What qualifies as “substantially gainful employment” with regard to Individual Unemployability, and how is it different from marginal employment?

Individual Unemployability (IU) is a type of disability compensation offered by the VA. IU pays out disability benefits at the total, or 100%, disability rate even though the veteran's service-connected disabilities have been rated at a lower level. The option provides a safety net for veterans who find themselves unable to work in spite of not receiving a total disability rating.


In order to qualify for IU compensation in Texas, the veteran must be unable to maintain “substantially gainful employment” because of his service-connected disabilities.


Substantially gainful employment describes employment where a non-disabled individual is able to earn an income level appropriate for that occupation in the community where the veteran lives. This would be a job providing the veteran with full-time employment at a liveable wage.


For VA purposes, marginal employment is not viewed as substantially gainful. Marginal employment describes employment where the veteran's earned income is not more than the poverty level established by the U.S. Census Bureau for the community where the veteran lives.


If you are a veteran and you think you may qualify for IU disability compensation from the VA –or if you have any questions about the VA disability benefits application and appeals process –consider reviewing your case with an experienced Dallas veterans' disability attorney as soon as possible. Speak to a member of our team by calling 800-800-6353, or fill out the quick, secure contact form below for more information.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law