Can I Lose My 100 Percent Disability Rating If I Find A Job Or Use VA Voc Rehab To Get A Job?
Mailroom: The simple answer to this common question about your 100 percent disability rating is, “Maybe.” But rather than guess about your own disability rating, here are some facts to help you assess your own disability and employment prospects.
We get questions like this one quite often in our 26,000 veteran Facebook group wondering how working or using VA Voc Rehab will affect their disability rating in the long run.
While the answer to this question can be complex, there are some simple ways to think about your disability rating to make finding the answer to this question easier. Put another way, I am about to tell you how to figure out if working or retraining through VA Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VA Voc Rehab) may reduce your rating.
To break this down, we will walk through how to evaluate your rating and then individual possible outcomes that may impact that rating. After that, I’ll run through a couple hypotheticals that should help you figure out the rest for yourself.
Like I said, we get this question a lot, and I want veterans to be armed with the truth before they make decisions or even speak with federal employees about their options. The following will answer many of your questions, but I can only assume it will not answer all.
RELATED: Key Voc Rehab Definitions You Need To Know
The 30,000 Foot View
I’ll use the following hypothetical veterans to address some of the issues you’ll need to consider as you move forward in your assessment:
Veteran #1: Veterans who are 100% Permanent & Total have the lowest odds of having their disability rating reduced.
Veteran #2: Veterans with 100% Regular Schedular ratings may have their disability rating reduced if any of their underlying combined ratings are based on the veteran’s ability to gain employment.
Veteran #3: 100% TDIU veterans will likely have their rating reduced back to their combined rating once they earn more than marginal employment. Marginal employment is generally the amount of the poverty threshold.
I get into these more in-depth below after addressing underlying differences in disability ratings and why that matters.
No One Veteran Is The Same As You
First, there is not one person in the universe who is an exact duplicate of another person… at least as far as we know. It also stands to reason that it is impossible to exactly replicate the experiences of any one person.
This means no one is the same as you. You are unique. Your experiences are unique.
Likewise, your 100% disability rating is also unique.
Now, I realize some of you are thinking of cyber friends you made on Facebook who have the same rating you have for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or TBI or some other condition and thinking, “How can we be different if our rating is the same?”
Without evaluating this, I can personally promise you that anyone else other than you will never have the same exact underlying body, injuries, experiences and permanent disabilities as any other person.
No one is the same. No rating is the same.
You may both have a 70% PTSD rating that adds up to 100% when combined with another rating, but I am highly suspicious the underlying circumstances resulting in those ratings is likely different.
Goal And Outcome Of Employment
Second, merely by saying you want a job or saying you want retraining to get a job may mean wildly different things to different people. Each person may have a different goal or aspiration related to employment.
Some veterans will want to get a job working within a company, which is the most common goal. Other veterans might want employment merely to keep busy. And still other veterans may seek employment in a protected work environment because they cannot get work in a normal work environment.
Each of these options may have dramatically different income potentials or long-term prospects. Suffice to say, again, every option for every person will be different.
RELATED: Use Voc Rehab For Reasonable Accommodations At Work
Differences Don’t Prevent Analysis
Basically, it is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all answer, but that does not keep us from creating a framework that helps aggregate some similarities. By locating these similarities, we can create the following matrix of hypotheticals to know better how employment or retraining might impact your rating.
Veteran #1: 100% Permanent & Total
This veteran has a rating that is static meaning VA believes the rating or ratings will not change in the future. Generally, any kind of employment or use of Voc Rehab for training will not result in a disability rating reduction.
However, veterans with a 100% PT rating who have underlying ratings for PTSD or similar that preclude all employment but later improve to allow employment or retraining may face scrutiny from the agency if they gain and maintain employment.
That aside, many veterans including yours truly have 100% PT ratings but are able to earn a living working that is higher than marginal employment.
Veteran #2: 100% Regular Schedular Rating
Like the above rating, the real question is focuses on the composition of the disability rating:
- What is your rating?
- What does the VA disability rating schedule say about your rating?
This is rather important because some disability ratings like PTSD or TBI indicate the veteran cannot work at all, and the reason they get the rating is that they cannot work.
Generally, veterans with high disability ratings solely focused on the brain and an inability work will likely face VA scrutiny over their new job and rating. The same holds for someone attending college through VA Voc Rehab.
Just note that simply attending college is not, in and of itself, sufficient to prove a veteran can gain and maintain beyond marginal employment. College coursework is certainly not the same as working.
