Paycheck Chronicles

VA Finalizes Rule Paying Special Monthly Compensation to Some With TBI

FILE-- U.S. Air Force Maj Jonathan Forbes, 455 Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron neurosurgeon reviews magnetic resonance imaging of a patient (U.S. Air Force photo)
FILE-- U.S. Air Force Maj Jonathan Forbes, 455 Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron neurosurgeon reviews magnetic resonance imaging of a patient (U.S. Air Force photo)

You may have heard about the VA's Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) or Aid and Attendance benefit.

SMC is compensation paid in addition to regular disability compensation to a veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities.

According to regulations, the VA currently pays SMC for:

  • loss, or loss of use, of a hand or foot
  • immobility of a joint or paralysis
  • loss of sight of an eye (having only light perception)
  • loss, or loss of use, of a reproductive organ
  • complete loss, or loss of use, of both buttocks
  • deafness of both ears (having absence of air and bone conduction)
  • inability to communicate by speech (complete organic aphonia)
  • loss of a percentage of tissue from a single breast, or both breasts, from mastectomy or radiation treatment

Law Changed in 2010

The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 authorized the VA to pay SMC to some veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and its residual effects. This change was effective October 1, 2011.

The VA had been paying SMC to TBI veterans based on non-regulatory guidance, which basically meant that veterans could get the SMC benefit if they suffered from TBI, but it was difficult and often required an appeal to get approved. 

Rule Finalized

Well, according to a rule published in the Federal Register, the VA will begin paying SMC for veterans with TBI on June 7, 2018.

This applies to veterans with TBI who are in need of aid and attendance, and without such aid and attendance would need hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care.

To be considered in need of aid & attendance, a veteran must be:

  • unable to dress/undress without assistance
  • unable to keep clean and presentable without assistance
  • unable to feed or care for themselves without assistance

Those suffering from TBI and eligible for SMC will get SMC at the R.2 or T rate. 

Check out our SMC rate tables. 

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