedular evaluation based on exceptional circumstances, the evidence must show that your 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 application of the regular schedular standards is impractical. If you do not meet either of the two criteria above, make sure you include in the REMARKS section or on a separate VBA Form 21-4138 that you are filing for EXTRA SCHEDULAR CONSIDERATION BASED ON 38 CFR § 4.16(b).
NOTE: If already rated at 100%, the VBA will generally not award IU and will deny based on the claim being ‘moot’ as there are no additional benefits.
NOTE: The VBA CANNOT use age as a reason for denial. You can be 21 or 98 or any age.
To start a TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability) claim, you have to start the claim by either filing a VA Form 21-526EZ or starting a new claim on https://www.va.gov. If you have a claim in process, you do not need to start a new claim as the IU claim will become part of that claim. IU is a claim for increase and is not a stand alone claim.
If you can, get your doctor to state in writing that you are unemployable due to a SC condition.
Two things to help your IU or SSDI claim:
An unemployability determination from Voc Rehab (VR&E) or state or civilian vocational evaluation services.
“It does not appear feasible for you to obtain suitable employment through your Vocational Rehabilitation services at this point in time because of the severity of your service connected disabilities that make you unemployable and unable to maintain gainful employment.”
A statement like this will help if you can get a doctor to write it out for you.
“After examining Mr/Ms Veteran, his/her chart and medical records it is my opinion that Mr/Mrs Veteran is totally and permanently disabled due to the above discussed ______ condition. The veteran cannot hold gainful employment (manual or sedentary) as a result of the injury he/she sustained while in the military. It is also my opinion that it is more likely than not the that the physical traumas suffered during the veteran’s military service as noted in his/her record (description of events and dates) caused, contributed to and aggravated the totally disabling ______ condition(s). “
A VA Form 21-8940 must be signed by the Veteran and not a third-party source such as a power of attorney.
Add a VBA Form 21-4138 as a personal statement and another each as a spouse’s, family and co-worker statement on how the condition(s) affected your work.
Tips to Filling out the VBA Form 21-8940 (5/11/2022)
The VA’s application for Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU or just IU) seems to be one of the hardest VA forms to fill out. The first page is the worst part. It seems like the VA is asking you for more information than you can squeeze into the tiny fields. How are you supposed to fit all your disabilities or all your medical treatment information into those small boxes? Luckily, there is an easier way to approach this. If you need more room, add aVBA Form 21-4138 and reference that in the comments.
SECTION I – VETERAN IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION
Box 3: VA FILE NUMBER
Answer: The VA file number is written at the top of all letters, statements and explanation of benefits, otherwise it is the Veteran’s SSN.
SECTION II – DISABILITY AND MEDICAL TREATMENT
Box 8: WHAT SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY PREVENTS YOU FROM SECURING OR FOLLOWING ANY SUBSTANTIALLY GAINFUL OCCUPATION?
Answer: This is tricky. The VA is specifically asking what service-connected disability prevents you from working. If you are service connected for a disability that prevents you from working, list the disability here. If, however, you are service connected for Tinnitus (for example) but stopped working due to your bad back (which has not been service connected), then it makes no sense to put Tinnitus in this box. In this case, it is recommended that you put your back condition in this box (provided that you are pursuing a claim for this). That way, if/when your back condition is granted service connection, your claim for IU will already be on file. Substantially Gainful Employment is currently (2022) $14,079/year gross income as reported on your IRS tax forms and may go up slightly every year. NOTE: This is the veteran’s income, not household income and is from employment, not passive income. Other considerations: If you have multiple conditions that prevent you from working, limit the answer to the top 2 (such as back and PTSD). Ideally, there should be one condition.
Box 9: HAVE YOU BEEN UNDER A DOCTOR’S CARE AND/OR HOSPITALIZED WITHIN THE PAST 12 MONTHS?
