Scenario #2: A 100% rating doesn’t get you the right Effective Dates.
When I teach Veterans how to pursue an appeal for a denied claim, here’s the “order of battle” I teach:
- Get your medical conditions service connected.
- Make sure the VA assigns the correct Impairment Rating.
- Fight for the earliest effective date possible.
Those last 2 often go hand in hand. But, many times, the VA will grant you a 100% rating – TDIU or schedular – and not give you the earliest effective date possible. At 100%, past due benefits can really start to add up.
Using the 2014 disability rate tables, a single Veteran loses out on $2,906.83 for each month. If the Veteran misses your correct effective date by 1 year, this means they are shorting a single Veteran $34,881.96. Double that for 2 years.
My point is this – just because the VA got your rating to 100% doesn’t mean that they gave you the right effective date. If you give up the fight early, you might be leaving a lot of benefits on the table.
Scenario #3: Special Monthly Compensation
Not many Veterans have ever heard of Special Monthly Compensation. And so many Veterans don’t pursue it when they get their 100% rating.
To be quite honest, far too many VA Raters haven’t heard of (or don’t correctly compute) Special Monthly Compensation.
Special Monthly Compensation is complicated – but generally, it works like this.
When a Veteran receives a 100% rating, the VA is supposed to consider whether they might be eligible for additional payments known as Special Monthly Compensation.
There are many different kinds of Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), but here are a few:
Statutory SMC – also known as SMC(s) is one of the more common types of SMC. It is commonly known as “Statutory/Housebound” SMC, because there are 2 ways to get it.
First, when a single Veteran with no kids has one 100% rating, and at least a 60% rating for a wholly separate condition/disability, that Veteran is entitled to an additional $347 a month in VA disability (using the rating tables effective 12/1/2014). This is the “Statutory” method of getting SMC(s).
Second, if a Veteran is housebound because of a service connected disability, that Veteran may be entitled to SMC(s) on a “housebound” basis. The VA’s definition of housebound is rather precise, and is discussed elsewhere on the Veterans Law Blog.
Loss – or loss of use – of extremities, sensory organs, and/or reproductive organs, might entitle one to Special Monthly Compensation as well. As could the need for Aid & Attendance.
The highest levels of Special Month Compensation can take a 100% Veteran as high as $8,859.84 a month – these Veterans are usually in pretty bad shape.
Even still, I’ve seen the VA “stiff” Veterans that are housebound, bed-bound, and quadriplegic out of Special Monthly Compensation.
This happens, most often, when a Veteran stopped fighting for their benefits after reaching 100%…..far too many Veterans think that is the highest level of compensation available.