SMC And Serious Disabilities Additional Available Compensation
It’s about getting the most out of SMC and serious disabilities. If you have a particularly serious service-related disability, you may be entitled to Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) under the VA’s complicated rating formula.
In most cases, SMC benefits are available as a replacement for disability benefits, and not as a supplement or alternative. Basically, as far as the VA is concerned, there are some conditions that are so severe that disability benefits alone could not adequately compensate the victim.
Theoretically, eligible Veterans need not ask for SMC benefits. The VA unilaterally awards them. However, as a practical matter, an attorney usually needs to bring the issue to the VA’s attention and help the Veteran prepare the best possible case for SMC compensation.
SMCt Benefits: A Primer
Special Monthly Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injury is probably the most common type of SMC benefit for Veterans of the Global War on Terror. Explosions, and specifically IED explosions, often cause brain injuries on three different levels:
- Trauma: It is not surprising that trauma injuries are one of the leading causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). For the most part, Kevlar helmets offer excellent protection against bullets and shrapnel, but only on certain parts of the head.
- Motion: The brain does not fit snugly against the skull as the head fits in a helmet. Instead, the skull is basically a water tank which suspends the brain in cerebrospinal fluid. When a person falls, the brain slams repeatedly against bone.
- Noise: Explosive blasts trigger shock waves that disrupt brain functions. So, even if a Veteran sustains no visible injury, the Veteran could have sustained a serious head injury.
Brain injuries are always permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate, no matter how much treatment the person receives or how much time passes.
Furthermore, brain injuries are degenerative. Initial symptoms, like unconsciousness and nausea, give way to more serious symptoms, like trouble sleeping and personality changes. TBIs may quickly become life-threatening.
Due to the nature of these injuries, TBI survivors need constant Aid and Attendance (A&A). If they do not receive such full-time care, they would probably require institutionalization. Generally, this A&A comes from an unlicensed caregiver, like a spouse or other family member.
SMC Benefit Levels
Let’s shift gears a bit and discuss the other kinds of SMC benefits available. Amputation or similar loss of a body part or function often qualifies for Level L through O SMC. The rating table uses half increments (L, L and a half, M, M and a half, and so on). If the Veteran has another disability, such as PTSD, at a 50% impairment, the SMC level goes up a half step. The SMC rating goes up a full step if the Veteran has a 100% disability impairment rating.
SMC S is the next step up. These benefits are available in the following situations:
- The Veteran is housebound (cannot leave the house or ward and the limitation is permanent) or
- The Veteran has a 100% service-connected disability and another disability rated at least 60%, even if the second condition is not service-related.
SMC R is a separate A&A benefit. To qualify, the Veteran must have a separate SMC disability and need help to do a majority of the following daily tasks:
- Bowel movement/urination, and
- Prosthetic/orthopedic adjustment.
These benefits may also be available if a Veteran is bedridden or a danger to themselves or others.
Reach Out to Diligent Attorneys
Severe disabilities fall outside the normal rating system and merit additional benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.