Answer: If you have received care from doctors and from a hospital, then answer “Yes”. If you are being treated by only one, then list which one. The next boxes will provide space to give facility/doctor information
Box 10. DATE(S) OF TREATMENT BY DOCTOR(S)
Answer: The best way to answer this question is to think in terms of frequency – not exact dates. How often do you receive treatment? Weekly? Monthly? Every two weeks? Twice a year?
Box 11: NAME AND ADDRESS OF DOCTOR(S)
Answer: If you are being treated by a private doctor, list the doctor’s name and address in this box. If you are being treated by more than 1 private doctor, you can include a separate attachment with the names and addresses. If you are being treated by VA doctors, then list the doctor’s name and the VA facility you go to. Remember: this information only applies the condition that you listed in Box 8
Box 12: NAME AND ADDRESS OF HOSPITAL
Answer: If you have been or are being treated by a private hospital, list the facility name and address in this box. If you are being treated at a VA facility, simply list the facility name, city and state Remember: this information only applies the condition that you listed in Box 8
Box 13: DATE(S) OF HOSPITALIZATION
Answer: Refer to Box 10
SECTION III – EMPLOYMENT STATEMENT
This next section refers to Boxes 14-22. When answering these questions, be mindful that the information you provide must be in the context of the disabling condition that you listed in Box 8.
Box 14: DATE YOUR DISABILITY AFFECTED FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT
Answer: Consider the question like this: When did you condition start affecting your full-time employment? Or, when did your condition start affecting your work performance? If you are having trouble with a date, think about this: Was there a time when you started getting written up, missing work for doctor’s visits, calling out sick, getting your shift covered due to your service connected conditions? Generally, a month and year is sufficient for this question. This question is very important for your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) claim, also. If you had sufficient work credits at this date, even if the SSA says you do not have the required work credits you may still be eligible. You CAN collect both VA Disability Compensation and SSDI.
Box 15: DATE YOU LAST WORKED FULL-TIME
Answer: This can be when you transitioned from full to part time, or from full time to not working at all.
Box 16: DATE YOU BECAME TOO DISABLED TO WORK
Answer: This is the date that you stopped working due to the condition listed in Box 8. If you cannot remember the exact date, a month and year will suffice.
Box 17A: WHAT IS THE MOST YOU EVER EARNED IN ONE YEAR
Answer: This is a comprehensive question. The VA wants to know how much you have ever earned in one year over your lifetime. If you cannot remember the exact amount, a ball-park figure will suffice. You can also look it up on the MY SS website here: http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
Box 17B: WHAT YEAR?
Answer: List the year during which you earned the amount that you listed in Box 17A.
Box 17C: OCCUPATION DURING THAT YEAR
Answer: List your occupation or job title for which you earned the amount listed in Box 17A.
Box 18. LIST ALL YOUR EMPLOYMENT INCLUDING SELF-EMPLOYMENT FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS YOU WORKED (Include any military duty including inactive duty for training)
Answer: While this seems fairly self-explanatory, many people miss the key phrase in the question: “for the last 5 years you worked”. The VA is looking for employment history for the last 5 years that you were employed, not in the past 5 years from today. For example, if you stopped working in 2017, the VA wants your employment history from 2012 – 2017. The VA wants names and addresses of the places/companies that you worked for. If this information is missing, the VA will send you a notice requesting the names and addresses and this will slow your claim down. If the company you worked for is no longer in business, fill in the information as best you can, and indicate in Box 17A that the company is out of business. If you were self-employed, indicate this in Box 17A, along with the name of your business (if applicable).
Box 18B. TYPE OF WORK
Answer: Give your job title or type of work. This could be supervisor, truck driver, salesman, refrigeration repair, etc.
Box 18C: HOURS PER WEEK
Answer: If the hours varied, give an average. You can also use a range (35-40).
Box 18D: DATES OF EMPLOYMENT
Answer: Use the month and year that you started and left the employer.
