Can You Get Over 100% VA Disability Ratings?
When making a claim for disability compensation through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, former military service members typically receive a percent rating between 10 and 100%. This is either a rating for one disability or a combined rating for multiple. A 100 percent disability rating means that an unemployable veteran is receiving the highest amount of disability benefits possible for his or her injury, physical illness, or mental health condition. Some veterans who cannot hold gainful employment may also be eligible for total disability on the basis of individual unemployability (TDIU). You can read more about the VA’s rating process on the combined ratings table.
However, there are some cases when a veteran has eligibility for a total disability rating that’s higher than 100%. This is called special monthly compensation. Here, we will break down how these special compensation rates work and how you can obtain them.
Special Monthly Compensation
Basic VA disability compensation is designed to compensate the veteran for reduced earning capacity with the maximum compensation for a single veteran without dependents being $2769 per month for a veteran who is rated 100% disabled. While this amount is certainly helpful to a disabled veteran, we are often approached by veterans for whom this amount falls short of providing the care they need. In addition, some disabilities affect more than a veteran’s ability to earn a monthly and annual income. Recognizing these shortcomings in the compensation system, the VA regulations do provide for compensation above and beyond 100% in specific circumstances. This type of compensation is called special monthly compensation and is often referred to as SMC.
SMC’s are not based on a disability’s effects on earning but, rather, are designed to compensate a veteran for non-economic factors such as personal inconvenience, social in-adaptability, or the profound nature of a disability. For instance, SMC’s may be available to veterans with disabilities which involve the loss of a limb, loss of vision, loss of hearing, or erectile dysfunction. It is important to note that while loss of a limb qualifies for SMC, a veteran may also qualify for SMC for loss of use of a limb. For instance, if a veteran cannot balance or step off of his foot due to a disabling condition, he may have lost the use of that foot so as to qualify for an SMC. Similarly, if a veteran cannot pick up objects with his hand or write with a pen, he may qualify for an SMC for loss of use of that hand. Keep in mind that veterans will need to obtain medical evidence to prove the SMC case.
SMC’s are identified by letters ranging from (k) to (s), and while the SMC(k) ratings provide only an additional $99 per month, some of these SMC’s provide substantial support above and beyond the amount awarded for a 100% disability.
VA Disability Benefits for Aid & Attendance
One SMC that we are commonly asked about is entitlement to aid and attendance. This SMC is available for veterans who, due to their service connected injuries and medical conditions, need assistance in tending to their daily needs. Depending on the level of care the veteran needs, this SMC can provide anywhere from an additional $677 per month to an additional $5156 per month. This is, then, a significant benefit to the veteran and his family members.
What does it mean to need aid and attendance? If the veteran regularly needs someone to help him with dressing and undressing, bathing, taking care of personal hygiene, or making sure that he does not injure himself, he may qualify for this SMC. It is important to note that the person providing this care does not necessarily have to be a healthcare professional. Even if this care is provided by a family member or neighbor, the veteran may still qualify for aid and attendance benefits. Where the care of a medical professional is required, the veteran may qualify for special aid and attendance benefits which provide increased compensation.
The VA is supposed to consider whether a veteran is entitled to SMC benefits whenever the evidence in his claims file indicates that he is entitled, even if he has never formally requested such benefits. Sometimes, however, this can be overlooked. You know your disabilities and your limitations better than anyone else, so it is important that you be aware of what may be available to you so that you can make the VA aware of the benefits to which you are entitled. If you earned service connection, and the VA approved you for benefits, you may be eligible for more compensation based on the nature of your impairments.
Have Questions About SMC?
If you believe that you’re eligible for special monthly compensation, yet the VA overlooked your eligibility on your disability claim, contact the team at Hill & Ponton. Out veterans disability attorneys are versed in the VA claims process, helping eligible veterans and their families obtain the highest amount of compensation possible. We can help you obtain the medical records and other evidence you need to receive additional disability compensation. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation, where we will evaluate your case.
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