Older Veterans with Disability Benefits have Increased
Veterans claiming disability have long since been a growing population, including those veterans who are collecting Total Disability Based on Individual Employability (TDIU). As of 2013 onward, the number of older veterans receiving disability benefits in general have 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. 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 receive them (Independent Budget).
Unique Vocational Challenges are Faced
When it comes to older individuals and TDIUs, there are unique vocational challenges faced by this group. First of all, 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 veterans disability benefits. Secondly, 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, TDIUs have nothing to do with Federal Unemployment Insurance. TIDUs are purely disability compensation benefits. 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)
One of the main vocational areas this could concern would be that of transferability of skills (TSA). TSAs are looked at with regards to the ability to return to work or potential employment for veterans applying for TDIUs. They include any and all skills an individual has obtained from other jobs that could be applied to different jobs in the workforce. Transferability of a 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. However, it is generally not expected that skills would transfer beyond 15 years (Havraneck, J. 2007; Weed, R. O., & Field, T.F., 2001). Therefore, for older veterans who have reached retirement age or are past it, may not have transferable skills as they may not have worked in the past 15 years.
Additionally, there is the 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 by 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.
One of the fastest growing groups of veterans receiving disability benefits as well as TDIUs 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. Older veterans may have additional limitations due to aging, and the length of time that it has been since they have worked may exceed 15 years. As this group continues to get larger, it is important to keep these factors in mind when it comes to Total Disability Based on Individual Employability and the older veteran.
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.