Other veterans without these kinds of underlying ratings have lower odds of their overall disability ratings being reduced.
Veteran #3: 100% Disability Rating For TDIU
Be aware this scenario has a lot of variables including:
- Permanent vs Temporary TDIU
- 60% vs 70% underlying disability rating
- Marginal Employment vs Employment
- Protected Work Environment
This veteran has a disability rating for TDIU. This stands for Total Disability Individual Unemployability.
Generally speaking, veterans with this rating cannot earn more than the poverty threshold without a reduction in their rating from 100% to whatever their underlying rating is. Normally, marginal employment is the same or less than the poverty threshold, which is around $11,000 in a given year, and someone who is only marginally employed may receive TDIU monies without losing their 100% rating payment.
I will cover more on this at the bottom of this section addressing protected work environment aka sheltered employment.
Different Rating Qualifications
A TDIU rating is an extra-schedular rating provided to veterans who cannot reasonably gain employment as a consequence of their service-connected disability rating. Veterans qualify for TDIU if they have one rating that is 60% or higher; or, they have a combined rating of at least 70% with one rating at 40%.
If a veteran in this category is employed in a normal job earning more than the poverty level, they will usually lose their extra-schedular rating. If that veteran keeps receiving TDIU payments while earning more than the poverty threshold, VA will reduce the overall rating and also deduct the overpayment from future disability payments.
It is best to be proactive when you know a change to your rating will result in earning more than the poverty threshold.
Temporary vs Permanent TDIU
A veteran might also have a temporary TDIU rating following a hospital stay or mental illness. Temp ratings are given when the agency believes the person will get better at some point to some degree or another.
Permanent TDIU ratings are given when the VA believes the individual will not improve.
Sheltered Employment In Protected Work Environment
A veteran can earn more money in a given year than the poverty threshold if they work in a protected work environment and still receive TDIU. This amount can be quite substantial, but the criteria to qualify as a protected work environment is rather vague.
A protected work environment is one where the employer makes special and significant accommodations for the veteran that do not impact or reduce the veteran’s earnings or benefits.
The assessment for what might qualify as a “protected” environment is a detailed fact-based analysis. They type of accommodations provided the veteran in this context will help answer whether the veteran qualifies.
Two examples of protected work environments are:
- A family business
- A sheltered work environment
Rather than get in the weeds on this one issue, as it is rather complicated, I’ll summarize when VA might consider a veteran as being protected. The disabled vet is paid the same or similar amount as other employees doing the same or similar work and one or more of the following is true, from CCK Law:
- The veteran is excused from critical functions of their job due to the limitations caused by his or her disability. The veteran employee may, for example, be allowed to skip meetings or trainings that other employees have to attend.
- The veteran is less productive than other workers. For example, a veteran with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) who works on an assembly line might produce half as many things that another worker would produce in a day (because it is harder for her to concentrate). If the veteran receives the same pay and benefits as the person without a disability, then her work environment might be considered “protected.”
- The veteran is less reliable than other workers. Another example: A veteran who has PTSD works for his brother’s company. Because he has PTSD, the veteran has trouble sleeping and often shows up to work very late and sometimes not at all. But his brother (the employer) does not deduct pay for the days the veteran misses or comes in late because he knows his brother’s actions are the result of a disability.
- The employer does not penalize the veteran for behavioral issues and/or mistakes related to their disability. Some mental health and other conditions cause people to have trouble with interpersonal interactions or unpredictable behavior. Such conditions might make it easier to make mistakes on the job or forget to do things. A work environment where the veteran’s employer and co-workers accommodate these kinds of limitations might be considered “protected,” especially if it could be argued that the behaviors wouldn’t be tolerated by the typical employer.
VA Voc Rehab And TDIU
Additionally, many VA Voc Rehab counselors tell veterans they cannot receive benefits from the program while receiving TDIU. This assertion, however, is false without a deeper analysis. It is false to simply conclude all veterans with TDIU cannot use the program.
Logically, veterans can be unemployable given their current skill level or training, receive benefits from Voc Rehab, and then become employable once they gain employment.
In this latter scenario, the veteran should lose their benefits once they gain employment or at least once they have the ability to gain and maintain substantive employment. Now, VRE does ping Disability Compensation when veterans receive TDIU for an evaluation.
