TDIU claim | What is our role?

TDIU claim Role of a Vocational Expert in a TDIU claim Authors: Devin Lessne, MA, MS, CRC, CDMS, ABVE/F, PVE, IPEC and Claire Ziegler, MA, CRC, IPEC A vocational assessment can provide valuable information for decision makers regarding Total Disability Individual Unemployability cases, also known as TDIU cases. A vocational assessment can help answer the question as to whether a veteran’s service connected disabilities prevent him or her from securing substantially gainful employment. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) defines substantially gainful employment 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” (M21-1MR, Part V, Subpart ii, Chapter 1, Section B).  The VA specifies that substantially gainful employment 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 substantially gainful employment as a result of service related disability, this entitles the veteran to receive 100% compensation for TDIU. Often, decision makers in these types of cases rely on the opinion of physicians and other medical providers to determine if a veteran can still obtain substantially gainful employment.  However, these individuals do not have specialized vocational experience or expertise and are not equipped to determine the true feasibility of a veteran’s ability to work.  A vocational assessment can help bridge the gap between the documented medical and psychological limitations and residual functional limitations within the context of jobs in the present labor market. A vocational assessment is a multi-step process consisting of many different components and is prepared by a vocational expert (VE).  The vocational rehabilitation assessment [...]