What Is Special Monthly Compensation?
Veterans with especially severe disabilities are eligible for additional benefits known as Special Monthly Compensation, or SMC. The VA recognizes that some service-connected conditions or combinations of conditions are so debilitating that they warrant a higher rate of compensation to offset the additional costs associated with care.
Broadly speaking, SMC applies in cases of loss of limbs, blindness, deafness, conditions that make it impossible to leave the house or that require daily Aid and Attendance, which could be caused by physical impairments or a psychiatric condition like PTSD. Veterans who are eligible should automatically receive SMC, there’s no extra form to submit. If you think you’re eligible and are not receiving SMC, don’t hesitate to call your VA regional office or talk to a VA-accredited claims agent here at the Rep for Vets.
How Does SMC Affect My Regular Disability Payment?
Typically the SMC payment will replace your regular disability payment. There is one exception known as SMC-K, a type of compensation that is added on to your regular disability payment.
SMC benefits are split into levels with different rates of compensation, which the VA refers to by letter codes from K to R. With the exception of S, the higher up you go in the alphabet the more severe the conditions and the higher the compensation rate. Here’s a breakdown of the benefit levels in order of lowest to highest severity.
- Level K is the lowest rate of SMC. It gets you an extra $110 a month on top of your regular disability payment, and is meant to compensate for the loss of use of extremities and other parts of the body, deafness, and partial blindness.
- Level S, the next level up from K, provides for veterans who can’t leave the house. Level S also provides for situations where a 100% disabling condition causes the veteran to be unemployable.
- Levels L through O list specific conditions and combinations of conditions in which the veteran is severely impaired, such as the loss of both legs up to the knee, Parkinson’s disease, or total blindness.
- Level R provides for veterans who require daily aid and attendance from a caretaker to perform everyday activities like bathing, getting dressed, preparing meals, adjusting an orthopedic or prosthetic device, or in the case of folks suffering from a psychiatric illness, simply navigating the ins and outs of life.
To put things in perspective, a current 100% disability rating for a single veteran with no dependents pays out about $3,000 a month. The payment for a condition categorized as SMC-L is $3,800 a month, while the payment for an SMC-R condition is $7,600.
Once you know which SMC level you qualify for, you can look up the amount you should be receiving with the VA’s Special Monthly Compensation Rates.
I’m Eligible for Multiple Levels of SMC. How Do the Payments Work?
If you qualify for multiple levels of SMC, they can be combined together to give you the next level of SMC. For example, you could be receiving SMC-L due to the loss of use of a hand or foot, and another SMC-L for Aid and Attendance for service-connected PTSD. Two L’s combine to give you an O, the highest possible payout in that grouping.
VA math can get complicated for multiple conditions. Earlier we said that SMC replaces your regular disability payment, with the exception of a Level K condition, which is an add-on. Well, you can add on to your SMC payment as well. A veteran receiving SMC for one of the conditions listed in levels L through N is entitled to additional compensation for any number of less severe disabilities – arthritis in the right hand, for example — that combine to a 50% rating or higher. (Note: the VA calculates combined ratings using this Combined Ratings Table rather than simply adding them together–that would be too easy!) These additional, less severe disabilities which would not qualify for SMC on their own are then added on to your SMC payment.
Get More Information About Special Monthly Compensation
Some veterans who believe they are eligible for SMC but are not receiving it consult lawyers for assistance. However, we believe that our disability claims agents are your best choice. Call 888-5-REPVET from anywhere in the United States for a free initial consultation, or simply use the online contact form to learn more about getting SMC.