Box 18E: TIME LOST FROM ILLNESS
Answer: This question references the disabling condition(s) that you listed in Box 8. As with the first part of the form, think in terms of frequency. Did you call out monthly or weekly? Did you use all your vacation time? Were you out 2 weeks a year? Ten hours a week?
Box 18F: HIGHEST GROSS EARNINGS PER MONTH
Answer: The VA wants to know the most you made a month at that particular company. If you cannot remember the exact amount, but do remember what you were being paid hourly, multiply that number by the hours you worked in a week, and figure out your monthly pay that way.
Box G: IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING IN THE RESERVE OR NATIONAL GUARD, DOES YOUR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY PREVENT YOU FROM PERFORMING YOUR MILITARY DUTIES?
Answer: Guard or Reserve duties typically require you to be deployable so if you answer “NO” you will have to have a separate sheet that explains how your duties are not similar to a comparable civilian occupation that is gainful employment.
Box 18H: INDICATE YOUR TOTAL EARNED INCOME FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS
Answer: The key word here is “earned” income. This is money earned from physically working and receiving payment. This does NOT include: pensions, retirement, IRA’s, 401k’s, SSDI or SSI. Generally, this amount should be $0. However, if you stopped working within the past 12 months or are working part time, you will need to indicate how much you earned/are earning.
Box 18I: IF PRESENTLY EMPLOYED, INDICATE YOUR CURRENT MONTHLY EARNED INCOME
Answer: If you are not physically working, this amount should be $0. However, if you are working, give the amount that you earn per month.
Box 19: DID YOU LEAVE YOUR LAST JOB/SELF-EMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF YOUR DISABILITY?
Answer: This question is reflective of the disabling condition(s) that you listed in Box 8. Check “Yes” if you were fired, laid off, or resigned from your last job because of the disabling condition(s). Check “No” if you left your last job due to outside circumstances, such as being laid off due to the economy. Please understand that TDIU is not unemployment insurance or retirement.
Box 20: DO YOU RECEIVE/EXPECT TO RECEIVE DISABILITY RETIREMENT BENEFITS?
Answer: In addition to Disability Retirement benefits, this also includes any Social Security benefits, such as SSDI and SSI. Since these are not considered earned income, they will not affect the outcome of the application.
Box 21: DO YOU RECEIVE/EXPECT TO RECEIVE WORKERS COMPENSATION BENEFITS?
Answer: Self-explanatory. Worker’s Compensation does not mean you cannot also qualify for IU.
Box 22: HAVE YOU TRIED TO OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT SINCE YOU BECAME TOO DISABLED TO WORK?
Answer: This only applies if you have applied anywhere since you stopped working. *If you cannot remember, answer “No” *If you have applied for work, list the name and address of the business/employer, the type of work and the date applied.
SECTION IV – SCHOOLING AND OTHER TRAINING
Box 23: EDUCATION
Answer: Self-explanatory. Education in and of itself does not bar you from eligibility for IU.
Box 24A: DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING BEFORE YOU WERE TOO DISABLED TO WORK?
Answer: This applies to any education or training before you stopped working. This could include trade schools or specialized training, such as truck driving school, welding school, mechanics, etc. If not, answer “No”, and leave Boxes 24B & 24C blank. Note: you may have used your GI Bill for this.
Box 25A: HAVE YOU HAD ANY EDUCATION AND TRAINING SINCE YOU BECAME TOO DISABLED TO WORK?
Answer: This applies to any education or training that you had in an attempt to get a job after you became too disabled to work. This could include vocational rehab. If not, answer “No”, and leave Boxes 25B & 25C blank.
Box 26: REMARKS
Answer: (If any) This section is usually left blank. However, you can use this to make additional notes on any of the previous sections.
SECTION IV – AUTHORIZATION, CERTIFICATION, AND SIGNATURE
Make sure you sign and date the form IN INK. If the claimant can only make an “X” mark, you will need two witnesses.
