Individual unemployability, IU for short, is a unique feature of the VA’s classification system that enables you to receive 100 percent of your benefits without meeting the stricter requirements of being rated at 100 percent disability for service-connected injuries.

The eligibility requirements for IU benefits include being a veteran who is unable to hold a job because of service-related injuries. Other key requirements include:

  • Unable to perform meaningful work. You must be unable to hold a meaningful full- or part-time job because of a service-related disability. The VA doesn’t consider doing odd jobs as meaningful employment.
  • Service disabilities. The service-related disabilities alone must disqualify you from getting work.
  • Disability levels. One disability rating must be 60 percent or higher. Multiple disabilities can be used to qualify, but one must be at least 40 percent or higher. The total of all disabilities must total 70 percent or higher.
  • Evidence requirements. You must furnish evidence that at least one of the disabilities is service-connected. You still must prove that one or more of the service-related disabilities prevent you from working.
  • Mental issues. Mental health issues, such as extreme PTSD, can be used as evidence to prove that you can’t hold a job.

How to Apply for Increased Compensation Based on IU

A mental health condition could easily make you unsuitable for any meaningful work, and common disabilities can prevent you from using your experience and skills to perform meaningful work.

There are many ways to apply for extra compensation based on unemployability:

  • Visit the How to Apply Page. You can get tips and tricks for applying for IU that will save you time and frustration. You might be required to fill out an employment questionnaire once a year as the price of continuing to receive your IU benefits.
  • Submit the VA Form 21-8940. You can print out a copy of the application and fill it out yourself or get someone to fill it out for you. You can download the form online on the Department of Veterans Affair’s website. Mail the filled-out application to The Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Intake Center P.O. Box 4444 Janesville, Wisconsin 53547-4444. You could also fax the application toll-free to 844-531-7818 in the United States or 248-524-4260 if living abroad.
  • Apply Online. You could apply online on the VA’s eBenefits website at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov.
  • Using a Professional to Guide. You could find a nearby VA representative to help you with the application process. Locate a qualified agent at https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.
  • Getting Help at a Local Office of the VA. You can visit any VA regional office and request the help of a staff member in filling out your application. 

All you need as proof of your service-related disability is your VA disability rating letter. If you no longer have a copy, just supply the relevant information. The decision-maker can easily look up the facts in service records.

Hire an Attorney

The task of proving unemployability within the rigid military structure is highly specialized, so you should contact individual unemployability lawyers in your area (more details in the link) to find someone with experience in dealing with veterans disability claim process and the VA. You might also need some legal help to file an appeal or otherwise challenge an unfavorable decision with a claim for (extra) benefits.


Crystal A. Davis

Crystal A. Davis was born into a family of attorneys and was raised with a strong sense of justice. During her high school years, she developed a passion for journalism and decided to combine this with...

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