Select Page

M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, Chapter 2, Section H – Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

1.  General Information on SMC


Introduction

This topic contains general information on SMC, including

Change Date

June 7, 2018

IV.ii.2.H.1.a.      Definition:  SMC

Special monthly compensation (SMC) is an additional level of compensation to Veterans (above the basic levels of compensation payable based on disability ratings of 0 to 100 percent) for various types of anatomical losses or levels of impairment due solely to service-connected (SC) disabilities.
Reference:  For more information on SMC, see

IV.ii.2.H.1.b.  Responsibility for Determining LOU

The responsibility for determining whether there is loss of use (LOU) of an extremity
  • rests with the rating activity, and
  • cannot be delegated to the examining physician.

IV.ii.2.H.1.c.  Information to Request From an Examiner to Determine LOU

When requesting an examination to determine LOU of an extremity, ask the examiner to furnish a
  • detailed objective description of remaining function
  • quantitative assessment of strength for each extremity involved, and
  • description of any pain that affects use.
Do not request that the examiner
  • determine LOU, or
  • express an opinion as to whether there is, or is not, LOU of an extremity or extremities.
Note:  If LOU cannot be determined upon review of an examination report, request an appropriate specialized examination.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.1.d.  Determining the Extent of Examinations in Claims Involving SMC Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) Through (n)

Exercise considerable care when requesting examinations in connection with claims involving SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) through (n).
Example:  A prior examination clearly established LOU of both lower extremities at a level preventing natural knee action.  Do not request a complete medical examination if the only issue in question is the extent of involvement of one or both of the upper extremities.  Instead, request an examination with a notation that the examination be restricted to the degree of functional impairment of the upper extremities.

IV.ii.2.H.1.e.  Considering Amputation or LOU of Extremities

A determination as to LOU of a hand or foot is not restricted to organic loss; it includes functional LOU as well.
The relevant inquiry concerning entitlement to SMC is not whether amputation is warranted.  Instead, question whether the effective function remaining is other than that which would be equally well served by an amputation with the use of a suitable prosthetic appliance.
Reference:  For more information on determining entitlement to SMC based on LOU that is equivalent to amputation, see Tucker v. West, 11 Vet.App. 369, 374 (1998).

IV.ii.2.H.1.f.  Showing Entitlement to SMC in Rating Decisions

Entitlement to SMC must be reflected in the Coded Conclusion section of the rating decision by
  • noting entitlement to SMC and statutory awards immediately following citation of the combined evaluation of all SC disabilities (if more than one exists)
  • listing any anatomical loss as the first entitlement in order of preference over all LOUs, and
  • citing separately each additional specific disability if entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) is shown for more than one anatomical loss, or LOU.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.1.g.  Showing the Denial of SMC in Rating Decisions

The denial of SMC must be addressed in the Narrative of the rating decision using the text generated by the software application with which the rating activity prepares the decision.
Notes:
  • The generated text should be considered the baseline text for the narrative denial of SMC.  The rating activity should edit the generated text as necessary to provide details specific to the individual SMC claim.
  • Veterans Benefits Management System – Rating (VBMS-R) is the primary software application used for preparing rating decisions.

IV.ii.2.H.1.h.  Mandatory Use of the SMC Calculator

The rating activity must use the SMC Calculator to determine the appropriate SMC codes and SMC paragraphs to input into the Codesheet of the rating decision.  Decision makers are required to upload the SMC Calculator results, whether from the legacy tool or the SMC Calculator included in VBMS-R, in the claims folder.
When uploading the SMC Calculator worksheet results to VBMS, users should identify the worksheet by entering the following information:
  • TYPE:  Worksheet: Rating Calculator Worksheets
  • SOURCE:  VBMS
  • SUBJECT:  SMC Calculator Worksheet
Notes:
  • Build the SMC rating narrative using system generated language, glossary fragments, and free text as appropriate.
  • Consider any ancillary benefit information generated by the calculator and consider whether additional issues need to be decided.
  • The calculator must be used anytime a decision addresses SMC and SMC is coded on the rating codesheet, including for confirmed and continued decisions.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.1.i.
SMC Deferrals in VBMS-R

To process SMC deferrals in VBMS-R, refer to the table below.
Stage
Description
1
Establish the SMC issue on the ISSUE MANAGEMENT screen.
2
Click ENTER DECISION to advance to the SMC PARAGRAPH tab (do not make any selections on this tab).
3
Select the SMC CODES tab.
4
Select the DEFERRED ISSUE option from the SUPPLEMENTARY DECISIONS drop down list
5
Click ACCEPT and provide additional information relating to the deferral when prompted.
Reference:  For more information on completing associated deferral action in VBMS, see the VBMS User Guide.

