Matthew Hill: Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton.
Matthew Hill: Today we’d like to talk to you about special monthly compensation. Only in the VA world is there more than 100% percent. A lot of our veterans are fighting to get 100% disability compensation, but that’s not where it ends in VA. It seems like it never ends, even when you thought you got what you want. Special monthly compensation is incredibly complex. There’s many, many levels. It goes from the bottom level, SMC-S, all the way up to-
Carol Ponton: R2.
Matthew Hill: SMC-R2 or SMC-T if it’s a traumatic brain injury. We’d like to talk about the levels that we see the most common, and that’s SMC-S and SMC-L. I guess I should start with this. There’s most, almost every one of these, you have to already have 100% to get these levels. You can’t ask for SMC-L, which is aid and attendance, if you’re only at 30%. There is one though called SMC-K that is for loss of use of an organ. That pays about $100-
Carol Ponton: $130.
Matthew Hill: $130 now. That is just-
Carol Ponton: A month.
Matthew Hill: Yeah, monthly. That is if any organ, any body part is lost. Frankly, if you have multiple ones, then you can get multiple ratings on that. That is not dependent on the amount you’re getting paid already. One of the big ones is for ED for men. There’s no real rating for ED itself, but you do get loss of use with erectile dysfunction. SMC-K, loss of use of an organ, is separate from what we are going to talk about.
Carol Ponton: SMC-S, they can be, like the SMC-K is $130 some a month. The SMC-L is $500 a month. We’re talking about different amounts of money.
Matthew Hill: Increments, yeah.
Carol Ponton: One of the ones that I see that-
Matthew Hill: I’m sorry. The SMC-L is on top of the 100%. Instead of getting $3,000 for 100%, you would get $3,500. It’s just increments like that going up.
Carol Ponton: Right, of tax-free money.
Matthew Hill: Yeah.
Carol Ponton: One of the ones that we see people not knowing they can file for is aid and attendance. Aid and attendance is if you need someone to help you do the basic things of life. Now it doesn’t have to be all of these things, but they’re things like what if you have peripheral neuropathy and you cannot button or zip, you have difficulty picking up things, so you need somebody to help you. You can’t cut your meat. Maybe you have difficulty getting in and out of the shower. You have to have someone help you get out because you fall. Your feet are numb and so you can’t balance. If you can’t walk very far, that’s a person that needs some help. If you can’t remember to take your medicine, can’t drive yourself to the doctor, maybe you forget your doctor’s appointment. Those are all things that might help you get aid and attendance. If you have any of those problems, and I always suggest ask your spouse.
Matthew Hill: Right.
Carol Ponton: Because they’re the ones that know what they do for you. Then if they say yes I have to make your meals, I have to remind you about your doctor’s appointments, then you should file for aid and attendance.
Matthew Hill: Now Carol, it’s important to note that aid and attendance is different and separate altogether from a caretaker.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: With the caretaker, that’s actually set up through the Veterans Health Administration, basically the medical centers you see, and that’s a different determination than what we’re talking about.
Carol Ponton: And you can get both.
Matthew Hill: You can get both. But with this, we’re talking about, we’re showing through the disability you have, we’re showing to the VA Benefits Administration, the regional office or the BBA that you can’t basically, you’re either a danger to yourself, or you can’t sustain day to day life without the help of another.
Carol Ponton: And you want to show as much as you can that this need for help is related to service-connected problems.
Matthew Hill: Right.
Carol Ponton: That’s the key. A lot of times people are embarrassed about what they need for help, but this is the time to let the VA know. Now one thing I always tell my clients is on this form for aid and attendance, and you can download it online, there is one question that I always want you to be careful of it. That is is this veteran competent. You do not want to be found incompetent. The thing that they’re looking for in this competency is solely: do you know what your monthly benefits are coming in, your income, and what your bills are in, and are you involved in how it’s paid? That doesn’t mean you paid the bills. It just means I know how much money I have and I am involved with, either myself if I’m the only one or my spouse, on how this money should be paid. That’s one thing you need to be very careful because you don’t want to be found incompetent.
Matthew Hill: Well, what that’ll do is it’s like what you were trying to do is show you need aid and attendance, and then the VA just takes your case on a hard left and says oh we’re gonna have a fiduciary determination, basically to determine if an outside party should be handling all your funds and should be telling you what you should spend it on. If you don’t have a problem with money, that’s not something you want to get into.
Carol Ponton: Exactly. That’s just a caveat, just something to watch out for, but don’t … I have clients who don’t file for aid and attendance because they’ve heard that this can happen to somebody. It’s not going to happen if you’re very clear that this is not a problem for me and your spouse is very clear about that. If for some reason, I have clients that are said we’re going to find you incompetent, the way you have that now happen is you send showing my credit is fine, you have a statement from your spouse that I handle my funds or your children, and you get a doctor saying I’ve treated this client, he’s totally competent. Just because that comes up doesn’t mean you can’t fight that as well.
Matthew Hill: Right. Well, this is kind of just a primer on special monthly compensation. Areas we didn’t talk about are, Carol alluded to this, but if you have loss of use of arms or legs, or actually patients, then the ratings for those get significantly higher. We’re talking about something that’s about $3,500 a month that can actually go up to-
Carol Ponton: $8,500 a month.
Matthew Hill: $8,500.
Carol Ponton: Your unemployability plus that. Now that’s a person-
Matthew Hill: That’s pretty rare.
Carol Ponton: But they’re out there. We want you to know that.
Matthew Hill: Well thank you so much for joining us, and we look forward to you tuning in next time.