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VA Benefits for Housebound Veterans

VA Benefits for Housebound Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits and compensation for Veterans who have a disability or illness from their time in the service.

There are many different forms that it can take, with specific benefits depending on the severity and longevity of the disability or illness.

Veterans need to know the benefits they are entitled to. Many Veterans do not learn about the benefits they can receive or do not realize they could be getting more than what they currently do.

Housebound Veterans can receive more than some other Veterans since their situation is different from others.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn what classifies a housebound Veteran
  • You’ll learn about the different pensions that the VA provides
  • You’ll know how to make a claim through the VA
  • You’ll learn about Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability
  • You’ll understand the appeal process

What Is a Housebound Veteran?

When a Veteran is considered housebound, it means that they cannot leave their home without difficulty. 

Because it is difficult for a Veteran to leave their home, it is rare that they will ever leave it.

There are several reasons why a Veteran might be housebound, but usually, it is because of an illness or disability. However, it could also be because of old age.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will use the term housebound to classify Veterans that receive increased in-home service or increased pensions. Veterans will receive what is known as a housebound special monthly compensation for a permanent disability that makes them unable to leave their house.

This benefit includes their regular monthly compensation, but it goes beyond that as well.

What Are the Different Pensions That the VA Provides?

There are many benefits that the VA provides Veterans throughout their life (and even for their surviving spouses). One of them is pensions that provide supplemental income.

The VA provides three types of pensions:

  1. A primary Veteran’s pension
  2. Aid & Attendance pension that includes money for long-term care
  3. Housebound pension which is an enhanced form for Veterans with a permanent disability and difficulty leaving their home

The interesting thing about the housebound pensions is that the permanent disability does not have to result from the Veteran’s military service. It can be a permanent disability that naturally arises from old age.

However, there are still certain criteria for this pension.

For the VA to consider a Veteran as housebound, the Veteran has to have a permanent disability. They also have to have a 100% disability rating.

The Department of Veterans Affairs can determine this by looking at medical records from a private doctor. Since the disability does not have to be service-connected, it is not required that the documentation comes from a VA medical doctor.

Knowing the qualifications for a housebound pension, you may be wondering what qualifies a Veteran as 100% disabled.

There are several factors that the VA takes into consideration:

  • Physical illnesses
  • Mental health concerns
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

The VA will consider any symptoms that are negatively affecting a Veteran’s health when they determine the rating.

How To Make a Claim Through the VA

In order for a Veteran to receive benefits and compensation, they will have to make a claim through the VA. This process is often complicated and requires a lot of attention to detail.

When a Veteran makes a claim through the VA, they must contact a knowledgeable attorney to assist them throughout the process. The reason is that the claim process can be overwhelming for a Veteran to take on.

Many Veterans are also unfamiliar with the legal and bureaucratic nature of the VA. Missing keywords or evidence in a claim can result in either denial or a lower rating, meaning that a Veteran will get fewer benefits.

Berry Law can assist Veterans in getting the benefits that they deserve effectively. Our team is made up of Veterans and military family members. Our experience and knowledge are extensive, allowing us to advocate for the Veterans we represent.

In order for a Veteran to make a claim through the VA, there are a few necessary components.

They will have to prove that their disability is service-related. If a Veteran does not provide the relevant evidence for this, the VA will deny the claim.

The Veteran will also have to show records that detail the current diagnosis of the disability and the medical nexus between the current diagnosis and in-service stressor.

Though the VA recognizes that housebound Veterans are not necessarily a result of their time in the service, certain criteria have to be shown in the Veteran’s record that they have a permanent and 100% disability rating.

Once the Veteran gathers all the necessary evidence to have the VA consider them housebound, they can put the claim through.

A 100% rating is the highest rating that a Veteran can receive. It allows them to get the maximum benefits. But as we mentioned earlier, if a Veteran is housebound, they can receive extra compensation in the form of a Special Monthly Compensation.

What Is Special Monthly Compensation?

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is an added compensation to what the Veteran is already receiving, which is determined by the VA’s rating.

Even if a Veteran has a 100% rating, which usually gives a Veteran the maximum amount of benefits, the VA will add an additional amount.

The purpose of an SMC is for mainly non-economic factors, not so much for the effect that a disability may cause a Veteran to earn a living.

There are different levels of SMC that a Veteran should be aware of:

  • SMC-S: This rating is for housebound Veterans.
  • SMC-K and Q: A payment adaptation of SMC.
  • SMC-L through O: This rating is an SMC that applies to specific conditions. The VA has a list of the particular requirements to assign SMC-L through O.
  • SMC-R: This rating is for housebound Veterans who require assistance from others to help with daily tasks.

The SMC is given instead of the standard VA ratings. The one exception is the K rating which is given in addition to the standard VA rating.

Like the standard VA rating, SMC has to be service-connected. There are several ways in which a Veteran can make a service connection.

First, they should search for any medical records that show that they were diagnosed with a disability during their time in the military. Combat, training, or duty could have caused a disability that would make it service-connected.

You can also show evidence that reveals how a situation aggravated a Veteran’s condition throughout the Veteran’s time in the military. This means that though the Veteran’s disability may not have been directly caused by their time in the service, it could have been worsened. This approach is a valid service connection that the VA recognizes.

SMC helps when 100% is not enough for Veteran compensation. The best thing to do is contact a knowledgeable attorney at Berry Law to have all of the necessary components to get SMC.

How To Appeal a VA Decision

Sadly, not all claims are immediately successful. The VA has had many claims that they have either denied or given a lesser rating for.

Know that as a Veteran, you can appeal any decision that the VA makes. 

It is important that once a Veteran knows the decision of the VA, they act on it immediately if they want to appeal it.

The appeal process can frequently take longer than the initial claims process. It also has the reputation of being even more complicated.

There are many reasons why the VA will deny claims or give a lower rating. It usually has to do with the fact that they did not have all the evidence they needed or did not find the evidence convincing.

In these circumstances, an experienced attorney at Berry Law will be able to help guide a Veteran through the process and gather the necessary information so that they can appeal. Our goal is to get Veterans the benefits they deserve, even if it means appealing the VA’s decision.

Conclusion

Housebound Veterans are a unique classification within the VA. The VA will give housebound Veterans greater compensation since they cannot leave their home, and there are different requirements for them when they make a claim. 

In any circumstance, housebound Veterans need to know that they can receive additional compensation. Sometimes a 100% rating and the benefits of it are not enough. Further compensation, such as SMC, helps alleviate some of the financial stress.

For more information on Veteran claims and appeals, visit our website.

Sources:

What Does Homebound / Housebound Mean & Why it Matters? | Paying for Senior Care

VA Aid & Attendance Pension: 2022 Benefits & Eligibility Criteria | Medical Planning Assistance

2022 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates | Veterans Affairs

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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