Many times a veteran will have multiple disabilities that total less than 100% but nevertheless prevent the veteran from working. In this situation a veteran can still receive a 100% rating under TDIU. While the VA is supposed to consider the combined effect of all the veteran’s service connected impairments, it rarely does. In fact, this is one of the most common errors we see in TDIU claims. Veterans will often be scheduled for multiple Compensation & Pension exams (one for each impairment) and each exam will conclude that the veteran’s single impairment alone does not preclude employment. However, in a TDIU claim, the Regional Office and the VA examiners for that matter are required to consider the combined effect of all the veteran’s service connected impairments on the veteran’s ability to secure and follow substantially gainful employment.
For example, a veteran was service connected for bilateral hearing loss, tinnitus, and PTSD. In June 2011 he attended two Compensation and Pension exams for his TDIU claim. The first VA examiner only evaluated the Veteran’s hearing impairments and determined that his bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus do not preclude sedentary employment. The second VA examiner did the exact opposite and only considered the effect of the veteran’s PTSD on his employability, concluding that the veteran could still work. The veteran’s TDIU claim was denied and he appealed. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals rejected both VA examiners’ opinions in favor of the veteran’s private physician’s opinion which addressed all of the veteran’s service connected impairments and concluded that the veteran was totally disabled. The Board concluded that combination of all the veteran’s service connected impairments render him unemployable and the veteran was granted a 100% rating.
Situations like this are very common among veterans claiming TDIU. It is imperative that you or your attorney review the Compensation and Pension exams to make sure they comply with the VA’s regulations. If they don’t you can have them thrown out and receive a new exam or submit an exam from your own physician.
If you have been denied TDIU, contact us for a free consultation. We will provide a straightforward analysis and explanation of your case and tell you how representation can help.