UNITED STATES—If you are a disabled veteran and collecting disability, you may wonder if you can do any work for pay. The answer to that question depends on the type of disability you are receiving.

Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability

You may be able to work even if you are receiving VA benefits for a disability as long as you are not collecting Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). If your veteran’s disability benefits do not include payment for this type of disability, you may work and still collect benefits. You may also work during the application and appeals process.

What Is TDIU?

TDIU is for veterans who are unable to work due to an injury or illness they suffered during their service. You can only qualify for TDIU if you are unable to sustain gainful employment that will financially support you and your family. Because it has been determined that you are too disabled to work, you may not be able to work at all.

You may apply for TDIU while you are still working, but it may be harder for your claim to be successful. VA will look at whether you are employable when they determine if you are eligible and, if you are working during the application process, they may believe you do not qualify for TDIU.

Marginal and Protected Employment

There are some exceptions to the TDIU work rule, however. The benefit is available if you cannot sustain substantial, gainful employment. If you have a job that is considered marginal, which means it is part-time and the earnings are below the federal poverty level, you may work and still collect benefits.

There are also positions that are considered protected employment. This would include a family-owned business or protected workshop. In protected employment, you may earn over the federal poverty level, but the work is not considered gainful employment.

Social Security Disability

Veterans may also qualify for Social Security benefits but the criteria for Social Security disability is different than VA disability. The law requires the Social Security Administration to review each case periodically to be sure you are still unable to work due to your disability.

Like VA benefits, you may be able to work at a job that is marginal. Under Social Security regulations, that means you cannot earn more than $1,260 per month or $2,110 per month if you are blind.

Ticket to Work

Social Security also offers a program known as Ticket to Work which includes cash benefits that continue while you work, continued Medicare or Medicaid benefits as well as assistance with training, education, and rehabilitation. It begins with a trial work period that allows you to try working for nine months, during which time you receive your full Social Security disability benefits.

This period continues until you have used nine cumulative trial periods in a 60-month time frame. After the trial work period, you have 36 months where you can still receive benefits if your work is not substantial. If you do earn more than $1,260 per month, your benefits will stop.

If your medical condition worsens and you must reduce your work hours or stop working, you can request that your benefits be reinstated without filing a new application. You must request reinstatement within five years of when your benefits stopped.

If you are a veteran who is disabled and would like to work, even if it is part-time, you need to talk to an attorney. George Sink makes it easier for vets to receive the compensation they deserve because he is a lawyer who is also a disabled veteran.