RELATED: TDIU Myth – Vets With 100% TDIU Can Use Voc Rehab
While we do not address all issues here in this article, it does highlight some high-level factors most veterans can address whenever they ask the question, “If I get a job, will my 100% disability rating go down?”
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer you in a next couple days.
My trust in VA and DAV IS ZERO i was on SSI at 55 in 2004 received 70% prior to 2008 went 100% level 1.I t handle my money paid bills on time gave VA guy my paperwork,paperwork was not turn in so VA took over funds.They would not pay bills except house payment electric bill.Itold point blank to use my SS. to pay my other bills time paid SS insurance,food,gas and other bills i was under water.They sent my son a letter saying he owe almost 40,000.00 good VA strike again.my son was afraid be go prison.Idon’t trust VA ii always kept 3 copies of bank statements.I sent a verify copy to Jentucky.They sent a letter stating they never receive paperwork from VA rep.They said my son didn’t owe any money.DAV wouldn’t help so i have bills not paid.FICO score barely over 500.So no VA loans or bank loans.VA ALLOW me buy truck out of my VA.TRUST account in Tennessee.BUT my rep.would keep title in my TRUST account.I have try everything 68 years old i need help.!!
Eyeballs aren’t clear enough yet but.
Has anyone got or seen the video from Russel Erwin? I got his cell phone video sent to my FB messenger but can’t share it, move it along, or copy it. Can’t find it on Utube or the net either. Waiting on the sender that is in another VA hosp to get back to me about any further info. Going by FB alone in the timeline it flashes and disappears.
He has made this video and wanting it to go viral. He is in James Cancer Center in Ohio. Cancer in all his vitals. VA refused testing multiple times and ignored his complaints for a year. Put him on Choice but not for a local hospital but had to drive a distance and too incapacitated to travel.
Nope. Update. This was two years ago. The guy thought this was a new video.
VA Medical Center is located in Wilmington, Delaware. I know that there has been a couple of recent Directors of this facility that wasn’t kosher. I know of one Director that hindered a Federal Investigation and basically had his hand slapped for it.
To tell you the truth, I know how our Brothers and Sisters feel, the ones who have taken the law into their own hands. I’ve even told a VA Social Worker what was happening, and he agreed that the VA system is messed up. Those that don’t tug the rope get the worse of their damn behavior of corruption.
As a Biologist, the VA IMO, lacks the special touch of helping the 21st Century Veteran. I’d bet from what I read, that as much as 75% or more of Vets who use the VA are unsatisfied. What I’m going through is quite serious. And Brothers and Sisters, don’t listen to those who don’t stand by you while you’re going through the rough times. There a dime a dozen, and think their so smart by telling you what’s wrong in your life, but you, the one going through in live, sees, feels, and knows something else.
What I’m saying is, trust your gut, your instinct, and find those that will stick by your side. Those that redeem themselves with you, are worthy of letting them back into your life. That’s only if the redeeming is for real and solid. But, there are many in sheep’s clothing, or are just too tied up in their mess, that they too immature to pick up on the reality of what you’re going through.
You’ll even find these individuals in your family, even some of your so-called friends will tire of you. Even when you’re actually going through the trauma of everything crashing down upon you. I’m being totally upfront with you, that when I feel like I’m 17 – 18 and still in boot camp mode, that it brings to your mind that you want to fuck someone up. Just for the payback for fucking you up, and god knows how many before you.
I’m concerned because of my heart, I had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), due to a 100% blockage of the LAD artery, the largest and most important artery on the left side of your heart. And, during the process, I almost died twice. When I was laying on the stainless steel cold table top, the screen showing the arteries of my heart was right to my left side. The Cardiologist said to me, “yep, you’ve got a blocked LAD artery, and we measured it to be fully blocked. I told the Cardi, let me show you were it’s at on the screen, then I lifted my right arm and pointed directly at the block. I guess the static and scanning microscopy came in handy while going to college in Hawaii.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, but my main goal is to protect my life, wife, my K9 PTSD service dog, and to hold onto our apartment. You see the VA isn’t just a little dirty, their filthy. VA also knows that if I have to go into the hospital, that this will jeopardize my living quarters. And Bro, this isn’t right. At night, the anxiety is ruthless. Shoots up in less than a second. I can feel the jolt when that happens.
WyldeChylde and T, thanks for the support, and I’ll try to use, time depending, the suggestions and input that you’ve posted. Keep your younger love ones away from the recruiters office. Let Trump encourage his family members to join, then to get out, then to get fucked over like many that I’ve read about over the short time that I’ve been posting on Ben’s blog.
