Special Monthly Compensation: What Is SMC-S?
Once you have received your rating decision from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and see that you have been awarded service connection and a rating for your disability, you may think that your VA claim is finally over. And while that may be true, there is another type of VA benefit to which you may be entitled.
These are known as Special Monthly Compensation benefits, or SMC.
What is SMC?
SMC can increase the amount of VA disability benefits that a veteran is receiving in the form of a monthly payment. SMC benefits are meant to provide additional VA disability compensation for events such as the amputation or loss of use of the hand, foot, arm, or leg, and the impairment of the senses, such as total blindness or deafness.
SMC benefits cover situations when a 100% disability rating isn’t sufficient for a veterans needs. So, the special monthly compensation rates are higher than disability compensation at a 100% rating. VA special monthly compensation is designed to make up for a veteran’s inability to work, so veterans receive a higher level of compensation.
SMC is available for veterans who are housebound or who are in need of regular aid and attendance. Unlike the disability rating schedule, SMC is not meant to compensate a veteran for the effects that his or her disability has on earning potential, but rather for non-economic factors such as personal inconvenience, social inadaptability, or the profound nature of a disability.
There are different levels of SMC that the VA may award to former military service members. These include:
- SMC-K and Q: These are SMC rate payment variations.
- SMC-L through O: These SMC levels apply to specific conditions and situations. You can view these conditions here.
- SMC-R: This applies to veterans who need assistance from another person to fulfill their basic daily needs.
- SMC-S: This applies to veterans who are unable to leave their home due to their disability.
Depending on the level of SMC a veteran is entitled to, it could equal a significant increase in monthly compensation benefits (see the current rate table on the VA’s website).
We will be focusing on SMC-S in this blog post.
One type of SMC which is particularly advantageous to veterans is SMC(s). SMC(s) is available to veterans who:
- have a 100 percent rating and an additional disability rated at or combining to 60 percent or more, or
- who are substantially confined to his or her dwelling or immediate premises as a result of a service-connected disability.
The current SMC-S rate for veterans without dependents is $3,486.65 per month. This rate increases depending on the veteran’s marital status and other circumstances.
Housebound status is the main criteria that applies to SMC-S. Veterans who are housebound may live at home or in a care facility. Veterans who qualify for SMC-S may also be in a hospital ward. Typically, veterans who are housebound are unable to leave their dwelling due to their service-connected disability. This is typically a permanent circumstance.
Note that the VA has a tendency to misinterpret SMC to require housebound status under the first set of requirements, but that is an incorrect standard. Also, the 100 percent rating can be for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) instead of a schedular rating. But note, if a veteran wants to use a TDIU rating to get SMC(s), the 60 percent rating has to come from a disability that was not a basis for the grant of TDIU. For example, a veteran who is granted TDIU based on PTSD and is rated at 60 percent for a knee condition is entitled to SMC(s). But, if the TDIU were based on both the PTSD and the knee condition, the knee condition could not be used for entitlement to SMC(s). The veteran would either need to have an additional disability rated at 60 percent or more, or get a medical opinion that PTSD alone renders him unable to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment, without taking into account the veteran’s knee condition.
Remember that SMC is an inferred issue, meaning the VA is supposed to consider SMC at the time they are deciding the claim, but it is often overlooked. Therefore, it is important to know when you might be entitled to SMC so you can get all of the benefits you deserve.
Have Questions About SMC-S?
If you have a disabling condition and are a housebound veteran, you may be eligible for SMC-S. Your veterans service officer (VSO) is available to answer questions about your claim. The social security and veterans disability lawyers at Hill and Ponton are also here to help. If you were denied SMC but believe you’re eligible, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
We are sorry that this post was not as useful for you!
Help us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?