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Max Income


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I am currently at 50% combined and am seeking an increase. What is the maximum amount you can earn a year if you reach 100%? Can someone tell me what VA policy or code this is under. I am interested to know if "earned" income is the key or any income. I receive a non-taxable disablity retirement from a former employer. This money is reportable on my taxes but does not get counted as taxable income. Any help on this matter would be great.

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Earned income does not come into play with VA disability UNLESS;

(1) you apply for and receive a 100 percent disability based upon unemployability cause this rating provides that you are not employable.

(1) Also a 100 percent based upon a mental rating will not allow you to work.

in ALL OTHER CASES you can make a million dollars a year and still draw your VA disability.

Edited by Ricky
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  • HadIt.com Elder

I wonder how many 100% schedular vets actually work full time? The VA does not award 100% rating for people who don't have serious health problems.

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Guest terrysturgis

I am 100% P&T being paid TDIU. My schedular is 94.5%. The VA just reviewed my earned income which is the same now as it was when I was awarded TDIU. It is below poverty guidelines, about $8,700.00 per year.

My decision letter came Friday is as follows: We determined that the following service connected condition has not changed, Entitlement to individual unemployability is confirmed and continued. VA form 21-4140, Employment Questionnaire indicates that you continue to work at a wage that is considered less than substantially gainful employment. Based on the evidence of record it does not warrant a change in our previous decision.

Folks if you are TDIU they will check on you every five years as they just did me. It's sorta like living on the edge. My problem is SSD has been taking over a year and a half and no decision yet so the little extra income helps my family survive. As many on this board have suggested, it is best not to have earned income when going for TDIU but as I have proven if you are drawing earned income less than poverty guidelines it is possible to win a TDIU claim. Terry Sturgis

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My husband is 100% schedular P & T, has been working full-time for a few years, but is now down to part-time, and will probably use up his remaining FMLA in the next couple of months, due to his service-connected condition. He's got a lengthy list of rated disabilities, plus several on top of that at 0%. Considered in the aggregate, it makes sense to rate him at 100% schedular. He went through a lot of hell while he was in the service health-wise, some of it as a result of what we would argue is medical malpractice; now he's living with the residual effects of what happened back then.

I think a lot of it depends on what they do for a living, how demanding the job is physicially and mentally, and if they have any flexibility regarding how many hours are really put in.

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I wonder how many 100% schedular vets actually work full time? The VA does not award 100% rating for people who don't have serious health problems.

I would think a lot of amputees are 100%, yet still work in good jobs. These days, one can lose both legs and lead a fairly normal life.....you even see them competing in sporting events.

It's a completely unfair double standard imho and that isn't to take anything away from those who have lost limbs, but if they are being compensated for quality of life changes then so should those with mental issues that typically suffer far greater in that department.

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Terry,

Yes, working marginally will not harm your chances of GETTING TDIU...as I have been stating for some time now but still get flack from most vets (even the "experts") saying that you can't be working AT ALL to get TDIU...but they're just wrong. I also was a "working" vet when I applied.

Most vets, however, who DO get TDIU are then afraid to work AT ALL because the general concensus on various vet forums is that if the VA finds out -- or you tell them because you want to be forthcoming about it -- you will be reevaluated and possibly lose your 100%/TDIU status.

Your case shows (at least in YOUR particular case that is) that you can make "all that money" while applying for TDIU and as well, even after getting TDIU, you CAN work and make $725/month and still be "safe" re: keeping your 100%/TDIU status.

This is good news for TDIU vets who are afraid to work AT ALL for fear of Big Brother VA...unless once again, 100%/TDIU "mental" vets are not included/expected/allowed to work even though marginally.

-- John D.

Edited by cloudcroft
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That is true ONLY for physically disabled vets and many vets who frequent these forums (and others) are PTSD vets. The VA bases one's level of mental disability almost solely on their ability to hold ANY employment...heck, the 100% level even states that one must be "totally occupationally disabled". So, you need to delineate between the two when making such a claim.

