Veterans’ Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) rates for 2024 will increase by 3.2 percent in 2024 to align with the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This increase goes into effect on December 1, 2023, and the first payments will arrive on December 29, 2023.
SSA announced the 2024 cost-of-living adjustment on October 12, 2023. Under federal law, federal benefits, such as Supplement Security Income (SSI) and VA disability benefits payments, increase in step with the cost of living. The Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers measures the COLA yearly.
Here’s a closer look at your VA SMC rates for 2024 and how the increase will affect you:
Several categories of SMC affect the monthly payment rate.
SMC-K is the basic level of SMC. This SMC rate payment variation is added to your basic SMC disability compensation rate for any disability rating from 0 to 100 percent. The VA allows qualifying Veterans up to three SMC-K awards. To receive this award, a Veteran must have a specific disability, such as the anatomical loss or loss of use of one hand, one foot, both buttocks, one eye, or one or more organs used for reproduction.
The VA pays SMC levels that fall into this category at a flat rate. It awards them in place of a regular VA Disability rating.
The VA assigns Levels L through O for very specific situations and combinations of situations, such as:
SMC-R may apply if a Veteran needs daily help with basic needs, such as dressing, eating, and bathing
SMC-S may apply if a Veteran is permanently bedridden or cannot leave the house due to their service-connected disability, or if they have a single disability rated at 100 percent, and other disabilities with a combined rating of 60 percent.
SMC-T may apply if a Veteran suffers from a traumatic brain injury resulting in disabilities that require aid and assistance.
How will the 3.2 percent affect your Special Monthly Compensation?
For starters, you shouldn’t expect as big a boost as you got the last couple of years. The 2023 SMC rate increase, based on the COLA that year, was 8.7 percent — the most significant rate hike since 1981. The 2022 SMC rate increase was the previous all-time high at 5.9 percent. But 3.2 percent is still impressive, considering the COLA from 2021 and earlier was never higher than 2.8 percent in a single year.
To calculate your rate, you must first know your SMC level, then add 3.2 percent.
Here are the rates for a single Veteran with no dependents from 2023, the anticipated rates for 2024, and the monthly increase for each level:
|SMC Level||2023 VA SMC Amount||2024 VA SMC Amount||Monthly Increase|
Veterans may qualify for a higher SMC if they have dependents such as a spouse, parent, or child. This includes children under 18 or over 18 in a qualifying school program. Spouses who require daily assistance with personal needs may also receive additional compensation.
If you qualify for Special Monthly Compensation, you do not have to apply for it. The VA should automatically award it to you. If you believe you qualify for SMC but are not receiving the added benefit, call your regional VA office or speak with a lawyer.
A Veterans Disability Lawyer from Berry Law can help you if you believe you qualify for a higher disability rating or Special Monthly Compensation. Contact us today at 888-682-0751 or through our online form to discuss your case.
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