SMC is an additional tax-free benefit that can be paid to Veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. For Veterans, Special Monthly Compensation is a higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by another person or by specific disability, such as loss of use of one hand or leg. For spouses and surviving spouses, this benefit is commonly referred to as aid and attendance and is paid based on the need of aid and attendance by another person.
Source: Types of Compensation
Paid either in addition to (SMC K), or in place of regular ratings (all others). There are several different levels of SMC, and several different combinations of them as well.
The most common are Housebound and Aid and Attendance, both typically paid at the rate of SMC L. Higher levels of Aid and Attendance are allowed, depending on the amount of care needed by the vet. They are typically paid at the rate of either SMC R1, or R2. If you are rated at 100% for a single disability, and have another single disability that is ratable at 50%, or 100%, then you are entitled to the next higher rate of SMC. This is in addition to the additional 60% (single or combined) disabilities that jbasser spoke of.
SMC is a complicated beast that is very hard to understand. If you want to learn more about it, it is governed by 38 USC 1114, and regulated by 38 CFR 3.350
Can a Veteran Receive Additional Payments for Serious Disabilities?
VA can pay additional compensation to a veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities.
What Is Considered Loss or Loss of Use?
Loss, or loss of use, is described as either an amputation or, having no effective remaining function of an extremity or organ. The disabilities VA can consider for SMC include:
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
How Can You Apply?
You should contact you local VA regional office for information about applying for SMC. In determining qualifications for SMC, the VA must review the medical evidence regarding the loss or loss of use and then make a decision regarding the level of SMC to be paid.
What if I Have a Combination of These Disabilities?
The VA will pay higher rates for combinations of these disabilities such as loss or loss of use of the feet, legs, hands, and arms, in specific monetary increments, based on the particular combination of the disabilities. There are also higher payments for various combinations of severe deafness with bilateral blindness.
Additional SMC is available if a veteran is service connected for paraplegia, with complete loss of bowel and bladder control.
In addition, if you have other service-connected disabilities that, in combination with the above special monthly compensation, meet certain criteria, a higher amount of SMC can also be considered.
Can VA Pay SMC for Being Bedridden, Housebound, or in Need of the Aid and Attendance of Another Person?
If a veteran is service connected at the 100% rate and is housebound, bedridden, or is so helpless to need the aid and attendance of another person, then consideration of payment of additional SMC can be considered. The amount of SMC will vary depending on the level of aid and attendance needed.
References useful for Special Monthly Compensation Claims
PREC 2-00 Special Monthly Compensation for Loss of Creative Organ–Mastectomy–38 U.S.C. § 1114(k); 38 C.F.R. § 3.350(a) Citation: Vet. Aff. Op. Gen. Couns. Prec. 2-00, VAOPGCPREC 2-00, 2000
May the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through rule making authorize special monthly compensation under 38 U.S.C. § 1114(k) (k-rate SMC) for a service-connected mastectomy?PREC 30-97 Entitlement to Special Monthly Compensation for Dis-articulation of the Hips following preexisting Paraplegia Citation: Vet. Aff. Op. Gen Couns. Prec. 30-97, VAOPGCPREC 30-97, 1997
What level of special monthly compensation (SMC) should be awarded to a claimant with non service-connected paraplegia who is entitled to compensation under 38 U.S.C. § 1151 for dis-articulation of the hips?