@Benjamin Krause, a good article would be for what a Vet should do when they run into obstacles like mine or worse about their VA healthcare. We need to look these VA employees up, and let go of those that were sentenced for carrying Cannabis. A-holes, all of them.
Watch your six my Brothers and Sisters, and don’t give up the good fight. And, I know that if it gets any worse, I’m going to call my good friend in NY, and drop some names on him, Tony LaRosa (that’s not his really name, but you get the point). He’s the same one that wanted to send my ex-wife a couple dozen roses for her not so loving actions towards me while going through a divorce when I lived in Hawaii. You know, a reminder of appreciation towards someone for the good deeds and shit (focusing on the shit). A loud, or silent appreciation for the love that she had shown.
I’m not sure but i think one of those directors may have been stationed at the Lebanon vamc and they moved him to wilmington vamc, can’t remember, i’ll have to look it up, maybe i was dreaming.
If you think that the VA doesn’t try to hurt Veterans more, or to cause ill, or even the possibility of death? Don’t think twice about it, let my inform you in a summarized manner.
VA knows that I need to gain muscle mass to have the endurance and stamina that would allow me to give rise to the muscle strength that I would need to do a 3.0-hour time frame outside of my residence. This has been the agreed upon goal, and that there was to be no changes in my medical care until the point to where I gained the strength to make doctor appointments. This time is conservative, and includes; getting ready for the appointment, traveling to the local VA facility, waiting for and physically having the doctors appointment, the waiting for scripts at the Pharmacy, and then traveling back to my residence.
But I’ve yet to have the VA to be stabilized in providing the in-home medical and physical therapy services that I need, in order to reach the goal mentioned above. These services include; in-home visits by a Behavioral Health Nurse (once a week), having access to a Clinical Pharmacologist to find alternative medicines that I agree with, and rhe regular in-home Physical Therapy services twice a week, PT services were provided by a Doctor of PT, and to make sure that I’d be prescribed the same amount of medication each month for the chronic pain.
What’s happen now? Remember it’s known that I can’t get out of my residence to make doctors appointments. Well my VA PCP went, without me knowing when, she transferred me to another Physician. So, I now have NO in-home services, I have NO assistance in building up my muscle strength (ongoing VA problem of lack of contact, updates, support), and now, since I haven’t seen the new Doctor (which I can’t get out), the VA will not prescribe me any of my regular pain medication.
The VA has, in my opinion, violated my regular medical rights, but my disability rights as well. Plus, I was transferred to another Provider without any notice, input, or plan of action. Now I’m stuck, and the VA puts this into my lap. Why?
The Patient Advocate, and the Director don’t return my calls. Today, I spoke with a Social Worker, and he told me that he doesn’t know what to do. So, that’s it, I have no VA medical services, even though I have called the VA, but they expect me to come in when I can’t, and they know that I can’t.
So tell me, how fucking arrogant can the VA be? Tell me. My problem now is, who do I trust, what happens now?, stay home, no contact with others and rot? I told them they should be locked up. And, if I knew the weapon experience of new Veterans, and you know they can get access to almost anything (the ones I know can), why would these VA employees act so stupid?
This may or may not be my last post for a while, stress is way to much, and every time I read something on Ben’s blog, I either get pissed off to a point where I can’t stand it, or I get so wired up that I’ve got to write a comment, but the end means of both are the same, high anxiety, stress, followed by an uptick in pain.
So, if nothing changes here very shortly, I’ll be spazzing and shaking in my skin from unattended withdrawals. Something to look forward too isn’t?
I hate the VA. I know about the VA, but does anyone have any other input or suggestions.
Sorry about grammar and spelling mistakes, been in a weird mood lately.
Without knowing what state your in I can only give limited info. Most states have a crisis line you can call to track down relevant state services if offered. Also your state should have a dept that handles vet issues as well, may or may not help, it’s a roll of the dice really. Also what about the WH hotline. I called last week and got transferred to the VA national center for my particular issue, your mileage may vary.
The bigger question is. When the VA ignores you to the point where you’re wasting away and writhing in pain there absolutely needs to be somebody you can turn to who is both effective and aggressive in getting your issue resolved. Do you not have affordable veteran legal representation? I was fortunate enough to find a veterans legal center in my state that was willing to pursue my case free of charge. So far I’m satisfied and I think my case will be resolved hopefully soon this year.
