Many veterans return from military duty with service-related injuries or conditions that affect their day-to-day lives. Their ability to work and support themselves and their families can also be impacted. Unfortunately, any veteran who has interacted with the VA knows how challenging it can be to get a total disability individual unemployability (TDIU) claim approved.
In most TDIU claims, the VA relies on its own doctors to assess the severity of a veteran’s disability and whether they are able to gain employment. However, an experienced vocational expert can often provide much more useful information about the veteran’s condition and employability. In this article, we discuss how a professional vocational expert can help a veteran and their disability attorney successfully pursue a TDIU claim.
What is TDIU?
A veteran who suffered a service-related injury or condition may qualify for disability benefits under a classification known as Total Disability Individual Unemployability. There are approximately four million veterans receiving compensation benefits due to a service-connected disability, defined as a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. TDIU enables veterans to receive benefits at the 100% rate if their service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining and maintaining gainful employment. TDIU can provide 100% disability ratings even if the veteran’s rating does not total 100%.
Unfortunately, even though they may be severely disabled and unable to work, the VA’s complex rules and regulations make it difficult for a deserving veteran to receive a 100% disability rating and qualify for TDIU. In these cases, a knowledgeable vocational expert can make all the difference.
What Does a Vocation Expert Do?
A vocational expert (VE) is an authority in vocational training and rehabilitation. They are adept at determining the education, training, and skills necessary to perform various jobs. VE’s have advanced degrees and certifications in numerous vocational-related fields.
A skilled VE understands current industrial and occupational trends and the economy’s impact on labor markets. They can provide evidence regarding a veteran’s capacity to either return to their former position or gain employment in a different field. A VE can also assess the impact of the disability on an applicant’s income and earning capacity.
Because a vocational expert is well-versed in how the VA determines a claimant’s disability, they can play a significant role in a TDIU claim.
How a Vocational Expert Can Assist in a TDIU Claim
Many veterans and their attorneys are using vocational experts to assist them in evaluating TDIU claims. In a typical claim, a veteran establishes that they cannot return to their former employment due to a service-connected disability. The question is then whether the veteran has physical and mental capacity, education, skills, training, and work experience to obtain a different job.
When assessing TDIU claims, the VA often relies on their physicians to determine a claimant’s employability. However, while a VA physician may be qualified to discuss a veteran’s medical history, they lack experience and expertise in the vocational field. They typically focus on whether the claimant’s physical or emotional limitations prevent them from working. In doing so, there may be many factors the VA doctors do not consider before giving their opinion, including the claimant’s age, prior illnesses or injuries, and any other circumstances that might impact their ability to return to work.
When you and your attorney work with an OAS vocational expert, they will take the time to get to know you and the specific facts of your case. The expert will follow up on any incomplete or missing information to fully understand your situation before offering their opinion to you, your attorney, or the judge. They also consider other impacts the disability may have on your employability. For example, a vocational expert can assess the effects of pain and associated pain medication on your ability to focus, follow instructions, and complete tasks on time.
A qualified VE can also factor in your ability to communicate with employers and coworkers, adaptability in stressful situations, and whether you would need special accommodations to perform your job correctly. OAS experts will then use the information they gain to provide a realistic view of your employability, notwithstanding your service-connected illness or injury. For these reasons, an OAS vocational expert is often more qualified to render a reasoned opinion on whether you can return to work or if your case warrants maximum disability benefits.
The Process of Evaluating a Veteran’s Employability
To assess a veteran’s employment capacity, a vocational expert evaluates opportunities in the current labor market while considering the veteran’s unique circumstances. The VE’s evaluation generally consists of four parts:
1. Review of relevant documents, including medical, service, and employment records
2. An in-person or telephonic diagnostic vocational interview with the claimant
3. Vocational aptitude testing to determine the claimant’s unique skills
4. Preparation of a comprehensive report including a final opinion on employability
The evaluation focuses specifically on the claimant’s past relevant work and local labor market research. Additionally, the vocational expert’s final report generally includes an analysis of whether the veteran has skills that would transfer to another employment field.
OAS’s vocational experts have been successful in helping many injured veterans receive the benefits they earned while serving our country. If you are an injured veteran, OAS can assist you in getting total disability individual unemployability a 100% veteran service-connected disability.
The Experts at OAS Can Help Injured Veterans and Their Attorneys
Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) is one of the top companies providing vocational experts. We have been involved in landmark cases using vocational experts in New York and New Jersey.
We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of vocational expert services.
OAS is your vocational expert nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.
OAS is one of the top companies providing Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services throughout the country. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.