Special Monthly Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injuries
The 2010 Veterans Benefit Act authorized Special Monthly Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injuries (SMCt). These changes may affect many former service members who struggle with various forms of TBIs. In June 2018, the Veterans Administration finally issued a rule implementing that Congressional directive. SMCt is one of the newest programs available.
As outlined below, Congress ordered these changes, at least in part, because of the large number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who sustained TBIs during their tours of duty in Southwest Asia. As of January 2019, the SMCt rate is $8,510.79, which is the highest SMC rating.
SMC is available in lieu of disability benefits. So, even if you were denied disability, you may be still be eligible for significant compensation.
About Combat-Related Brain Injuries
Many doctors refer to TBIs as the “signature injury” of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. The influx of victims has given researchers an opportunity to study combat-related TBIs much more closely. As a result, a number of treatments that were unavailable just a few years ago, are now possible.
A brain injury is a physical injury, just like a gunshot wound or a broken bone. Many Southwest Asia veterans sustain TBIs because these conflicts involve the two most common TBI causes:
- Trauma Injuries: When a gunshot wound, explosive blast, or even an unintentional fall knocks over a victim, the brain slams against the skull. Because the skull is so thick, there may be little or no visible bleeding or swelling. Nonetheless, a TBI is not a “processing disorder” or some other amorphous neurological problem.
- Sudden Loud Noises: Sometimes, even if an explosive blast does not knock the victim over, that person could still sustain a TBI. Explosive blasts cause biological electromagnetic pulses which disrupt brain functions.
As mentioned, these injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat, but not just because of the lack of physical symptoms. The brain can hide its own injury very well. That is why concussed football players ask their coaches to put them back in the game. When these injured individuals say they “feel fine,” they really do feel fine even though they just sustained a serious injury.
Special Monthly Compensation SMCt Qualifications
These benefits are much different from VA disability benefits. To qualify for SMCt, the claimant must meet the following requirements:
- Regular A&A (aid and attendance) due to a combat-related TBI,
- The veteran is not eligible for SMC(r)(2) benefits, and
- Hospitalization or other institutionalization is the only alternative to A&A.
SMC(r)(2) is a much higher level of care than A&A. A claimant can not receive both kinds of benefits under any circumstances.
VA regulations define A&A as “helplessness [which requires] the regular aid and attendance of another person.” This person does not need to be a professional nurse or even a full-time caregiver. Any lay person, such as a friend, spouse, or child, will do.
This helplessness, or near helplessness, must be related to a daily activity, such as going to the bathroom, showering, dressing, eating, or prosthetic adjustment. The more help the veteran needs, the easier it is for an attorney to prove A&A.
Count on Tenacious Attorneys
If you need daily help because of a combat-related TBI, you may be eligible for the new SMCt 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 successfully represent veterans nationwide.
We will provide assistance for many types of issues on appeal, including, but not limited to: Dependency Indemnity Compensation, Agent Orange, Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), PTSD, and other mental health issues. Not included are Special Monthly Compensation issues.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.