Hope the info helps. The only other thing I can think of to say is get your ass into the VA by any means necessary and document the process and pain.
Get well soon man.
WyldeChylde, I’m in one of the most corrupted States of our Country, Delaware, with one of the most oldest Old boy networks.
I used to live in Delaware. Thank god it wasn’t slower Delaware…
Nutter, sad and sorry you have to go through that crap. If people would check into those posters about patient rights and such… on our side there is none of it enforcible even by law, just for show and hype. Patient rights is total bull… or in my state it is, and elsewhere from what I have always heard. If we dig deep enough the issues lay in the laps of VA and top government officials, Congress, swamp monsters, plus the AMA and medical boards/poly-ticks at the local, state and federal/high corporate levels. Sad to say our quality of life, needs, is not at the top of their agendas or to do lists. It also shows the truth about all these volunteer groups and organizations on TV or local news that claim to go out to help those like you… for free or super cheap.
Bottom line is more of the public needs to hear about what some vets are going through while they think we get it all and treated very well. Instead of all the silence and being censored like mad.
If I find a way to expose the VA more or faster, I’ll surely post it right here on Ben’s blog. With endings saying, “Now go and get those ass-wipes, and expose their asses.”
Trump; got to focus more on your promises, or you’re going to start losing the backing of Veterans. Probably already started too, but wish not.
I’ve come to believe that most employees at VA, suffer from the Dunning-Krugar Effect, ( a cognitive bias, wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition , low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence) you should wikipedia it, its kinda interesting. I wish i could help more, Wyldechylde and T had some very very good advice, hope it can help. Withdraw can be life threatening, I cann’t believe they did that (yeah i can). They have put you in a life threatening situation and legal acition should be take against them. Your absolutely right they should be locked up, i don’t mean to be up setting, but us veterans have got to start banding together to fight back, bring back the sit in, start boycotting these Drs and nurses in their private practices or any business that does business with them, shame them in public, I’m not sure but i think a lot of them have private practices elsewhere. Start are own network, start showing, and documenting their incompetence, and broadcast it on all available media platforms. Senior groups might help too, anyway get to the VA or any hospital, withdraw can be very very dangerous and coupled with other problems life threatening and can do a lot of neurological damage.
I’ll go to the Private Sector hospital. I don’t trust the VA or myself around them. Their actions bring thoughts to my mind, that aren’t too nice. I hope through all of this, that I find a way to put pressure on the VA to change. But, there’s no Accountability, and really, Trump needs to lobby more for changes since his promises are on the curb for now. More important to deal with the Vagina Critters, movies stars, hookers, strippers, deep throater’s, and the rest of the cunts (no offense to the good women out there).
Anyone that trusts the VA don’t know anything, I mean i don’t know that much either but i know when someone or some institution is trying or is about to screw me. I think you made a wise choice going to the private sector.
I WAS RATED 100% IU IN 1999, STRICTLY FOR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITIES THE MAJOR ONE WAS 60 % FOR SEVERE MULTI-JOINT OSTEOARTHRITIS FOR LUMBAR SPINE, BI-LATERAL HIPS, PLUS LEFT ANKLE, DIABETES TYPE II, ANXIETY, MAJOR DEPRESSION, AND PERFIFERAL NEUROPATHY BI-LATERAL LOWER EXTREMTIES SECONDARY TO DIABETES, WHEN I WAS 57 YEARS OLD. I IMMEDIATELY SUBMITTED A CLAIM TO BE RATED TOTAL AND PERMANENT. THIS CLAIM WAS APPROVED AND I HAVE BEEN RATED 100% T&P EVER SINCE, WHICH IS 18 YEARS NOW. SINCE THEN I WAS GRANTED COMPENSATION FOR LOSS OF A REPRODUCTIVE ORGAN FOR ED SECONDARY TO DIABETES. HAVE NOW HAD BOTH HIPS REPLACED.
I HAVE NEVER WORKED EVEN ONE DAY SINCE I WAS RATED 100% T&P IN APR 2000. I WAS GIVEN VOC REHAB, BUT ONLY FOR A COMPUTER FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING WHILE I WAS LIVING IN A REMOTE MOUNTAINTOP CABIN AS A RECLUSE IN WEST VIRGINIA. I COMPLETED A MASTERS DEGREE IN 1998, BUT WITHOUT VOC REHAB, I ONLY USED MY GI BILL FOR EDUCATION.
