Generally speaking, a 100% disabled veteran may own a business and continue to collect VA benefits, but there are exceptions to this rule. If you receive 100% disability benefits because VA has deemed you unemployable, then you may not earn work-related income above the federal poverty level, including from your own business. But if your 100% rating is not based on unemployability, no limit exists on your outside income.
VA disability is notoriously complicated, and many veterans who receive it have an understandable fear of doing something that may cost them their benefits. If you receive VA disability and want to return to work or start your own business, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer first to make sure you are not putting your benefits in jeopardy. Disability Advantage Group offers a free consultation. You can speak with a member of our staff today by calling 865-566-0800.
Types of 100% VA Disability and How They Affect Your Ability to Work
When a veteran is classified as 100% disabled, it means they are receiving VA disability benefits at the 100% level. This level refers to their impairment rating. When VA awards disability benefits to a veteran, it assigns them a rating on a scale of 0% to 100%. The veteran’s rating determines how much disability compensation they are eligible to receive each month. Because 100% is the highest rating on the scale, it corresponds to the maximum compensation.
Most veterans who apply for benefits strive for a 100% rating because it results in the highest compensation. You can receive 100% disability in one of several ways:
You Receive an Impairment Rating of 100%
In order to determine your impairment rating, the VA reviews the medical evidence that you submit with your disability application. It compares this evidence to the rating criteria for your medical condition.
Every injury or illness eligible for benefits has a listing in the VA’s disability handbook. Under each listing is the criteria to get approved based on that condition. These criteria also explain the impairment ratings a veteran can receive for the condition based on the details of their diagnosis and lab tests.
Conditions for which the VA grants 100% disability have very strict requirements to receive that impairment rating. If you submit evidence making it clear you meet those requirements, you can receive 100% disability.
If you receive 100% disability based on your impairment rating, you are not bound by any income limits. You can own a business and earn as much money as you are able.
The VA Classifies You as Permanently and Totally Disabled
Permanent and total disability, or “P&T,” is a special classification given by the VA to veterans with severe medical conditions that are not likely to ever improve. A veteran classified as P&T receives an automatic 100% impairment rating.
The difference between getting 100% disability based on your impairment rating and being classified as P&T is that when you are classified as P&T, you are guaranteed 100% disability for as long as you live. Impairment ratings, by contrast, are subject to reevaluation by the VA at any time.
Once you receive a classification of P&T, the only way you can lose your 100% disability benefits is if the VA uncovers evidence that you obtained your P&T designation via fraudulent means.
A veteran classified as P&T may own a business, with no limitations on what they may earn.
VA Classifies You as Totally Disabled Based on Individual Unemployability
If your medical condition does not meet VA’s criteria for a 100% rating, there is another way to receive total disability. You can apply for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). With TDIU, you can receive disability at the 100% level even if your impairment rating is lower (although it must be at least 70%). The VA grants TDIU to veterans who can prove that their medical condition prevents them from sustaining meaningful, gainful employment.
Since TDIU is based on your inability to work, you are not allowed to earn a substantial income while receiving it. “Substantial,” as defined by the VA, means any amount of income above the federal poverty level. You can own a very small business that brings in a few dollars here and there. But if the VA catches wind that you are earning a meaningful income from your business, it will revoke your TDIU, and you will no longer receive 100% disability.
Call 865-566-0800 for a Free VA Disability Consultation With Disability Advantage Group
The VA disability lawyers at Disability Advantage Group want to help you make the most out of your benefits. Our passion is connecting disabled vets with the benefits they deserve. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning we do not get paid until you do. For a free consultation, call us today at 865-566-0800.