Once the VA receives this application, they will send you a notice indicating that they have received your application and will verify your employment history. They do this by sending your past employer(s) (which you listed in Box 18A) a form to fill out – theVA Form 21-4192. This form will ask the employer to verify the dates of employment and indicate why you stopped working for that employer.
If the VA is unsuccessful with obtaining completed copies of this form from your past employer(s), they will send you a second notice, requesting that you attempt to contact the past employer(s) to have them fill out the necessary form.
In order to speed up your IU claim, you can get these filled out yourself and send in with your claim.
NOTE: TheVA Form 21-4192 is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY and if the employer is no longer in business you need to make that clear in a separate sheet. If the employer refuses to fill out theVA Form 21-4192, you need to indicate in a separate sheet your efforts to get it filled out and why the employer did not. In either of these two cases, you can fill out the form as much as possible and submit with the explanation. If you need to do this, do not sign as the employer.
NOTE: The VA cannot deny simply because a former employer refuses to fill out a form. It may delay your claim.
NOTE: Federal employment does not need aVBA Form 21-4192 as the VBA is required to get that information directly from them. A lay statement from your employer describing the employment issues you may have had is valid evidence.
amount of time lost in the previous 12 months due to service connected disabilities.
When you file for TDIU, the VBA is required to review your current ratings listed in Box 8 to see if you can be increased to 100% scheduler versus IU. They may also review any other current ratings in that same effort. This is part of the ‘DUTY TO ASSIST’. To speed up your claim you can get new DBQs (Disability Benefits Questionnaires) filled out by your own doctors and submit with your IU claim.
With Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) Veterans now have more control over the disability claims process. Veterans have the option of visiting a private health care provider instead of a VA facility to complete their disability evaluation form. Veterans can have their providers fill out any of the more than 70 DBQs that are appropriate for their conditions and submit them to the VBA. It’s that easy! Here is the list on online DBQs you can take to your doctor.
By adding a separate PERSONAL STATEMENT that indicates how your service connected conditions affect you on a daily basis you are adding your input directly to the RVSR (VA Rater) who decides your claim. A spouse’s statement will also help give a perspective the Veteran’s statement may not have.
AVA Form 21-8940 SHOULD be signed by the Veteran and not a third-party source such as a power of attorney.
ALWAYS USE THE MOST CURRENT FORMS ON THE WEBSITES HERE! If you get a form from your VSO, make sure the date matches the web forms above. If your forms are out of date, it will delay your claim.
SECTION V – WHERE TO SEND CORESPONDENCE
File through your accredited VSO (Recommended), throughhttps://va.gov by starting a new claim or by REGISTERED mail or fax accompanied by a VA Form 21-526EZ here.
The Role of a Vocational Expert in a Disability VA – TDIU Claim
What are Vocational Assessments for a Veterans TDIU Claims?
Many people are unsure as to why they need a Vocational Evaluation/Assessment for their claim. A vocational assessment can provide valuable information for decision-makers regarding Total Disability Individual Unemployability cases, also known as TDIU/IU cases and help answer whether a veteran’s service-connected disabilities prevent him or her from securing substantially gainful employment (“SGE”).
Many people assume if they cannot do their Own Occupation that that means they are disabled but Any Occupation especially UnSkilled Sedentary Occupations have to be ruled out.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) defines SGE as “employment that is ordinarily followed by the non-disabled to earn their livelihood with earnings common to the particular occupation in the community where the veteran resides.”
The Veterans Administration specifies that SGE cannot include sheltered or protected employment. Further, if a veteran’s annual wages are below the poverty level, this employment cannot be considered substantially gainful. If a veteran is unable to secure SGE as a result of a service-related disability, then he or she is entitled to receive 100% compensation for TDIU.
Why TDIU Vocational Evaluations are Essential?