MY VA LETTER STATING SUMMARY OF BENEFITS I CURRENTLY RECIEVE FROM VA SHOWS : “YOU ARE CONSIDERED TO BE TOTALLY AND PERMANENTYLY DISABLED DUE SOLELY TO YOUR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITIES.” AND “YOU ARE IN RECEIPT OF SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSTION DUE TO THE TYPE AND SEVERITY OF YOUR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITIES.”
I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PTSD BY VA ABOUT SEVEN YEARS AGO AND HAVE BEEN TREATED BY VA FOR PTSD SINCE THAT TIME. I TRIED TO GET DAV TO SUBMIT A CLAIM FOR ME FOR PTSD AND HOUSEBOUND ALLOWANCE THREE TIMES BUT DAVADVISED ME TO NOT SUBMIT A CLAIN UNTIL I HAD HELD MY 100% T&P RATING FOR 20 YEARS WHICH WILL BE IN APRIL 2020. I AM NOW ALMOST 76 YEARS OLD AND CANNOT IMAGINE VA TAKING MY 100% AWARD AWAY FROM ME AT THIS TIME.
DO YOU BELIEVE I WOULD BE SAFE TO FILE A CLAIM FOR PTSD AND HOUSEBOUND ALLOWANCE NOW, OR SHOULD I WAIT UNTIL APR 20230?
THANK YOU SIR,
DONALD FORREST HOLLAND
MCPO USN RET 30 YEARS SERVICE/ MAY 1961 TO JUN 1991
100% DISABLED SERVICE CONNECTED/ 18 YEARS SINCE APR 2000
ADDRESS: 20651 NETHERLAND ST
ORLANDO, FL 32833
@Donald Forrest Holland I’m uncertain as to whether or not you meant to post your contact information in a public forum, or if you meant to send your message directly to Ben. Your phone number and address are visible. Thought I’d give you a heads-up.
Yep. May want to have that deleted or deal with some consequences from innocent actions taken.
I DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYONE KNOWING WHO I AM OR WHERE I AM AT OR EVEN MY PHONE NUMBER, I GET A LOT OF SPAM E-MAIL, SNAIL MAIL, AND PHONE CALLS BUT THEY NEVER BOTHER ME.
I am rated at 90% due to Parkinson’s disease and ptsd, I work one night a week at a closed plant as a security guard and make under the Poverty level, My DAV rep wants Me to quit working and apply for tdiu I asked My DAV rep if I had to quit My Temp job and They said I would have to quit before the VA would consider bumping Me to 100%.I am 68. Does anyone know if this is true?
Ray, here I am not allowed to earn anything or work the slightest of jobs. Seems others are told differently. That included being a level 8 or far below the poverty level years before getting the VA dis and rating. Any and all income had to reported to adjust my checks and to qualify whether my Medicare payments per month would be covered or not. Same as today at 65 and my employment status. Some say this is not correct and for those on SSI only, not for SSD. Two different things. Around and around she goes.. where she stops… nobody knows. It’s impossible to get all these agencies, groups, etc., together and find out what all the hell is going on or what the facts are.
It’s also odd that years back to attend some universities through Voc Rebab or not it was demanded that I take some physical or gym activity to complete my entry or continue on with my academic studies. Cough cough. Nothing I could do was not any programs offered or allowed, or considered to be “a sport.” Some issue prevented me from doing as requested. I had to accept what ‘they’ offered or allowed back then. Circa 1980s to 90s. How it is today I don’t know.
This is an excellent write up and it gets more murky with the decision on ‘chronic pain as a disability’ for the veteran. The Court found that disability is not related to injury but to ability. If you have the ability to work and receive disability compensation because you have been judged to be ‘unable’ to work, you can face issues.
However, this decision could be more beneficial for some veterans who have been overlooked in the past, who have the ability to work in ‘certain’ circumstance and are not eligible for compensation – in the opinion of the VA evaluator.
I think some retraining (or maybe they should be recycled through the course) is necessary so that evaluators are aware it is not a game, but a commitment that was made to care for our veterans who signed the blank check to defend our country.
There is another obvious issue with a disabled vet getting work or training to be able to work. Vets on 100% VBA compensation are also likely on SSDI benefits as well. SSDI only cares that you are able to work or not so if you go back to work it means you are. Training to go back to work can also be seen as a significant improvement medically irregardless of how you actually are medically during a review or if you actually find a job. Significant medical improvements are a basis for denial during a review and some things like successful training can actually be viewed as a significant medical improvement for an SSDI review.
