Older Veterans and TDIU: The Unique Vocational Challenges for a Growing Population

Veterans claiming disability has long since been a growing population, including those veterans who are collecting Total Disability Based on Individual Employability (TDIU). From 2013 onward, the number of older veterans receiving disability benefits, in general, has increased. According to an article published by GAO in 2015, there was a 73% increase in the subgroup of beneficiaries who were aged 65 and older.

Older individuals and TDIU

Additionally, among new beneficiaries, there were around 2,800 veterans who were 75 and older and over 400 beneficiaries who were 90 or older. The population of veterans who are 65 and older has only continued to grow since 2013. According to Rudstam et al. (2018), there were 9.2 million veterans over the age of 65 in 2017. With regards to veterans receiving TDIU benefits, approximately 200,000 of the veterans over the age of 65 are receiving them  (Independent Budget).

When it comes to older individuals and TDIU, there are unique vocational challenges faced by this group. First, there is the concept of VA regulations to be considered. Despite what may be seen with the retirement age being 65 in the workforce, there are VA regulations that preclude age from being a determining factor in veteran’s disability benefits.

Second, TDIU does not have anything to do with retirement and pension. It is not thought to be similar or different to Social Security Retirement benefits as it is something else entirely. Finally, TDIU has nothing to do with Federal Unemployment Insurance. TIDU is purely a disability compensation benefit. Additionally, a veteran who is awarded a TDIU receives the same level of compensation and ancillary benefits as a veteran in receipt of a total 100 percent rating.

Transferable skills analysis (TSA)

From a vocational standpoint, an area of consideration is a transferable skills analysis (TSA). A TSA is key in identifying potential alternative employment for veterans applying for TDIUs. It includes any skills an individual has obtained from other jobs that could be applied to different jobs in the workforce.

Transferability of skill is believed to be reliable job information, especially when the jobs have the same or lesser degree of skill, the same or similar tools and/or machines, or the same or similar raw materials, products, processes, or services involved (SSR 82-41).

However, it is generally not expected that skills would transfer beyond 15 years (Havranek, J. 2007; Weed, R. O., & Field, T.F., 2001). Therefore, older veterans, who have reached retirement age or are past it, may not have transferrable skills as they may not have worked in the past 15 years.

Additionally, there is a question. If natural physical and mental limitations that occur with aging would impact an individual’s vocational ability. While this is not something that can be directly answered? A vocational counselor or vocational expert. There will need to be medical documentation that clearly states what limitations are service-connected. And what has been affected by age. Otherwise, there may be a risk of indicating a limitation is service-connected when it could be traced back to natural aging.

TDIU benefits

One of the fastest-growing groups of veterans receiving disability benefits as well as TDIU benefits is those who are 65 and older. While the VA does not consider age to be a factor. When determining if an individual can receive a total disability, there are naturally some unique vocational challenges that can occur.

For instance, older veterans may have additional limitations. This is due to aging or the length of time that they have been out of the workforce. That may exceed 15 years. As this group continues to get larger, it is important to keep these factors in mind when it comes to TDIU and the older veterans.


Havraneck, J. (2007). Advanced issues in forensic rehabilitation (199). Athens, GA: Elliott & Fitzpatrick.
Social Security Ruling (SSR) 82-41. Retrieved on September 16, 2020, from https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/rulings/di/02/SSR82-41-di-02.html
Weed, R. O., & Field, T. F. (2001). Transferable skills analysis. In Rehabilitation Consultants Handbook (pp. 101-103). Athens, GA: Elliott and Fitzpatrick, Inc.