Military Disability Made Easy

Individual Unemployability (IU)

Individual Unemployability (IU) allows a veteran with a service-connected condition(s) rated less than 100% by the VA to be rated at the 100% level because the condition(s) makes the veteran unemployable.

Individual Unemployability is basically an exception to the rules of Total Ratings.

For purposes of Individual Unemployability, a veteran is “unemployable” if they are unable to maintain a regular, steady income. Anything that does not exceed the poverty threshold for one person established by the US Department of Commerce does not count as regular, steady income.

To qualify for Individual Unemployability, the veteran must provide full proof of their circumstances and have either

  • a single condition rated 60% or higher that makes the veteran entirely unable to work


  • a single condition rated 40% or higher with additional conditions that together with the first equal a total combined rating of 70% or more. Each of these conditions must contribute to making the veteran unable to work in order to count towards the 70% rating.

In order to claim Individual Unemployability, the veteran must submit the following proof:

  • VA disability records showing evidence of the conditions and ratings to be considered.
  • Any medical evidence from the past 12 months that supports that the conditions make the veteran unemployable.
  • Employment history records that show proof of the inability to get or keep a gainful job. These should be thorough enough for the VA to see that the effort has been made to find work, but the veteran has been unable to get a job or the veteran has been unable to keep a job because of their conditions. Details, like the number of hours able to work vs. not able to work because of the disability, etc., are beneficial.

There are rare circumstances where the VA might grant Individual Unemployability for conditions that do not meet these rating requirements, but full and complete proof must be shown that the conditions make the veteran entirely unemployable.

Individual Unemployability

Once a veteran is granted Individual Unemployability, they will be assigned a Total Rating and compensated at the 100% rating level.

To apply for Individual Unemployability, submit VA Form 21-8940. Make sure to include the proof of your conditions and employment history along with the form. After receiving this form, the VA is going to send VA Form 21-4192 to your current and previous employers. It is ultimately your responsibility to make sure this form is completed by your employers and returned to the VA, so make sure to follow up with them.

See our VASRD Principles discussion of Total Disability Ratings and Unemployability for additional information on Individual Unemployability.

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Individual Unemployability FAQs

What is Individual Unemployability?

Individual Unemployability (IU) allows a veteran to be rated 100% because their conditions make them unemployable, even though the conditions do not qualify for a 100% rating.

Am I eligible for Individual Unemployability?

There are very specific rating and employment requirements for IU. You can find them all on our Individual Unemployability page.

How do I apply for IU?

To apply for IU, you must submit VA Form 21-8940 and VA Form 21-4192 with full details of your conditions and how they've made you unemployable.

How long do I have to try to find a job before I'm considered Unemployable?

There isn't a set timeframe, but the VA does need to see that you have regularly tried and failed to get or keep employment. You will be required to give full employment details for the past 5 years when you apply.

Is IU permanent?

No. If your conditions improve enough to allow you to work, you will no longer qualify for IU.

How long does it take to receive my IU benefits?

You will receive your first payment within 1-2 months after your claim has been determined.

How much money will I receive for my Unemployability?

Unemployability allows you to be compensated at the 100% rate. You can find the current rates on our VA Disability Chart page.

Why do my past employers have to submit information?

The VA must have proof that your conditions make you unemployable, so first-hand testimony from employers is essential.

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