Can a rating increase of IU or TDIU warrant back pay for a veteran?

Posted on: Monday, June 11, 2018
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Can a rating increase of IU or TDIU warrant back pay for a veteran?

Question

Hello Jim. Thank you in advance for taking the time to help out veterans like myself. I would like to know if a veteran who is rated at 70% and is receiving benefits at 100% IU, files a new claim and is granted 30% for the new claim which now, for the sake of argument, raises his rating to 80%. He has an effective date of one year prior to when the claim was granted. Does this veteran warrant back pay? Again thank you very much for your time.
 

Jim's Reply

You're very welcome sir. I'm happy to try and share some intel.

Probably not.  The IU or TDIU (unemployability) rating is 100%. In very broad terms, once you reach 100% of something, that's it...there is no more. There are circumstances in the VA disability system that don't follow that (or any other) logic but again, for the most part...you've reached the max. Think of it this way...your base rating is 70%. That's one of the qualifying requirements for eligibility to the TDIU 100% rating. If your base rating were raised to 80%, you'd still be eligible for the TDIU 100% and since that's what you've been rated at already, there isn't any gain or retro pay.  To reach beyond the 100% TDIU or the 100% schedular rating requires that you're pretty darn sick. For example, a housebound rating requires that you hold at least a 100% rating plus another rating of at least 60%. Then there's SMC...Special Monthly Compensation. SMC sort of replaces the usual ratings system and converts to a complex system of letters, half numbers and combo platters of all those. When you are disabled enough to be eligible for an SMC rating (other than k, erectile dysfunction) you're blind or mostly so, you've lost combinations of limbs or vision and hearing together. 

If we are rated at 100% and we aren't sure about what may happen if we seek an earlier effective date or something similar, we have to do a risk/benefit analysis. The risk is that when we ask VA to open our file, they open everything. I can't count the numbers of times veterans have asked for increases or retro and had benefits reduced. So...are a couple months retro (questionable at best) worth the risk of a reduction struggle? 

Most of us who are rated 100% schedular or TDIU suffer an impairment that negatively affects our ability to compete in the workplace. We are compensated for our loss of function(s) that keep us from working to the max of our ability. Veterans who are rated beyond the basic rating tables are usually impaired to a much greater degree.  Their disabling conditions don't just affect their ability to hold gainful employment, the conditions affect their abilities to perform activities of daily living...those are the functions that allow us to care for ourselves safely.  If you aren't able to care for yourself, you may think about seeking an SMC. 

Otherwise, you've probably reached the ceiling of your disability benefits as well as any possibility of earlier effective dates. I'd pass on this one if it were me.

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