Once you have received your rating decision and see that you have been awarded service connection and a rating for your disability, you may think that your claim is finally over. And while that may be true, there is another type of VA benefits to which you may be entitled. These are known as Special Monthly Compensation benefits, or SMC. SMC benefits are meant to provide additional compensation for things such as anatomical loss or loss of use, such as loss of use of a hand or foot, or impairment of the senses, such as loss of vision or hearing. SMC is also 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.
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). One type of SMC which is particularly advantageous to veterans is SMC(s). SMC(s) is available to veterans who (1) have a 100 percent rating and an additional disability rated at or combining to 60 percent or more, or (2) who are substantially confined to his or her dwelling or immediate premises as a result of a service connected disability. 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.