As a veteran, you may be familiar with Special Monthly Compensation (SMC).
But did you know there’s an SMC category you can get on top of your monthly VA disability compensation?
It’s called SMC-K, and we’re breaking down everything you need to know about it in this post.
We’re cutting through all the over-complicated VA jargon so you can come away knowing exactly what you need to know to take advantage of this VA add-on.
- #1. What is SMC-K?
- #2. SMC-K Pay Rate
- #3. VA SMC-K Requirements
- #4. How do I Apply for SMC-K?
- #5. Will SMC-K Increase in 2024?
- #6. SMC-K: Defining “Loss” and “Loss of Use”
- #7. SMC-K Loss of a Creative Organ
- #8. The 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates
- #9. Does 100% PTSD Qualify for SMC-K?
- NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
#1. What is SMC-K?
SMC-K is an additional tax-free monthly payment you can receive from the VA if you have a special type of VA disability. It’s just one of the many types of Special Monthly Compensation.
All types of SMC are intended to help veterans with disabilities that the regular VA rating schedule can’t properly rate. The thinking is that some VA disabilities are more debilitating than others and warrant a rating above 100%.
SMC-K is unique because it can be awarded in addition to a regular VA disability rating. All other types of SMC are awarded instead of a regular VA Disability rating.
And you aren’t limited to one SMC-K payment. You can get $128.62 a month for each part of your body that qualifies, which we will get into more in the next section.
However, SMC-K payments are capped depending on what other compensation you’re receiving:
Disability Compensation: The total amount of compensation received cannot be more than the amount of compensation given for Category L.
Other SMC Compensation: The total amount of compensation received must not add up to be more than the amount given under Category O. Category O is the top limit for these categories.
SMC-K is a flat rate. That means it doesn’t increase if you have dependents. You get $128.62 per month, no matter if you’re single or have 12 kids.
#2. SMC-K Pay Rate
So, how much is SMC-K?
The SMC-K 2023 rate is $128.62 per month.
This amount can be in addition to the monthly compensation you get for your service-connected disability.
You CAN receive SMC-K in addition to these other types of SMC:
- SMC-L ½
- SMC-M ½
- SMC-N ½
You CAN NOT receive SMC-K in addition to these other types of SMC:
NOTE: SMC-K can be given to SMC-R, but only if the condition that qualifies for Category K is not the same condition that qualifies for Category R. If Category K is added to Category R, the total Special Monthly Compensation cannot be more than the highest amount given for Category R1.
#3. VA SMC-K Requirements
SMC-K is meant to help veterans who’ve lost or lost use of a part of their body.
Qualifying for SMC-K
To qualify for SMC-K, you must have:
- Lost, or lost use of, one hand
- Lost, or lost use of, one foot
- Lost, or lost use of, both buttocks
- Lost, or lost use of, one or more creative organs
- Total blindness of one eye, having only light perception
- Physical loss of one eye
- Deafness in both ears
- Complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech
- (For female veterans) Loss of 25% or more of tissue from a single breast or both breasts in combination (including loss by mastectomy or partial mastectomy) or following receipt of radiation treatment of breast tissue.
As with all service-connected disabilities, you must have lost, or lost use of, a part of your body as a result of your military service (aka service connection).
#4. How do I Apply for SMC-K?
To apply for SMC-K, you need to contact your regional VA office. Once you find your regional office, give them a call and tell them you want to apply for SMC. Be prepared to talk about your VA disability.
SMC is awarded on a case-by-case basis. When you apply, the VA will review the medical evidence related to your disability and determine which level of SMC you’re eligible for based on the severity of your disability.
Do I Have to File a Claim for SMC-K?
No, you don’t have to file for SMC-K.
It’s the VA’s responsibility to determine whether there is loss, or loss of use, of a part of your body.
But if you think you qualify for SMCK but the VA has not determined that you do, you should call your regional VA office.
#5. Will SMC-K Increase in 2024?
Most likely. All VA rates will probably increase in 2024 because of the VA’s mandate to match the cost of living. This is known as the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the rise in cost of living standards, and several government agencies, including the VA and Social Security, adjust their rates accordingly.
However, we estimate that the increase will be much lower than last year’s 8.9% increase. Despite the sky-high and still rising inflation, it will likely be closer to 3.1%.
#6. SMC-K: Defining “Loss” and “Loss of Use”
When it comes to Special Monthly Compensation, “loss” means anatomical loss. The VA defines anatomical loss as the physical loss of a body part. Usually, this means the body part has been amputated.
If you’ve suffered an anatomical loss of a body part due to your military service, you could be eligible for several types of Special Monthly Compensation.
Loss of use, on the other hand, does not mean the body part has been disconnected from the rest of your body. It just means it can no longer effectively function. Losing the use of a part of your body can also qualify you for most types of SMC.
#7. SMC-K Loss of a Creative Organ
One phrase you hear a lot in connection with SMC-K is “loss of a creative organ.”
What does this mean?
Creative organ simply refers to your reproductive organs. If you’ve lost, or lost use of, one or both testicles or your ovaries, then you’ve lost a creative organ and could be eligible for SMC-K payments.
#8. The 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates
Check out the table below for all SMC rates.
Figure 1. 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) Rates
#9. Does 100% PTSD Qualify for SMC-K?
There is no way to qualify for SMC-K because of PTSD. Remember, SMC-K is meant to help Veterans who’ve lost or lost the use of a part of their body. So, PTSD doesn’t apply.
However, it’s possible to qualify for Aid and Attendance allowance because of your PTSD.
To qualify for Aid and Attendance allowance, one of the following must be true:
- You need another person to help you perform daily activities like bathing, feeding, and dressing
- You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness or
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability
- Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses, you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
NOTE: You could also qualify if you get a VA pension and you spend most of your time in your home because of a permanent disability.
PTSD can cause several of these qualifying factors, which means you could be eligible for Aid and Attendance allowance.
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
If your disability makes you eligible for Special Monthly Compensation, you’ve got enough on your plate without worrying about the VA.
We want to make sure you get every penny you’re due by law. You’ve served your country honorably, and you need and deserve the support these benefits aim to provide.
Take the next step today in your VA claims journey. It could make a significant difference in your life. If you’re looking to increase your rating or are filing for the first time, reach out and schedule your FREE VA Claims Insider Discovery Call.