Many veterans do not realize that compensation is available at levels higher than VA pays out at the 100% rating level. In other words, in some circumstances, you may be entitled to more benefits, even if you already have a 100% rating. The benefit is called Special Monthly Compensation, and VA is required to consider if where certain circumstances are satisfied. In many instances, it is a benefit that is overlooked.
Although there are several different injuries for which one might be entitled to Special Monthly Compensation, one that stands out allows veterans who have a 100% disability rating to be paid additional compensation if he or she is “permanently housebound” because of service-connected disabilities. Now, as you might expect, the fight with the VA often occurs on the question of whether the veteran is “permanently housebound.” This a factual finding, meaning that the judge (or regional office adjudicator) will take a look at all of the evidence, including the medical records and statement from the veteran and his family, and make a determination as to whether the veteran is “permanently housebound.” VA has interpreted “permanently housebound” to mean that the veteran is substantially confined to his or her home because of service-connected disabilities. You don’t have to be totally confined, just substantially confined. So, if you leave for medical appointments, you still might be able to get this benefit.
The other fight that I see a lot with this benefit is on the question of whether the veteran’s service-connected disability, as opposed to a non-service-connected condition, is what is keeping the veteran from leaving his or her home. In these cases, it might take a doctor’s note saying that the veteran’s service-connected disability would preclude him or her from leaving home.
These can be challenging cases but I do see cases of deserving veterans where this benefit has been overlooked.
Do You Qualify for Special Monthly Compensation Benefits?