Of course, this isn't to say that it's impossible to hold a job (making under $700/month) and still maintain TDIU for PTSD, but I wouldn't want to be the one who tries it, because you'll likely spend five years trying to get your TDIU back!

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Technically though, a vet with 60% or 70% mental disorder is not really 100%, i.e., a mental basket case for lack of a better term, or the VA should just make us 100% schedular and be done with it. As it is now we are rated less than 100 even though being paid at 100.

Sort of a Catch-22 for us "mentals" if you will.

And I don't know about PTSD, but I suspect that a number of "mental" vets rated lower than 100% are working even if not gainfully. And I'd say that a vet rated with Dsythymia, for example, at 60% or 70% COULD work marginally at least and lots of those vets may be doing so to supplement their otherwise TDIU-only income (which prevents these vets from living in areas of this country which have a high COL factor, such as Northern VA or anywhere near Washington DC due to outrageously high apartment rental/home costs, etc.).

I think most of don't want to risk being reduced so we do not try to work even if only marginally, even though apparently the VA regs allow it...and even though those of us not on SS and/or military retired pay (because we're Chapter 61 vets) like lots of other TDIU vets are, sure could find use for an extra $800/month (or whatever the exact amount is under the allowable threshold).

-- John D.

P.S. Where is the VA reg that excudes a 100% vet rated TDIU mental from working as opposed to a vet rated 100% physical? Or is this just logic working and not any reg? If it's just logic, then a 100% mental vet is NOT legally precluded from working if the regs do not actually prohibit it.

At the very least then, I suppose that more TDIU "mental" vets schedularly rated at less than 100% shouldn't fear working marginally...and making that $800/month.

Edited by cloudcroft
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As I said, "it may not be impossible" given the regs regarding this issue, but I think it would be highly likely that the VA would at least attempt to reduce ANY TDIU PTSD vet who attempted to work, even if it was marginal work. Heck, I'm willing to bet the VA would try to reduce a PTSD vet if they were caught volunteering somewhere.....it would likely be overturned at the BVA, but who pays the bills for that 5 year battle?

They tried reducing my wife from 100% P&T with A&A to 50% because of a letter from a PCM (NP) that said ONLY, "the patient seems capable of handling her finances and her PTSD does not seem to affect her ability to manage money"....this was their sole reason for reducing her to 50%. The VA will jump at any and all chances to drop a PTSD vet due to the subjective nature of the dieases and the high threshold for a 70%+ rating.

It's a free country and you're welcome to try to work with TDIU PTSD, but don't come crying to me when they bust you down to 50% because of it:-) (by "you" I don't mean you personally btw)

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But if you contest any attempt at a decrease, isn't the VA then unable to reduce you -- i.e., they must keep you (rating and $$-wise) at where you are -- until the issues is taken to court (or whatever) and the issue it decided?

Reducing you on such flimsy "hearsay evidence" surely seems wrong and is probably illegal, even by VA standards.

-- John D.

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How can anything be illegal by VA standards? Who gets charged if they take an action that defies the regs? Heck, they don't even get repremanded for it; if anything, they are probably rewarded for keeping claims down.

The RO uses the BVA to weed out people who are either A) About to die, or B) not willing to fight for 5 years. I bet the RO's around the country have saved billions that way......and who's going to stop them, themselves?

Edited by Jay Johnson
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  • HadIt.com Elder

If the VA reduces you the remedy is that you get your compensation back to the day they reduced it if you prevail. That is the only remedy. No one at the VA gets in trouble. There is no penalty. You don't get interest on the money. This is why I say not to disturb them or get them looking at you. They can do whatever they want and all you can do is appeal it. You win in the end but by then you have lost your house and are bankrupt.

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I think we need someome who has worked or is working as a VA rater or DRO -- like Vike17 -- to spell-out just what the regs are about this and what the VA can and can not do. And what the vet's rights are.

-- John D.

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