VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Updated: April 18, 2020
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    What is the VA Special Monthly Compensation Program? This important benefit, known as SMC for short, is a tax-free VA benefit that may be paid to veterans, their spouses, parents, and certain qualifying surviving spouses. This compensation is paid in cases where a veteran or other qualified applicant needs assistance from another person due to what the VA describes as a “specific disability.”

    SMC is described as a “higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances.”

    What VA Special Monthly Compensation Is For

    The VA official site states that Special Monthly Compensation for the veteran is offered for a variety of qualifying injuries that include, but may not be limited to, certain injuries described in a VA guide to Special Compensation Ratings.

    Special Monthly Compensation Eligibility Guidelines

    Eligibility for SMC is possible for each instance of “anatomical loss,” or loss of use of:

    • One hand
    • One foot
    • Both buttocks
    • One or more “creative organs” as defined by the VA

    Other injuries or conditions that may qualify include:

    • Blindness of one eye having only light perception
    • Deafness of both ears, having “absence of air and bone conduction”
    • Complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech

    Women veterans may also qualify for VA Special Monthly Compensation due to:

    • Loss of 25% or more of tissue from a single breast or both breasts in combination
    • Breast loss by mastectomy or partial mastectomy)
    • Radiation treatment of breast tissue

    Combinations Of Injuries or Conditions

    When it comes to combinations of injuries, the VA rules state that “Determinations must be based upon separate and distinct disabilities.” What does this mean?

    If a veteran has suffered the loss or loss of use of two extremities and is being considered for the maximum SMC rate “on account of helplessness requiring regular aid and attendance,” VA rules state that the need must be determined based on “pathology other than that of the extremities.”

    More specifically, the VA rules in this area state that “Under no circumstances will the combination of ‘being permanently bedridden’ and/or ‘being so helpless as to require regular aid and attendance’ without separate “anatomical loss, or loss of use, of two extremities, or blindness,” be considered as justification to receive the maximum benefit payment amount.

    “Maximum Compensation” Cases

    VA rules state that in certain cases a veteran may be eligible for additional payments under certain circumstances. An additional allowance may be authorized, “during periods he or she is not hospitalized at United States Government expense”

    VA health care guidelines here add that “regular” levels of aid and attendance or SMC payments may be payable “whether or not the need for regular aid and attendance or a higher level of care was a partial basis for entitlement to the maximum rate.”

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    SMC For Family Members Of The Veteran

    Special Monthly Compensation for non-veterans (spouses, other qualifying family members) is referred to as Aid And Attendance according to the VA official site. The VA defines Aid and Attendance as a benefit intended for those who need, as the name implies, the assistance of another person or are housebound.

    VA Aid And Attendance Benefits

    Aid and Attendance benefits are paid in addition to a VA monthly pension and, “are not paid without eligibility to Pension” according to the VA official site.

    Aid and Attendance payments can increase the recipient’s pension and the VA advises that those who are not technically eligible for a basic VA pension due to receiving too much other income may be permitted to receive Aid and Attendance and a pension “at these increased rates.”

    Veterans and surviving spouses are not permitted to get more than one Aid and Attendance type benefit at a time; for example Aid and Attendance would not be paid on top of a housebound benefit.

    Filing Claims For SMC or Aid And Attendance Benefits

    • The general advice for filing any VA medical claim including the benefits mentioned here include examining basic qualifying criteria for both veterans and qualifying spouses.
    • The veteran served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
    • The veteran was sick or injured during military service or had an illness or injury before entering the military which was aggravated by military service.
    • The veteran has a disability related to active-duty service that didn’t appear until after service ended.

    The applicant seeking VA SMC or Aid And Attendance benefits will be required to gather medical evidence to support the request including medical records, diagnoses, x-rays and other materials as required by the VA.

    Applicants should be sure the claim forms are completely and properly filled out. You will be required to submit supporting documents with your claim unless you are instructed otherwise by a VA representative.

    The procedures for spouses and other non-veterans to apply for benefits as a qualifying relative of the veteran may vary depending on the benefits you seek but in general you will need to submit proof of the relationship (marriage certificate, birth records or other paperwork as appropriate) in addition to any medical evidence and other supporting documentation.

    In cases where the veteran has died, additional documentation is required including a death certificate and other items that may be needed by the VA to establish dates and causes of death where applicable.

    Written by Team