Traumatic Brain Injury -Special Monthly Compensation
Matthew Hill: I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton on the Hill and Ponton VA video blog.
Matthew Hill: Today we want to talk to you about special monthly compensation in TBI, traumatic brain injuries. The VA has realized over these last several wars that the signature injury, if you will, has been traumatic brain injuries and that the veteran might not suffer physical harm, but they were next to a bomb exploded or had a bad fall and what happened, as far as injury, happened inside their head. Unfortunately, injuries to the brain cause problems all throughout the body. By recognizing that, the VA has said that not only if a veteran is so bad to where they’re 100% or unemployable because of the TBI, and they have the need for someone to help them through aid and attendance as the Veterans Benefits Administration would define, then they can get a significantly higher monthly payment. 100% is $3,000 we’ll say-
Carol Ponton: Around $3,000.
Matthew Hill: A month. Then if a veteran shows that they are entitled to the 100% or the unemployability due to the TBI and the aid and attendance, they actually jump up to what’s called special monthly compensation T. That’s the max rating you can get in VA, which 80-
Carol Ponton: It’s around $8,500 a month.
Matthew Hill: A month. As you see, it’s a huge difference, Carol. What do you see with cases like this?
Carol Ponton: Well, traumatic brain injury, TBI, is devastating. I have veterans who tell me I walk out the front door and if I didn’t have my dog with me and I went on a walk I couldn’t find my way home. This is something that often requires another person there a lot. The VA has finally realized this isn’t a small thing. I want everybody to know that if the two you have 100% from traumatic brain injury, TBI, then you need to file for aid and attendance, and you need to make sure that the VA knows all the problems that you have because of the aid and attendance. Remembering your medicine, remembering your doctor’s appointment, safety, sometimes they forget to turn the stove off. I mean there are a lot of things. If you live with somebody with TBI or if you have it, there are a lot of things that are going on that prevent you from living your life in a normal manner.
Matthew Hill: Right.
Carol Ponton: They’ve been trying with a lot of the veterans to show them how to use their phones so that the phone reminds them of appointments or reminds them to take their medicine, but that’s the degree of disability we’re talking about with a lot of people. If you have this, you need to file for aid and attendance. The VA is not going to tell you about this, and unfortunately most people don’t know about this who advise veterans. This is a real thing, and $8,500 can go a long way for your family to help with the problems that you have because of this.
Matthew Hill: Right. I mean $3,000 is nice, it’s tax-free, but if you need your spouse to stop working, or you need to bring in somebody else in the house to make sure you’re okay on a day to day basis, that is incredibly expensive. It’s really important that you receive the maximum benefits that you should, that the law says are entitled to you. It’s always confusing with the VA law because you figure if you got to 100%, well you’re getting 100%, but there are cases like these where you actually are entitled to much, much more. As Carol said, once you get to that 100%, as the veteran or the caretaker you say okay if there was nobody here with me today if I left my veteran today, would I think he’d be okay, could he do this on a day to day basis. If the answer’s no, then you’re not done fighting. You need to keep on fighting for the higher rating.
Carol Ponton: And remember the VA, this is a very complex area of law. It’s really complex. I’m telling you, most VSOs have never heard of it. Most lawyers don’t know how it works. So you need to file and you need to keep fighting. Most of the time you’re going to have to go to the Board of Veterans Appeals. That’s just the way it is, but you can win there. Okay. You just need to make sure that you have the evidence the way it should be so that the board can grant you these benefits.
Matthew Hill: Well thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to seeing again on this space soon.