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.
From the Sleep Apnea Field Manual to the “How to File a VA Claim” Training Modules….I’ll teach you how to build your OWN claims, the RIGHT way.
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.
And in the end, here’s what I realized: most Veterans could get OUT Of the Hamster Wheel a LOT faster if they just understood what they needed to do in their VA Claims.
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.
Chris, you are giving out much needed information, I ordered all your books, etc. and I read all the information you gave in those books and I was successful in getting 100% and SMC recently, you taught me everything I needed to know to pursue my claims. I would recommend every veteran get your information and following the information you offer.
Thank You Chris,
Thanks for that positive feedback…and as always, let me know how to make it BETTER!
The money spent is well worth the wisdom, experience and knowledge base are well worth the tips you will receive.. I am PA by profession so the medical part is not a problem for me in fact I did my own claim and was successful at a 100% SC PT FOR LUPUS and other autoimmune diseases and 70% for major depression. You ask then why am I a member on this site? It is easy, I am entitled to a higher SMC PAY SO I need to generate a new claim but most of all it is learning to be concise, use the right verbiage and mass the right evidence. I submitted over 2000 pages which 99% was probably ever looked at. I need help organizing, knowing volumes of medicine works against me..I need to keep it simple. Plus I get a blog written by one of the best VA attorneys. This site is a Veterans dream come true….I have had many VSO tell me I should settle for what I have…just like the article stated…well as long as my disabilities warrant further benefits, I will continue.. Thanks for your dedication to Veterans. I will pass this site on to my brothers in arms. Jim
Thanks for the feedback, Mike! If I can make the blog better, let me know!
This is probably why the VA downgraded my 60% ascemic heart disease rating to 30% at the same time I was was awarded 100% TDIU. They indicated their assessment of my coronary heart disease was that it was “better”, when I know it is not. I figured “What difference does it make – I got the 100% TDIU, so I’m getting all I can”. I recently had a cardiac stress test and didn’t do well. Should I gather info from my Cardiologist and disagree with their reduction to 30%? If I succeed, do I chance losing my TDIU 100% rating? It seems to me if I am successful, I should be eligible for the additional $347 monthly.
Thanks for the information.
Dennie – that is a very astute observation, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that is the reason that the VA lowered your disability rate for Ischemic Heart Disease.
One possibility, though…..Was the heart condition that was rated at 60% the condition that got you TDIU? If so, you probably would not have been eligible for SMC(s) because the 100% and the 60% condition have to be separate conditions.
Anytime! Let me know what other VA Claims information you need to read about…this blog is meant to help y’all take back the power in your VA Claims.
Hi Chris. Thx for advocating for our comrades. I myself bin fighting the VA since 1978. From 10% to 50, back down to 10 then up to 70%. I have 2 VBA Claims that were heard via video conferencing in Oakland last year and they reversed the denial to acceptance while the 2nd claim will have to be reevaluated 1st before rated. But I’m still waiting for the new percentage rating from the prior denial. This case has been ongoing since 2007. How much longer will this go on before being rated? Thx much.
ive been dealing with the VA for years, I’ve used the Rep 4 Vets since 2010. I’m not really sure of what is going on. I’ve supplied them most of the info I can. The VA wants me to put down stresses but I go side ways when I try. I’ve been on a lot of different meds some may have been MAOIs. I know one was Amptritripline while on Tramadil and Methacarbonal. It says not to. I wonder if maybe you can help me. I’ve been on Rispodine for a long time and now I have problems remembering things
Sincey, JH Jr. Gulf War vet USN