The Role Of Vocational Experts In TDIU Cases and SSDI Cases?

What is the role of vocational experts in TDIU cases and SSDI cases? According to an article by Muller et al. (2004). In recent years, there have been pushes to have more coordination between the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) disability compensation program and Social Security Administration (SSA)’s disability programs. This has been done to help improve the interaction between the two organizations.  It best serves veterans by helping to improve access to Social Security disability benefits for military personnel from 2001 onwards.

Part of the interaction and collaboration between the two agencies is required by law. It includes medical evidence and hospital records, disability determinations, and benefit receipt and payment amounts. Also, both SSA and the VA are required to consider one another’s disability decision in their own determinations. It is important to note that the VA and SSA use different classification systems for establishing impairment. As a result, any SSA disability determinations would be an important aspect for a TDIU case whenever it is applicable for the veteran (Muller et al, 2004).

Conditions For TDIU and SSDI

According to a report by Moulta-Ali, U. (2012), in a comparison between the VA and SSA programs, each agency has different definitions and requirements to meet in order to be found disabled. For SSA, there is a 5-step process. The individual’s income has to fall below SGA, the condition or conditions have to be expected to last longer than 12 months or result in death. The condition(s) must meet SSA medical listings, the veteran should be unable to perform his/her past work. Also if the condition would not allow him/her to work in other jobs that exist within the national economy. To have a TDIU rating for the VA, there has to be either a service-connected condition which is found to be rated at least 60% by the standards or several service-connected disabilities that are found to have a combined rating decision at least 70%.

The Important Role That Vocational Experts Play

What does this mean for Vocational Experts?  Vocational Experts are frequently used for both TDIU cases and SSA cases, providing specialized information about employment and the workforce. In order to give a proper vocational opinion on whether a veteran should be found unable to work, evidence that has been obtained for both agencies should be included in the file review. Without it, the file review may not be complete. This is because the opinion provided must be determined by medical facts as well as lay statements from the veteran, friends and/or family. While an interview with the veteran or letters written by individuals who know the veteran provide important day to day information, objective medical documents are essential.

This is especially true because of the differences between the two agencies. There must be a chronology of the service-connected condition(s) to show the impact of these condition(s) on the veteran’s life and his/her ability to work. Also, the manner in which some factors are considered, as they relate to a veteran’s ability to work, is different. For example, age is not a factor for TDIU and is a factor for SSDI. Due to these differences, a veteran may receive benefits from SSA, but be denied TDIU from the VA. The veteran’s condition has not changed but the rules and requirements for being approved are far different.

The interaction between the Social Security Administration and Department of Veteran’s Affairs has been something that has been occurring for many years now. Vocational Experts should know the differences between SSA and the VA as well as what each organization requires in order to determine unemployability.


Moulta-Ali, U., & Panangala, S. V. (2015). Veterans’ benefits: The impact of military discharges on basic eligibility. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

Muller, S.L., Early, N., & Ronca, J. (2014). Veterans Who Apply for Social Security Disabled-Worker Benefits After Receiving a Department of Veterans Affairs Rating of “Total Disability” for Service-Connected Impairments: Characteristics and Outcomes. Social Security Bulletin a74 (3).

About Vocational Expert Services

At Vocational Expert Services, Inc, our mission is to offer vocational rehabilitation services crucial to the vocational rehabilitation process and also provide an objective analysis of vocational factors for the public, legal, and risk management community. Our experts also administer many vocational assessments to veterans. Our vocational rehabilitation assessment methodology fulfills the VA requirements.  It addresses the critical questions in TDIU claims (Total Disability Individual Unemployability). Do you have a Veteran’s TDIU case? Speak to one of our vocational experts today. Call 407-401-9745 or Toll-Free at 888-436-2652