Special Monthly Compensation fascinates me. There’s a valid reason. They can no more follow a standard path to granting it unless prodded to add it up themselves. In most cases, they make no attempt to award it if it’s a sum of smaller 10%s, 20%s and 30% ratings. Obvious cases stand out and the mere presence of a wheelchair immediately alerts a dimwit rater that 38 CFR §3.350 will/may have to be consulted in the M-21 3MR.
I spotted Kevin’s remark several days ago and am only now getting back to him to decypher. I apologize for the delay. Here’s a snapshot:
Thank you for defining the (SMC) so that we could better understand it’s meaning(s). I would like to ask you or anyone who is knowledgeable with (SMC’s) the following question’s please? I am receiving SMC-L for service connect seizures. I was wondering if I can apply for a higher rating as I do receive aid and attendance and am home-bound, and bedridden (due) to loss of use in both legs. I require the daily/nightly need of a person to assist me even with the simplest of matters as I live alone and have no family that can care for me. My son is on his 3rd tour in Afghanistan, and as we all know, the ARMY comes first. Is the $3602.02 per month I receive already inclusive of aid and attendance pay?
My service connection(s) is 100% for seizures, and 20% for my lower back condition which worsened due to falls from seizures that have now left me incapacitated. Both leg’s are rated at 0%, but they were rated way back when, and perhaps now I should file a claim for a higher rating sense (A) caused (B)?
I am just wondering if I can apply for anything else as my monthly expenses for my care eat up everything I receive?
I look forward to anyone who could assist me with my question’s, and sincerely wish each of you a heartfelt thank you for your service to our great Nation.
Thank you all in advance,
Wowser. That’s some heavy baggage to be carrying, sir. It always gives me pause to know others suffer far more than a lot of us. I thank Someone for picking me up and dusting me off. Let me break down your questions into colors as each one needs a unique answer so all can understand the concept. Remember, we’re dealing with VA logic and VA Math so put your mental seat belt on.
Question #1 is most easily answered in reverse. I’ll break it down so you can see how VA “builds” our VA comp. payment.
100% disabled @1 Veteran alone = $29o6.83
If you were 100% belly up and had an additional 60% or more of disability unrelated to the 100% rating, you would get SMC- S. If you are clearly housebound and do not have that extra 60% , VA awards it anyway. The winning word definition is “substantially”.
100% disabled@ 1 Vet on SMC S =$3352.67
If you were belly up as Kevin is and need the Full Meal deal supersized with a Caregiver, we step into the next phase called Aid and Attendance 1 and 2.
Once you need a caregiver, it splits into two channels. If you are pre-9/11/2001, you take the old route of no caregiver money as a bonus rider. You simply move from SMC S to SMC L which is, in essence, SMC S with Aid and Attendance #1 (sometimes defined as A&A #1. Post 9/11 Vets get this plus a caregiver allowance of $2100.00 more. I didn’t make the rule. It’s brand new. Talk to your VSO about it.
100% disabled @ 1 Vet on SMC-L =$3,617.02. Either Kevin is off $10.00 or VA is shortsheeting him. Could be he has a VA-appointed fiduciary who is allowed to nick him $90 per year for “administering” his benefit.
That concludes how I answer the Bleu. Now let’s see how we can make Kevin a little more even though everyone by now has told him he’s hit the wall.
Let’s count all the ailments we can consider. First, you have no Special Monthly Compensation K ratings. You can legally have as many as you qualify for until you get to SMC O. Special K, as we call it, is $103.23 a month per each. The list isn’t that long but when you begin with SMC-L, it doesn’t take much to push you into SMC M or $3991.74. Remember, I’m not asking you to cheat. Perish the thought. I merely point out what VA will and will not do without a 300,000 volt cattle prod. What’s worse, either VSO reps will argue this doesn’t exist or that it is “gaming the system”. I say if you’re driving a wheelchair instead of a Prius, all’s now fair in love and war with the VA.
