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Individual Unemployability if you can’t work

If you can’t work because of a disability related to your service in the military, you may qualify for 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. Keep reading to find out if you may be eligible.

Am I eligible for this benefit from VA?

You may be eligible for Individual Unemployability if you meet the requirements listed here.

This must be true: 

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.

And one of these must be true:

  • You have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or 
  • You have 2 or more service-connected disabilities, with at least 1 rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more

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

If I’m eligible for Individual Unemployability, will my disability rating change?

No. If you’re eligible for Individual Unemployability, the amount of your monthly compensation payment will change, but your disability rating will stay the same.

What’s an example of Individual Unemployability?

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.

How do I get these benefits?

You’ll need to submit both of the forms listed here. 


Note: You must have a service-connected disability to get a clothing allowance. If you haven’t filed a claim for disability compensation yet, you’ll need to do that first. 

Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation

What evidence do I need to submit?

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.

What if I have questions about these benefits?

You can call us at 800-827-1000. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.