Judges as well as other decision-makers in these types of cases often rely on the opinion of physicians and other medical providers to determine whether a veteran can still obtain SGE. However, these reports are done in medical terms and not vocational terms.
Therefore individuals, do not have specialized vocational experience or expertise and are not equipped to determine the feasibility of a veteran’s ability to work.
A vocational expert knows vocational terms, transferability of skills, and what the 72 factors of occupations that need to be looked at. A vocational evaluation can help bridge the gap between any documented medical and psychological limitations and residual functional limitations within the context of jobs in the present labor market.
A vocational evaluation is a multi-step process and is prepared by a vocational expert. The vocational rehabilitation assessment must have a methodology that fulfills the VA requirements to address the critical questions in a TDIU matter. These questions include:
Is the veteran disabled?
What is the estimated date of TDIU?
Was past work sheltered or protected employment?
The analysis also includes a vocational opinion based on both objective and subjective evidence regarding the estimated date the veteran was unable to work at SGE.
Vocational assessments are structured by topic, starting with the reason for the referral. All records to be considered in the matter are summarized in a report. This records summary is critical because it outlines the objective and subjective evidence in the case, including a review of the medical, psychological, and other records contained in the file. Additionally, a thorough interview is conducted with the veteran regarding symptomology, limitations, educational history, and work history.
This information is synthesized, and the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) of the veteran is identified. RFC is the functional ability a person has after the effects of the disabling condition. RFC can relate to physical and/or mental abilities that result in restrictions on certain behaviors and/or exposure to specific environments. The RFC identified in the records are matched with the veteran’s past work as defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the functional demands of that job. If the functional limitations preclude past work, the VE will perform a transferable skills analysis. No more than the past fifteen years of work are analyzed as it is no longer realistic to expect skills to continue after fifteen years. For example, if a veteran had worked for the previous fifteen years in unskilled, but physically demanding jobs, no skills would transfer to other work. If the veteran has no past skilled work, or the RFC precludes skills from past work, the VE must consider other, unskilled jobs that both exist in the economy and that would fit within the RFC. In addition, the vocational expert will also provide an analysis regarding the labor market and the actual availability of jobs in the current economy. As part of the conclusion, specific records must be cited to support the RFC and the date the RFC was established. If the RFC precludes any unskilled work in the economy, the VE can conclude that the veteran could not work. This analysis also allows the VE to determine when the veteran became unable to work.
How TDIU Cases are Evaluated?
Decision-makers are often faced with challenges when evaluating TDIU case records without a vocational assessment. Information contained in a veteran’s records can be confusing and contradictory. Identifying the RFCs can be difficult if the records are unclear. The veteran may have unsuccessful work attempts or a history of accommodated work in the past. It is often difficult for TDIU decision-makers to thoroughly unpack and effectively analyze this information. Additionally, decision-makers may struggle to identify the date the veteran became unable to work. A VE has the skills to identify RFCs and past relevant work and to determine how the veteran’s service-connected disabilities may limit their ability to work and earn a substantially gainful income. If the veteran cannot earn a substantially gainful income as a result of his or her service-connected disabilities, the veteran may qualify for a 100% TDIU rating from the VA. Thus, a vocational evaluation from a vocational expert is a invaluable in supporting a veteran’s TDIU claim.
Determining Disability, Unemployability, and Marginal Employment. M21-1MR, Part V, Subpart ii, Chapter 1, Section B (2018).
Havraneck, J. (2007). Advanced issues in forensic rehabilitation (199). Athens, GA: Elliott & Fitzpatrick.
Total Disability Ratings for Compensation Based on Unemployability of the Individual. 38 CFR § 4.16(a) (2011).
Weed, R. O., & Field, T. F. (2001). Transferable skills analysis. Rehabilitation Consultants Handbook (pp. 101-103). Athens, GA: Elliott and Fitzpatrick, Inc.