You can appeal a decision to discontinue your SSDI but the problem is that attorneys cannot work for you on contingency of winning because there is no back pay awarded on appeal to continue benefits as there are when benefits are initially awarded. Attorneys must be paid out of savings.
So there are multiple levels of appeal but you have to either represent yourself at each level or pony up the $4000 or so for an attorney to help out with a simple appeal. On the good side of SSDI they now recognize PTSD as of 2017 as a disabling condition in its own right which means they are keeping modern about things.
Veterans who are 100% Permanent & Total have the lowest odds of having their disability rating reduced.
Actually not completely true. While you may be able to get some part time work, you are restricted to how many hours you can actually work. And the danger is that if you do work, then whats to stop the VA from saying that you CAN work and cutting your rating down.
And cut it they can. The ONLY time you are static and cannot have your rating cut is after you have been at 100% perm and total for 20 years. Then and only then can they not reduce your rating. I have been told this by my local Veterans office, the VFW-DAV-AmVets regional offices at the Cleveland and Indianapolis VA. And directly from the Cleveland and Indianapolis VA themselves. I am one of the Veterans who are 100% Permanent & Total due to major never damage and loss of use of my lower limbs, as well as PTSD and a few other injuries. I asked them this for laughs and giggles because I figured if McCain can be rated at 100% perm and total and still work as a Senator from Arizona and collect 180,000. a year, then I should be able to get a part time job as say, a greeter at walmart. And I was told absolutely not, that if I worked then my rating would be cut. Guess the VA has two different sets of rules, one for us lowly grunts and one for the songbirds like McCain who would spit in the face of a Veteran if he could (just look at his votes on Veterans issues, 99.9% of them were against us)
Odd isn’t how we are indoctrinated to believe some fairy tale we are individuals but in other ways treated or pigeon holed as the collective or we are all alike classifications like with pain pill use. If one can’t responsibly take them then no-one can, hence collective punishments, “we are all alike” cut everyone off of them. Only the privileged and pets can partake of such needful things.
I was selling some scrap metal/cans to help pay off my student loans, and did, more waste of monies. SS informed me I could not do that while being 100% for SSD prior to the VA stuff that amounted to the same thinking or requirements. It all equated to being able to work or working. But encountering those in my state and surrounding states that are working in factories and etc., without any problems. More stuff and contradictions I don’t understand at all. Not one bit.
We are required here to show ID to sell scrap metal… among other things. They can do this crap but can’t track down VA or union activist over death threats, retaliation, or identity politics? Damn odd.
That is like sitting around the VA and elsewhere listening to stories about how some people got Purple Heart awards, breaking an ankle, cracking their skull, while playing B-ball or being goofy in some area of conflict getting awards or allowed to get by with some fashion or kind of thefts/claims of valor. I can’t remember the Latin country specifics those on my mind now were in, San something and Africa. But just reported their commanders and community has taken very good care of them in and out of formal service. And how great it is to have those special license plates and bragging rights with made up stories they can laugh about. While many others are getting screwed or have been ignored, or waited until near death to get their awards for honest service or incidents. The ones I over-heard and talked to were working and one in a top management position at 100%. And one (other too I suppose) of course said he’d deny ever having the conversation.
First time I’ve heard of “Sheltered Employment In Protected Work Environment.” This may explain a lot of things I have talked to others about, and that stinking Voc Rehab or VSOs don’t care to share/didn’t or don’t give a damn about sharing. Or must be some of that information some serfs and pawns shouldn’t be made aware of that some others are using well. And isn’t for younger vets today. Doesn’t matter, too late for me I am out to pasture and die off. “Too old to rock and roll – too young to die” I reckon. This freaking world is one huge mess.
Gr8 write-up, Benjamin. I would only add that another ‘murky area’ is a Veteran that’s TDIU P&T can also concurrently receive, if qualified, SSDI without *any* offset, and once you turn 65/retirement age it automatically reverts to regular SSA Retirement at same $ amount already receiving based upon you being fully “vested”, meaning you have worked enough “Work Credits” to be fully “vested” to receive such benefits.
