As a veteran, you do not ask for special treatment. You served your country with honor. You dedicated yourself to your unit and the people you worked with. You did a dangerous job and did it well.
You were disabled as a result of your service, and now you only want what the law entitles you to have. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the one agency that should provide you with the most accurate information about your legal rights. Unfortunately, the agency is not always clear about what those are.
You are entitled to a 100% disability rating if you can prove that your service-related disability prevents you from getting gainful employment. In the VA, such claims are known by the abbreviation TDIU, which stands for Total Disability rating based upon Individual Unemployability.
The VA tends to misrepresent how TDIU works. The agency often denies claims because it believes certain veterans are still capable of doing so-called sedentary work. This is a vague and problematic assumption. The VA does not get to arbitrarily define the meaning of sedentary work.
That is the job of the Social Security Administration. According to the SSA, jobs are still considered sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally—which you may not be able to do.
The bottom line is you must know your rights with TDIU. You cannot depend completely on the information given to you by the VA. If your disability has prevented you from getting a job, then you can apply for TDIU status at any time, regardless of the percentage of your TDIU rating.
It is often the case that veterans are given SSA benefits before they are granted VA benefits. Indeed, the receipt of SSA benefits can be used to prove the validity of your TDIU claims.
Dealing with the VA can be frustrating. However, you should not give up. If you have had a legitimate claim rejected, you may need to seek legal counsel to help you pursue the matter. Although many fine people work at the VA, they are not all cognizant of the law regarding TDIU claims.
Over the years, the Social Security Administration has revised and updated its definition of sedentary work. It now acknowledges that there are some cases in which a disability makes it impossible for a person to even sit for prolonged periods of time.
This only acknowledges a truth that should be plain to all: only medical professionals can determine what a person can and cannot do.
It is not up to some clerk or bureaucrat at the VA to tell you the kinds of jobs you are capable of doing. That decision must be left to the experts who know all about your condition. The job of the VA is to provide you with the support and benefits you need to survive.
In the spirit of trying to remain active and engaged in work, you may have tried to secure employment that would lead to a second career. Your disability has made that impossible. As you make other arrangements to create a new life for yourself, you need financial assistance.
The law states that you are entitled to receive it from the VA. You should not take an initial rejection of your TDIU claim as the final word.
However, it may not be possible for you to pursue the matter entirely on your own. Working with a lawyer who has experience in the handling of such cases can be of great benefit to you.
They are familiar with the kind of objections and arguments put forth by the VA to deny claims to disabled veterans. Retaining the services of such a lawyer will give you a fighting chance at getting your benefits.
You fought a war overseas. You must now fight another kind of war at home. The struggle to get your VA benefits will take as much grit, endurance, and determination as any you have ever displayed.
Through it all, you should never lose sight of the fact that the law is on your side. It is up to you to bring it to bear on your case. You should go on until the end—until you get the benefits that are legally and rightfully yours.