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VA Individual Unemployability (Veterans Who Can't Work Due to a Disability)

If you can’t work because of a disability related to your service in the military (a service-connected disability), you may qualify for what’s called “individual unemployability.” This means you may be able to get disability compensation or benefits at the same level as a Veteran who has a 100% disability rating.

Can I get disability benefits from VA?

You may be able to get disability benefits if you meet both of the requirements listed below.

Both of these must be true:

  • You have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or 2 or more service-connected disabilities—with at least 1 rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more—and
  • You can’t hold down a steady job that supports you financially (known as substantially gainful employment) because of your service-connected disability. Odd jobs (marginal employment), don’t count.

Note: In certain cases—for example, if you need to be in the hospital often—you may qualify at a lower disability rating.


Who’s covered?

Veterans

What kind of benefits can I get?

  • Health care
  • Compensation (payments)

How do I get these benefits?

You’ll need to file a claim for disability compensation. When you file, you’ll have to provide evidence (supporting documents like a doctor’s report or medical test results) showing that your disability prevents you from holding down a steady job. We’ll also review your work and education history.
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation.

Example: A Veteran has a service-connected heart condition and a 60% disability rating. She was still able to work until last year when she began to get chest pain when doing anything physical, like walking or lifting boxes. Her doctor told her to retire as soon as possible. She filed a claim for more disability compensation. We reviewed her work and education history and agreed that she was individually unemployable because of her service-connected disability. So we increased her disability compensation to the same rate as a 100% disabled Veteran.