If you’re a housebound Veteran, additional compensation may help alleviate your financial struggles. The attorneys at Berry Law can guide you through applying for and appealing SMC housebound benefits.
To qualify, you must have a permanent and total disability rating. The conditions can include amputations, loss of function in limbs or extremities, and inability to dress, bathe, or eat independently.
What is the VA Housebound Rate?
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides various benefits for its veterans, including pensions that provide supplemental income. A Veteran may qualify for a housebound retirement if they have a permanent disability that prevents them from leaving home. This disability does not necessarily have to be related to their military service but can also be the result of aging. Moreover, the VA housebound rate is a crucial factor in determining the level of benefits for veterans whose service-connected disabilities confine them to their homes, impacting the support they receive.
A Veteran who receives a housebound pension is entitled to Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). This additional compensation is paid on top of the Veteran’s existing rating, which determines how much they can be compensated.
Generally, SMC is given to Veterans with an evaluated disability of 100% or higher. To receive this rating, the Veteran must prove that they are confined to their home or immediate surroundings due to their disability. This can be done by submitting medical records detailing the current diagnosis and showing a medical nexus between their condition and an in-service stressor.
How Do I Know if I’m Housebound?
For eligibility for SMC housebound or aid and attendance benefits, you are considered homebound if your medical condition prevents you from leaving your home unless you are using the help of another person or special equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, or crutches. You can leave your home for religious services, medical treatment, and some special non-medical activities, like a family reunion or graduation.
To qualify for housebound status, you must provide a statement from your doctor that includes examination information, details on how your disability affects your daily routine, make it difficult to get around, and how this limits your social and recreational activities. You must also submit evidence such as bills, bank statements, and receipts of expenses paid for by others.
To qualify for a Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefit, you or your surviving spouse must have documented that your countable income falls below the maximum pension rate set by Congress. This includes any retirement, investment, or social security benefits, any payment from family members, and non-reimbursed medical expenses exceeding a certain amount.
What is Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)?
SMC is a form of additional monetary compensation for Veterans with specific types of disabilities or impairments that qualify as severe but are not accounted for by the standard disability rating schedule. Examples of SMC include loss of the use of a hand or foot, blindness in one or both eyes, and deafness in one or both ears.
To receive SMC, it must be shown that your condition is permanent and substantially confines you to your home. You must also prove that your service-connected disability is the direct cause of your situation and not just aggravated by your time in the military.
Six SMC levels are designated by letters L through O and R. The monetary amount varies by each rating. You may also be eligible for extra SMC payments based on other factors, such as your marital status or if you have dependents. These additional payments are known as SMC-K and SMC-Q.
How Can I Get SMC?
Veterans with severe disabilities may need assistance with everyday tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing, eating, etc. Getting a proper VA disability rating is one way to get this help. However, some disabilities require even more care than a schedular rating can provide. That’s where Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) comes in.
Many scenarios could qualify a Veteran for SMC, which adds to their current VA rating. These include having a permanent and total inability to travel outside their home, a hospital ward, or a care facility or having multiple disabilities (like arthritis) that combine to create a higher schedular rating than a single condition alone.
A veteran also gets SMC when they lose function of a body part, such as having an arm, hand, foot, or leg that’s been amputated. These situations are typically rated in SMC Levels L through O, though the amount you receive for each body part can be capped when you reach SMC Level K.