Common Special K ratings are loss of or loss of use of a creative organ. You can’t get it up due to a disease like DM 2 or IHD blood pressure medicine, or, if a woman, have lost 25% or more of one or both breasts to mastectomy. Missing nuts and ovaries are hunky dory qualifiers as well.
Loss of only one foot or one hand at the ankle or wrist. Again, you can have loss of use and pick up the $40% for the missing extremity and be dialing in $103.23 more for each K on top of your standard $2906.83 above.
The Forrest Gump award of both buttocks is good for Special K. Total deafness in both ears is a K. Loss of one eye, or loss of use of one eye is another. Thus you can see if you were standing too close to a grenade or 60mm mortar rd., you can pick up some easy extras.
The gravy train maxes out if your combo goes over SMC L’s limit of $3.617.02. Lot’s of Vets are housebound (SMC-S) when they are missing parts and pieces. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the steering wheel or see where you’re going. In these cases, VA often opts up to SMC-L & 1/2 but only if prodded to do so. Any time they “forget” to do this, it’s not considered error. Remember always that in VAland, Justice delayed is not Justice denied.
The next major move is as Kevin theorizes. Like the old Mark Eden commercials for young girls exhorting them on how to expand their “upper endowment”, Kevin is going to have to begin filing for additional ratings that will increase his combined total “endowment” above the original 100%. He mentions two viable alternatives- an existing 20% for a lower back injury that has increased in severity. It sounds as though the legs are secondary to the lower back (A=B). If so, they will combine the ratings unless they are separately rated as due to two separate medical maladies.
The maximum for his back will be 60%. He can still possibly lasso a Special K for loss of use of the creative organ for a buck 3 and change. But most importantly, now that Kevin is in SMC- L through P country, a whole new metric kicks in. The back injury can technically be considered another completely total rating-albeit the back ratings disability chart tops out at 60%. A simple increase to 50% or more entitles Kevin to bump up a half-level to SMC L 1/2 which is $3804 even. A special K would top it at $3,907. 23. Add additional increments of $103.23 as indicated unless you exceed the dollar value of SMC- M.
This can also go higher. If Kevin is diagnosed with another disease/ injury unique and separate that would be considered 100% schedular totally disabling (such as IHD) from too many Agent Tang cocktails in the morning, he can bump up a full rating from SMC-L to SMC-M which pays $3991.74. Again, as many Special Ks are permitted on top of it unless it takes you over the SMC M 1/2 rate. If that occurs- yep- you have to convert to SMC-M 1/2 for $4,266 even. All good things have limits. In addition to this, if Kevin has actual loss of, or loss of use of, three extremities (two hands and a foot or a like combo) he also can get yet another bump up one rate so he could conceivably work up to a SMC N 1/2 or -O or $5,075.60. No more Special K when you get here. You’re getting too rich off of VA. This would actually be a matter of first impression as no one has been there and tested the waters of 38 CFR 3.350(f) (5) to see if you can partake of (3) or (4) as well.
Getting the extra Aid and Attendance caregiver rate at SMC T is a rough one unless you served after 9/11 as I mentioned. That extra $2200 a month is crucial to some in the inner-city who need more medical resources. Conversely, caregivers cost more and put a bigger crimp on an already small compensation payment in an urban environment. Until Congress equalizes this inequity, all you pre-9/11 Vets must operate in an imperfect arrangement. I guess VA feels we should vote with our wheelchairs and move to the country. There, we’ll find poor folk willing to be caregivers for a pittance and we can balance our meagre paychecks on their backs.
The only other way appears to be to turn into a living lump with no major responses. Being in a coma would qualify for R 2’s $8,318.95. Since Kevin was already entitled to the old R1 back in SMC-L country, he could qualify for R1 now on a bigger rating combo of 200% or $7252.63 but he’ll need some unremunerated Special Ks to show his A&A entitlement should go higher. “Show” is a relative term because VA raters think Kevin will have to be blind and deaf to even think about applying. Scratch thinking. If you’re in a coma, you’re probably not engaged in cogent thought. That’s where that useless VA fiduciary comes in. He’s going to max your payment to help max his. Well, duh, Cowboy.