What is Special Monthly Compensation due to TBI (SMCt)?
Special Monthly Compensation due to TBI (SMCt) is a level specifically for veterans who suffer debilitating residuals of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Many medical professionals refer to Traumatic Brain Injuries as the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Roadside bombs and other IEDs cause many of these wounds, even if the Veteran was several blocks away from the blast and suffered no other physical injuries. Explosive blasts trigger shock waves that disrupt brain functions.
Due to the prevalence and severity of such injuries, Congress recently expanded the Special Monthly Compensation program. SMCt is now the highest-paying such program. In addition to free VA medical care, available benefits include up to $9,467.04 a month in monetary benefits for veterans with a spouse, two parents, and one child. However, as outlined below, these benefits are only available in limited situations.
Qualifying for SMCt Benefits
These benefits are not additional disability benefits. Instead, SMC is a completely different program. The VA designed these benefits as compensation for Veterans who are more than disabled. These claimants must essentially be bedridden and unable to care for themselves. The specific SMCt requirements are:
- Need for Aid and Attendance Under 38 C.F.R. 3.351(a), Regular Aid and Attendance (A&A) means “helplessness or being so nearly helpless as to require the regular aid and attendance of another person.” In brain injury situations, this A&A usually means help with things like going to the bathroom and bathing. A&A could also mean the need for protection in public.
- A&A is Necessary for Independent Living: This factor further defines the Veteran’s need for A&A. Essentially, if the Veteran did not have an in-home caregiver, the Veteran would be in a hospital or nursing home.
- Ineligible for SMC(r)(2): This requirement does not come up very often. SMC(r)(2) assistance is a higher level of aid reserved for Veterans who need help form from licensed in-home caregivers for things like injections and physical therapy. Truthfully, if the Veteran qualifies for this higher level, the claimant would probably not apply for SMCt.
The A&A caregiver need not be licensed and need not be full-time. Typically, a spouse or adult child is the Veteran’s caregiver.
Obtaining SMCt Benefits
Theoretically, the VA is supposed to identify and takes the initiative in developing SMCt cases. Veterans need not apply for these benefits. Bureaucrats are supposed to consider SMCt benefits if the Veteran meets the minimum qualifications discussed above. That procedure does not happen all the time, but the mindset does make it easier to obtain SMCt benefits.
If Veterans establish a service-connected TBI and a need for A&A, they usually obtain maximum SMCt benefits.
Frequently, combat-related brain injuries are easy to document. That is especially true if the Veteran sustained other injuries which required immediate hospitalization. In other cases, the connection is more difficult. If the Veteran was not otherwise injured, a TBI is harder to document. An attorney might need to provide additional medical records from stateside doctors.
In terms of A&A necessity, before-and-after testimony is usually effective. For example, a spouse could testify that before Jim went to Iraq he was very independent. Now, he needs help with basic activities of daily living and/or he has a hard time interacting with people in public. Real stories like these are usually more compelling than buzzwords, unless the witness is a degreed professional.
Contact Dedicated Attorneys
Severe combat-related brain injury victims often need help that standard disability benefits cannot provide. 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.
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.