One of the most common situations where Veterans are steered down the wrong path is this scenario:
→ Veteran receives a 100% rating (schedular or TDIU – it doesn’t matter which)…AND…..
→ Veteran is rated at 60% or higher (or COULD be rated at 60% or higher pending outcome of an appeal) for another unrelated condition.
In this scenario, the VSO (and some other advocates) often tell the Veteran: “be happy you get 100%, don’t appeal or they’ll lower your rating”.
“Quit while you’re ahead.”
Or some such similar nonsense.
If you follow that VSO’s guidance, do you know how much he may have just cost you? $397 a month.
Let me show you why…..
The VSO Did NOT Know about Special Monthly Compensation.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC, if you prefer acronyms) is a benefit that allows a Veteran to get levels of VA Compensation in special situations (loss of use of limbs, need for assistance in daily living activities, et).
Most of these forms of SMC will push the Veteran’s monthly compensation above – sometimes far above – the 100% rate.
SMC is a complex topic – there are MANY different levels. This post is going to tell you about just one commonly missed type of SMC.
Fair warning, the VA will fight you “tooth and nail” on entitlement to SMC. They HATE paying it out.
If you have a 100% rating for Condition A (I don’t care which kind of 100% rating it is – schedular or TDIU) …. AND ….. you are rated for 60% in any other single condition, then you are automatically entitled to an extra monthly payment known as SMC(s).
As of the VA Compensation Rate Tables issued December 1, 2014, SMC(s) bumps a 100% rating up an additional $347 per month, to these amounts:
With Spouse: $3415.74
With 1 Child: 3,362.06
With Spouse + 1 Child: 3,534.44
This benefit is known as Statutory Housebound SMC…and while you CAN be housebound to get it….Congress never meant for you to be housebound to receive it.
You see, when Congress wrote the law – check it out, it’s 38 U.S.C. §1114(s) they know that some Veterans had high schedular ratings for a lot of different medical conditions. And they intended for the VA to pay you more if you were rated at 100% and had EITHER one of these situations:
1) You were housebound, OR,
2) You had another rating for a single disability at 60% or higher for an unrelated condition.
By the way, every once in a while, some “wet behind the ears” VA Rater, VSO, or Bar-room Attorney will try to tell you that 38 USC § 1114 only applies to “Wartime Disability Compensation”….well, just be sure you look at 38 USC §1134 which makes SMC applicable to peace-time Vets, too.
Could YOU Use an extra $347 per month?
Of course you could – if you are like most of my clients, you are struggling to make it by as it is.
Your VA Benefits are your life-line to an easier reintegration – maybe helps you pay for that marital counseling you need after 6 deployments in a row…..or the private chiropractor that makes your neck feel better than any VA doctor ever could….pays the electric bill….or allows you to buy REAL food at the grocery store instead of all that crap Monsanto tries to pawn off as food.
So when you get a 100% rating – TDIU or schedular – and a VSO tells you to “be happy with what you got”, just know this: if you have another condition that could be rated at 60% or more, that VSO is telling you to walk away from up to an extra $4,164 a year!!
So much for VSO‘s being “free”. Most times, bad “advice” from a VSO or advocate is going to cost you.
That’s a Great “Special Monthly Compensation” Tip, Chris….But How the Hell Would I Have Known That?
Most of you wouldn’t have known that.
In fact, if I had a nickel for each VA Rater that missed the Statutory Housebound benefit…
….I’d have enough nickels to BUILD a house.
That’s not a slam – SMC is hard, and it took me a long time to “get” how it worked.
So, how on earth could you, the lone Veteran battling the VA have known about the Statutory Housebound benefit?
You couldn’t…but you don’t have to….
This is the Whole Reason the Veterans Law Blog exists.
Since 2007 I have shown Veterans how to get the benefits that they are entitled to – in a variety of ways:
→ The Veterans Law Blog can put you in the “Elite 1%” when it comes to VA Claims knowledge, law and process.
→ My Field Manuals and Training Videos will give you EXTRA information that I cannot cram into an email or a blog post….much of it demonstrating the practical “litigating” skills I’ve learned these past 9 years of helping Veterans.
Listen, ya’ll…I’m not here to get rich…if I wanted to get rich I’d just run for Congress.
I served, too…US Army 1993 – 2004. And I’ve been down the VA Claims road – in my own claim and in claims and appeals for hundreds, if not thousands, of Veterans.
My Vision – the Goal of the Veterans Law Blog – is to be the BEST resource for showing Veterans how to Cut through the Fog of VA Claims by teaching Veterans how to take back the power in their own VA Claims.
I hope that this tip helped you out…just remember….the claim rarely ends with the 100% rating (TDIU or otherwise) … in fact, the 100% rating is just one way to open the door to much higher levels of VA Disability Compensation.