We serve individuals nationwide, including clients near all VA regional offices and their areas of jurisdiction: places such as Montgomery, Alabama; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Phoenix, Arizona; Little Rock, Arkansas; South Carolina; North Carolina; San diego, California; San Fransisco, California; Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Hartford, Connecticut; Wilmington, Delaware, Washington, D.C.; St. Petersburg, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Boise, Idaho; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Togus, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; St. Paul, Minnesota; Jackson, Mississippi; St. Louis, Missouri; Ft. Harrison, Montana; Lincoln, Nebraska; Reno, Nevada; Manchester, New Hampshire; Newark, New Jersey; Albuquerque, New Mexico; New York City; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Fargo, North Dakota; Cleveland, Ohio; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Columbia, South Carolina; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Tampa, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Houston and Waco, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; White River Junction, Vermont; Roanoke, Virginia; Seattle, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
If you have dealt with applying for benefits with the VA long enough, it probably comes as no surprise to learn that the VA often disagrees about claims of total disability individual unemployability (TDIU).
Vocational expert evaluation and report can go a long way in proving that a veteran does in fact qualify for TDIU.
In claims without a vocational experts assessment/report, the VA relies on VA doctors to make the determination of unemployability; however, in most cases, only an experienced vocational expert has the knowledge to determine whether a veteran qualifies for TDIU. This is because the VA doctors think in medical terms and limitations and not vocational terms and work place issues, conflicts, and limitations. So the VA doctors arent able to fully delineate how one or more medical issues affects a persons ability to work nor their ability to obtain and maintain employment.
Talk to a Vocational Expert with experience handling TDIU claims for help today.
The Benefits of having a Vocational Experts assessment can make or break a VA disability claim
In a many TDIU claim, a veteran claims that they cannot return to their former employment, own occupation, because of a service-connected disability. The question then shifts to whether the veteran has the education, work experience, transferrable skill set, and adequate physical and mental capacity to secure and maintain another type of employment, any Occupation.
Many times you will hear that a claim was denied because the VA Judge reports the person can do UNskilled SEDENTARY WORK. The reality is, the only what to beat this if it occurs is to have a Vocational Expert assess your claim and limitations.
Vocational experts have the industrial knowledge and expertise to evaluate the opportunities in the current marketplace compared to the veteran’s current circumstances. A vocational expert often is the only person qualified to render an expert opinion on a veteran’s ability to obtain another position and can critically alter the final decision in a TDIU claim.
A vocational expert creates a vocational assessment report for the TDIU claim, which can overcome unqualified opinions rendered by VA doctors and C&P examiners who lack experience and expertise in the vocational field. This report will typically include a review of the veteran’s medical record, identification of the service-related conditions, a breakdown of the veteran’s prior work experience, an evaluation of transferable skills, and a vocational discussion about the potential for this veteran’s ability to return to work. This report helps to point out limitations connected to service-related disabilities and improve your chances of qualifying for a TDIU claim.
VA doctor evaluations typically only look at the individual disability and whether that disability prevents you from working. A vocational expert considers other aspects of how this disability might affect employment, such as the effects of pain and medication associated with disability and whether it affects the ability to concentrate, focus, complete instructions, and complete tasks in a timely manner. A vocational expert’s review also takes into consideration things like the veteran’s ability to communicate with managers and fellow employees, adaptability to stressful situations, and what accommodations would need to be necessary to employ this particular veteran. A VA doctor or C&P examiner takes none of this into consideration when making a determination about TDIU claims, which is why having a vocational expert report included in your application for benefits can be such a beneficial addition to your claims.
