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Special Monthly Compensation: How To Qualify
Special Monthly Compensation: How to Qualify
What Is Special Monthly Compensation?
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is a term used to describe additional benefits that a Veteran can receive on top of their monthly disability payments. Because the VA recognizes that certain conditions require greater compensation, they may add additional benefits to the compensation that a Veteran’s disability rating warrants. Special compensation includes compensation based on:
- Loss or loss of use of a hand or foot: If you have had your hand or foot amputated due to a service-connected injury, you may be able to qualify for special compensation in addition to the benefits granted by your disability rating. Loss of use of these appendages can also lead to special compensation. If a service-connected injury has left you without the ability to use one of your hands or feet, you may not only qualify for a 100 percent disability rating, but special compensation as well.
- Loss of sight or hearing: Many service-connected injuries can lead to loss of a soldier’s eyesight or ability to hear. In addition, combat situations can also inherently pose a risk to a Veteran’s sight or hearing. Gunfire and other loud noises can cause a soldier’s hearing to be damaged over time, even causing complete loss of hearing. Likewise, exposure to toxic chemicals and other environmental factors can leave a soldier blinded. Service-connected loss of sight or hearing can qualify a Veteran for special monthly compensation.
- Loss or loss of use of a reproductive organ. One of the most common examples of this type of service-connected disability is erectile dysfunction. Many service-related factors can contribute to a Veteran’s development of ED or other reproductive issues. Exposure to toxic chemicals and other dangerous substances can also affect a soldier’s reproductive ability.
- Inability to communicate by speech: A Veteran may be left unable to speak due to an injury or a psychologically damaging experience. In some especially severe cases, trauma can leave a Veteran unable to communicate verbally. This level of disability can leave a Veteran unable to work, maintain relationships, and function in everyday life. This disability can qualify you for a 100 percent disability rating in some cases, but may also make you eligible for special monthly compensation.
- Loss of tissue from one or both breasts from mastectomy or radiation treatment can also be grounds for receiving special monthly compensation. If you have sustained a service-connected injury that caused tissue loss or have required radiation treatment for service-connected breast cancer, you can qualify for significant monthly disability compensation as well as special monthly compensation.
The VA will give more benefits for combinations of any of these disabilities (loss of sight and loss of a hand, for example). The amount received in these cases depends on the specific combinations of disabilities. If a veteran has other service-connected disabilities in addition to those described above, an even higher amount of VA Special Monthly Compensation may be considered. Through the combination of a high disability rating and special monthly compensation, a severely disabled Veteran can stay financially stable even when they are unable to work.
Special Monthly Compensation For Housebound Status
Special Monthly Compensation can also be granted for housebound status. If you are unable to leave your home because of your service-connected disabilities, you may be entitled to this benefit. You will need a letter from your doctor, from trusted friends, or from family members who can confirm to the VA that you are housebound.
The term “housebound” can also be used to describe a Veteran who is unable to leave a medical facility, rehab center, or their assisted living center. If you are actively getting medical care for service-connected disabilities and are unable to leave due to the severity of your condition, you can still qualify for housebound status.
To qualify for housebound SMC benefits, you must have at least one disability rated at 100 percent, either schedular or with TDIU (Total Disability Based On Individual Unemployability) with at least one additional unrelated disability rated at 60 percent or more. This combination of disabilities is enough to leave a Veteran completely unable to work, and often unable to move or take care of themselves without assistance.
If you are granted Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), it must be based on a single disability to qualify for special monthly compensation. If you’ve been granted IU, but haven’t been granted special monthly compensation based on housebound, we can help you request those benefits. One of Berry Law’s team of dedicated attorneys can help you qualify for the monthly compensation that you deserve, even if it means appealing a VA decision.
Remember, SMC is given instead of the standard VA disability rates except in special circumstances. The VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates Table defines exactly how much a veteran will receive for SMC. If you qualify for SMC, these benefits will also encompass your monthly disability compensation.
VA Special Monthly Compensation: Get Help from a Veteran
The VA should automatically grant you SMC if you qualify, but there are cases in which they overlook information and fail to give you the benefits you deserve. Our team of veterans’ law attorneys can help you claim those benefits. If you need to appeal a VA decision, it is always wise to recruit a skilled attorney to help you along the way. The VA appeals process can be complicated, and it is immensely helpful to have an expert attorney at your side to support you in court and help you compile the evidence that you need to support your claim.
The Berry Law team comprises many Veterans from a wide range of branches of the military. Our cumulative decades of legal and military experience make our attorneys the ideal supporters to have on your team when making an appeal. We’re a team of Veterans seeking to help our fellow Veterans, and we’ll do whatever it takes to help you make a strong case and get the benefits that you deserve.
If the VA has previously denied your claim to qualify for SMC, the best way to get a better outcome for your claim is to make an appeal. The VA appeals process begins at your regional Department of Veterans’ Affairs office. There, you and your attorney can make a case to the VA that you should qualify for special monthly compensation. During the appeals process, the VA will review their decision regarding your claim. They will also accept additional evidence from you that can support your case that you should qualify for SMC.
Evidence That Can Support Your SMC Claim
During the VA appeals process, you will have an opportunity to present evidence to the VA that can have an impact on the outcome of your claim. There are several forms of evidence that can play a role in changing the VA’s decision:
- Buddy statements. These testimonials from trusted friends and family members can help to verify your disability status. The soldiers that you served with can also provide statements that can have an impact on the outcome of your claim. If the VA concludes that there is a lack of sufficient evidence to support your claim, buddy statements can help to verify the legitimacy of your disability and get you a better outcome.
- An Independent Medical Examination (IME). A key part of every VA disability claim is an in-house Compensation & Pension (C&P) Examination. This examination is performed by a VA physician, and the results of the C&P exam can have a major influence on how the VA rates your disability status. The results of your C&P exam can also help the VA determine whether you should qualify for special monthly compensation.
If your C&P exam does not give the VA sufficient evidence to qualify you for special monthly compensation, you can present them with the results of an Independent Medical Exam (IME) instead. An IME is administered by a private physician rather than a VA-affiliated doctor. The results of an IME can serve as evidence that can support your claim.
- The presence of additional disabilities. If the VA has only recognized you as having one service-connected disability, you may be able to qualify for special monthly compensation if you can prove that you have additional service-connected disabilities. Sometimes, a Veteran suffers from a condition that they do not realize can qualify them for a higher disability rating. Make sure that you have informed the VA about any and all conditions that you suffer from – you may be eligible to receive higher benefits for additional service-connected disabilities. Some of the most commonly overlooked service-connected disabilities are gastrointestinal problems like IBS, mental health issues like anxiety and depression, adjustment disorder, and chronic conditions like arthritis.
If you are not receiving the benefits that you deserve from the VA and believe that you should qualify for special monthly compensation, we can help you make an appeal.
Please contact us for a free consultation.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.