Same scenario, as I am an example of such above^^, if you have ANY outstanding college student loans that are current and **you have kept-up w/payments or deferments**, and you are a TDIU P&T Service Connected Disabled Veteran, you can obtain the forms from BVA to submit to Dept. of Ed. to have your ENTIRE student loans entirely forgiven…**BUT NOTE**…once you do this, Uncle Sugar no longer will allow you to take ANY Federal Ed. Loans out and it exhausts whatever G.I. Benefits you may or may not have left.
I spend almost every hour just trying to stay alive and afloat with certain health crapola and so I knew I would never be taking another Fed. Student Loan out again in this life and it took a HUGE burden of over $46K off my radar….BUT….the VA never, ever volunteered this information, it was over at another wonderful and informative website, ‘hadit dot com’, where I learned of this and when I called the VA about it at time, it was almost as if the person on other end acted as if the nonhuman lab rat found the motherload of cheese, and after much FAX’ing and waiting 6 months, all Fed. Ed. Loans forgiven….and my brain hurts after typing all this this a.m.
Again, you must be proactive, as Benjamin stated because these assholes act as if OUR BENEFITS are THEIRS, not OURS…thanks again Ben for this informative article on benefits…if ONLY the Big Pig VSO’s would be so informative!!
@namnibor I, too, discharged my federal student loans to the tune of over $100k. What I didn’t know at the time was that the entire amount would constitute earnings for that year. That means any money veterans make from employment, social security, or other gains associated with VA benefits is all added together with the amount of the discharged loans. This struck me as odd, because the whole purpose of discharging the loans related to 100% compensable service-connected disabilities that interfered with my ability to gain and/or maintain employment in the first place. The result of my loan discharge was that the IRS hit me with over $25k in owed taxes that year, because the loans made it seem as though I’d made over $100k and hadn’t paid taxes. Guess who didn’t have $25k laying around in order to pay the IRS and was placed into a different burden category after discharging the loans.
I think this is a crucial point to identify for anyone who is also considering the discharge of their loans. As you suggest, the burden of the loans will be off the radar. Also, the burden of a potentially huge tax penalty creeps in as an unwelcome blip on the same radar.
One thing I learned about Social Security is, they don’t have your military service in their records.
I learned about this a few years ago.
So, I took all my DD-214’s to the S/S office. They recalculated and my amount raised substantially!
If y’all haven’t done this, I suggest doing it.
Elf. Now there is just another head-scratcher. More than once I have been told they are two separate entities and not affecting SSD unless one makes too much money for one thing, like premium coverage, or then something for the other, or for certain levels of VA care.
SS was more concerned about how long I worked, doing what, and how much was paid into the system. How well I jumped through hoops, etc.
Right along with that is my taking another vet doing the bankruptcy thing to the SS office after requests from his attorney to get information for him from them. Was told the SS office does not waste time providing attorneys with income information and has no part in Veteran issues or providing statements for bankruptcies. Pointing to signs up they no-longer want ‘walk-ins requesting’ such information, to use the phone for inquires. I forget the exact wording so since then my running people up there ceased along with wasting my time/energies.
This stuff is as screwed up as trying to find out info about Voc Rehab and what we could get or not. One person gets this, another that. Civilians and cliques got the cream from the top. Part of the reasons why I think a full blown moratorium is needed town by town and by state to end all this confusing, hypocritical, lying BS.
Excellent job of addressing an extremely murky question. As one of the 225,000 or so, age 65+ year old in this category, my thoughts are why would you want to possibly give the DVA ANY opportunity to look back into your file?
If you are married, your spouse is eligible for CHAMPVA Health Insurance, you are eligible for a 10,000 life Insurance Policy and you both can get an ID Card for access to the commissary and the PX. In my state (Michigan), I am eligible to receive an exemption from Property Taxes.
These benefits are big dollars if you had to replace them. Any earned income would be lost should you attempt to replace them. If you’re drawing SS benefits there most likely will be some offset to those dollars as well.
The loss of spousal Health Insurance and the cost to duplicate that coverage, coupled with the other benefits that disappear should your rating be reviewed AND reduced should keep you away from the disaster that may befall you.
You might remember last June when SecVA Shulkin floated a reduction in TDIU for those of us currently eligible for SS (the 225,000)? Rather quickly he recanted that goofy idea.
He’s gone now but the winds of change are always blowing in the DVA.
If you’re an older veteran like me, almost 70, there are many places you can volunteer to help you with the “what am I going to do now,” syndrome.
For me, I couldn’t take the chance of leaving my wife uncovered for Health Insurance!
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