We at SouthEast Vocational Experts serve Veterans with disabilities & Veteran Advocates nationwide, including clients near all VA regional offices and their areas of jurisdiction: places such as Montgomery, Alabama; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Phoenix, Arizona; Little Rock, Arkansas; South Carolina; North Carolina; San diego, California; San Fransisco, California; Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Hartford, Connecticut; Wilmington, Delaware, Washington, D.C.; St. Petersburg, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Boise, Idaho; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Togus, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; St. Paul, Minnesota; Jackson, Mississippi; St. Louis, Missouri; Ft. Harrison, Montana; Lincoln, Nebraska; Reno, Nevada; Manchester, New Hampshire; Newark, New Jersey; Albuquerque, New Mexico; New York City; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Fargo, North Dakota; Cleveland, Ohio; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Columbia, South Carolina; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Tampa, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Houston and Waco, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; White River Junction, Vermont; Roanoke, Virginia; Seattle, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
We help outline your issues in vocational terms and limitations that a VA Administrator or Judge can understand.
There are many aspects to a Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) case, as well as aspects of it that can make the process difficult. According to a report by GAO (Bertoni, D. ,2015), the Veterans Administration (VA) can “better ensure unemployability decisions are well supported” for a variety of reasons.
VA reliability of Psychological C&P Exams
Additionally, Psychological C&P Exams have been found to be “unreliable and unfair” to veterans (Worthern, M.D., 2018). There have also been reports that there has been a need for expert opinions which were not necessarily offered in TDIU cases, such as with “combined-effects” (Ilacqua, M.J., 14). It is indicated in each of the articles that all of the above could potentially lead to incorrect decisions being made. The use of Vocational Expert (VE) may help to ensure the veteran’s service-connected conditions and the impact these conditions have on thier residual functional capacity are outlined.
Veteran/claimant cannot rely on C&P Exams in that they often only use medical terms and are not able to relay the information in how it affects and individuals employability in the workplace. Worthen, M.D. (2018), there are times when Psychological C&P exams have found to be unreliable and “unfair” in part due to veterans due to a high ratio of false positives and false negatives. A false positive would mean that a C&P Exam showed a veteran had a claimed mental disorder when they did not. A false negative would mean that a C&P Exam showed a veteran did not have a mental disorder when they did. This could result in a veteran being denied for TDIU based on a C&P Ex-am that gave an incorrect result.
A SouthEast Vocational Expert would be able to explore the medical files and understand how the symptoms of the disabling condition could impact the workforce and the ability to maintain employment. For example, even if the veteran’s C&P Exam stated that they were not found to have a disabling mental condition, it make be stated in the Exam that the claimant would have an inability to work in proximity to others or maintain pace. These things could be beyond customary tolerances in the workplace, and therefore make the veteran unemployable. A VE would be able to indicate this in a report due to their specialized knowledge of the world of work.
VA TDIU Claim
According to the GAO report (Bertoni, D., 2015), there is “incomplete guidance” as to how to consider a veteran’s unemployability and, due to this, variability and variation in TDIU claim cases can be found. Per the report, this could involve differing opinions between rating experts as to what would count as demonstrating employability (such as being able to take courses with a Traumatic Brain Injury), how much weight should be given to a veteran receiving social Security Disability, and difficulties in separating service-connected disabling conditions and those conditions that are not service-connected but may be due to age or other disabling conditions. A VE would be able to look at the disabling conditions that are provided in the medical reports and indicate what impact they would have on a veteran’s employability. A VE would also be able to understand and express what the impact of receiving vocational training could have on potential employability would be.
SouthEast Vocational Expert is Key
A Vocatoinal Expdert is an important addition to any TDIU claim due to their specialized knowledge and understanding of the workplace, including employer tolerances, what physical and mental requirements there are for certain jobs, and the impact of training or education on employability. The VE is a key part to ensuring that even when there may be discrepancies in the record or vocational aspects of a case have not necessarily been examined completely, the impact of a veteran’s service-connected conditions on the workforce are explored fully.
Worthen, Mark, Psych C&P Exams are Unfair to Veterans (January 15, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3102447 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3102447
Bertoni, D. (2015). Veterans’ disability benefits: Improvements needed to better ensure VA unemployability decisions are well supported. Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office.