Search Jims Mailbag
I really enjoy following your blog and your comments and I think it's tremendous that you take time out of your own life to help veterans try to figure out the Veterans Affairs disability system. I joined the DAV about a year ago and I'm the adjutant for my local chapter in Northern Virginia, but I still can't find the answer to what I perceive as a very simple question. Is there any difference between benefits a spouse receives now or in the future (after the Vet passes away) if the Vet is rated 100% disabled due to individual unemployability versus 100% disabled due to the schedule? I've actually looked all over the place for this answer and cannot find it anywhere.
An attorney friend of mine who specializes in this area told me just today that there indeed is some sort of a difference. According to him, the difference has nothing to do with a monthly check amount received by the vet during his or her life but instead deals with ancillary benefits available to the spouse. I'm concerned that my wife will receive nothing if I'm not hundred 100% due to individual unemployability versus schedule upon my death. I know if I am 100% and live 10 years under the schedule she will receive some amount of money monthly. I truly don't know if this applies to individual unemployability however? Furthermore, I have no clue what other benefits are out there that do or do not accrue to my wife after my death - Does she receive more benefits if I am 100% due to schedule versus unemployability?
Would you mind writing in your blog some short answers or guidance to help me to find those answers? This might be applicable to many veterans and their families. Certainly you can respond to this email direct to me if you desire.
Once again, thank you for your efforts. If you are so very busy you can never respond to this email I certainly understand that as well. I wish you the best my friend, and appreciate your service.
The benefits that are available for a dependent of a 100% schedular disabled veteran and a 100% TDIU disabled veteran are exactly the same. The confusion comes from the fact that it isn't the rating of schedular v. TDIU but permanent v temporary assignments of the benefits.
Any 100% rated veteran get's the same money and basic benefits. The TDIU rating is simply a recognition by VA that the Schedule For Rating Disabilities (the Schedule) often falls short. The Schedule is where we get the term "schedular" as it applies to a rating. Because of the Combined Ratings Table (CRT or "VA math") some ratings won't make it to 100% by the schedule. Yet those veterans won't be able to hold gainful employment because of their multiple service connected disabilities.
The TDIU ratings process recognizes that and compensates for it by recognizing that there are many vets who are unemployable because of service connected disabilities. In the end, the 100% rating of a TDIU veteran is exactly the same as a veteran who is rated 100% by the schedule.
But wait...it isn't precisely the same...typical of VA. The veteran who is rated 100% by the Schedule is allowed to work. Many veterans who are rated as 100% schedular are working and earning good salaries. The TDIU rated vet isn't allowed to hold gainful employment because his 100% rating is contingent upon his inability to hold gainful employment.
The real confusion starts when we determine whether or not the 100% rating, whether schedular or TDIU, is a permanent rating or a temporary rating. Any rating awarded by VA may be assigned as being temporary or permanent.
A temporary rating is awarded when VA has reason to believe that there will be improvement in the rated condition. Many temporary 100% ratings are awarded for hospital stays, mental health ratings and treatments for conditions such as a service connected cancer. There is a significant body of evidence that says that many of these conditions will improve with treatment.
A permanent rating is awarded when it is readily apparent that the chances of improvement of the condition are slim to none.
Whether or not dependents of a 100% rated veteran are eligible for the enhanced benefits of DIC, CHAMPVA and Chapter 35 DEA are based in the permanence of the award. not the label of schedular or TDIU. Permanence is usually referred to as P & T.
So...the rules are the same across the board. If a veteran dies of a service connected condition, under any circumstances and regardless of the overall rating, the dependent survivors are eligible for DIC.
If you are rated 100% P & T (either schedular or TDIU) and you die within 10 years of the assignment of the rating, your death must be caused or contributed to by a service connected condition. If, within that 10 year period, you get run over by a fast moving bus, your survivors will not be eligible for any benefits.
Once you have held a P & T 100% rating for 10 years, you may feel free to step in front of that bus and your dependent survivors will be eligible to apply for the enhanced benefits.
If the 100% rating is temporary and even if you hold it for years, those benefits won't be there unless you die of a service connected condition. This is one reason that investigating secondary conditions is important. For example, if you have diabetes as a service connected rating, you are more likely to die of a heart attack or a stroke. If you are rated at 20% for the DMII and your demise is caused by a sudden unexpected heart attack, your surviving spouse is probably eligible for DIC benefits. But she'll have to know that and ask for it.
Still confused? Are you rated as temporary 100% or P & T? Do you have opportunities to explore secondary conditions?
I cover much of this on pages of my blog. Please click and read;
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to reply to this message and ask. I'm never too busy to respond to emails from veterans...this (along with my wife, my grandson, my Harley, and a lot of other enjoyable pastimes) is what I do. I enjoy hearing from you and many others and if I've helped to straighten out a few of the twists and turns that VA puts in our way, my day is made!