If you are no longer able to work and have been approved for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits, you may also qualify for what’s known as Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). This additional benefit should be decided when your original application is processed, but SMC benefits are often overlooked by VA representatives who aren’t fully aware of the law.
What Veterans Need to Know About Special Monthly Compensation
Unlike TDIU, which compensates you for the effect of your disability on your earning potential, SMC payments are compensation for non-economic factors such as the inconvenience or profound nature of a disability. Examples of disabilities that are severe enough to qualify for Special Monthly Compensation include the loss or loss of use of a hand or foot, deafness in both ears, loss of sight, or loss of the ability to communicate with speech.
To receive SMC, you must have a 100% total disability rating based on schedular ratings or TDIU and an additional disability rated at or combining to 60% or more. However, if a Veteran wants to receive SMC and TDIU, the 60% rating has to come from a disability that was not a basis for the grant of TDIU.
As an example, consider a Veteran who has PTSD and paralysis of the sciatic nerve. If both disabilities were considered when they were approved for TDIU benefits, neither can be used to qualify for SMC. However, if the Veteran qualified for TDIU based on PTSD alone and his paralysis of the sciatic nerve has a 60% or higher rating, he would qualify for both TDIU and SMC.
Alternatively, Veterans can qualify for SMC if they are substantially confined to their homes as a result of a service-connected disability. Inexperienced VA representatives often deny SMC when an applicant is not housebound. However, being confined to your home is not required under the 60% standard.
Protect Your Right to Benefits
VA disability law can be quite complex, but you deserve to receive all of the benefits you are entitled to. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our Veteran benefits attorneys can help.