IV.ii.2.H.1.j.
Use of  VA Form 21-2680 in SMC Claims

Medical providers within or outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may complete VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance, to provide evidence that a claimant is in need of aid and attendance (A&A) and/or housebound benefits.
Notes:
  • Statements by medical providers on VA Form 21-2680 which meet the requirements of 38 CFR 3.326(b) and 38 CFR 3.159(a)(1) are acceptable for rating purposes.
  • Statements by medical providers or other clinical evidence contained in the VA Form 21-2680 may be accepted as a claim for increased evaluation for an existing SC disability if worsening of the disability is shown.
  • Although VA Form 21-2680 may be accepted as a prescribed form adequate to claim entitlement to SMC, it is not required to develop a claim for or grant entitlement to SMC.  Additional development for VA Form 21-2680 should not be routinely undertaken when the form is not received with a claim.
Reference:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.1.k.  Definition:  Anatomical Segment

The term anatomical segment as used in 38 CFR 3.350 refers to the separate sections of the body that comprise each anatomical region.  The term anatomical region, as used in 38 CFR 4.55(b), is not synonymous with anatomical segment, as used in 38 CFR 3.350.
The musculoskeletal system within the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities located at 38 CFR 4.71a is divided into anatomical segments which include the
  • shoulder and arm
  • wrist
  • hand
  • lumbosacral and sacroiliac joints (see notes below)
  • thoracolumbar spine
  • cervical spine
  • hip and thigh
  • knee and leg
  • ankle
  • foot
  • skull
  • ribs, and
  • coccyx.
Notes:
  • Per 38 CFR 4.66, the lumbosacral and sacroiliac joints are also considered one anatomical segment for rating purposes although they are not specifically listed as a segment within 38 CFR 4.71a.
  • Note (6) of the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine, included within 38 CFR 4.71a, identifies the thoracolumbar and cervical spine as separate segments.
  • Each extremity includes separate anatomical segments.  For example, the right hand and the left hand are separate anatomical segments.
  • Applying this concept, the anatomical region consisting of the foot and leg, as identified at 38 CFR 4.55(b), includes the following three anatomical segments:  the foot, ankle, and knee and leg.
Example:  A Veteran is SC for amputation of bilateral feet, evaluated as 100-percent disabling.  The Veteran underwent a total knee replacement.  Following the temporary evaluation assigned after knee replacement, the knee is evaluated as 60-percent disabling.  SMC (l) is warranted for the bilateral foot amputation, and SMC (p) is warranted under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) for the knee disability since it is an additional permanent disability independently evaluated as 50 percent or more.  The knee and the foot are separate anatomical segments as is required in 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and (4).  Since the knee disability involves a separate anatomical segment, the SMC (p) may be assigned in spite of the fact that the disabilities are of a common bodily system.

2.  Combining Disabilities When Entitlement to SMC Is at Issue


Introduction

This topic contains information on combining disabilities when entitlement to SMC is at issue, including

Change Date

January 5, 2016

IV.ii.2.H.2.a.  When Multiple Disabilities Should Not Be Evaluated as a Single Disability

Do not rate multiple disabilities as a single disability if there is a possibility of entitlement to

IV.ii.2.H.2.b.  Evaluating a Multisystem Disorder

The assignment of a single evaluation of 100 percent for a multisystem disorder, based on LOU of two extremities, may overlook the disorder’s involvement in other body systems.  This involvement might meet requirements for

IV.ii.2.H.2.c.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving a Multisystem Disorder

Situation:  A Veteran has lost the use of both lower extremities due to SC multiple sclerosis.
Result:  Assign
  • a 100-percent evaluation for the LOU of both lower extremities under hyphenated diagnostic code (DC) 8018-5110, and
  • separate evaluations under the appropriate DCs for the involvement of any other body system so that possible entitlement to a higher level of SMC will not be overlooked.
Coded Conclusion:  Assume the disabilities shown below are all related to multiple sclerosis.
SUBJECT TO COMPENSATION (1.SC)
8018-5110 MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, WITH LOSS OF USE BOTH LOWER EXTREMITIES
100 percent from 06/14/1996.
6516 DYSARTHRIA, DUE TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
30 percent from 06/14/1996.
7332 IMPAIRMENT OF ANAL SPHINCTER CONTROL DUE TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
10 percent from 06/14/1996.
7512 LOSS OF BLADDER CONTROL, MODERATE, DUE TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
10 percent from 06/14/1996.
6016 NYSTAGMUS DUE TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
10 percent from 06/14/1996.
COMBINED EVALUATION FOR COMPENSATION:
100 percent from 06/14/1996.
SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSATION
L-1 Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) and 38 CFR 3.350(b) on account of loss of use of both feet from 06/14/1996.
P-1 Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) at the rate intermediate between 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) and 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) on account of loss of use of both feet with additional disabilities, dysarthria, loss of bladder control, impairment of anal sphincter control and nystagmus independently ratable at 50-percent or more disabling from 06/14/1996.
SMC Coding:  An example of SMC coding is shown in the table below.
EFFECTIVE DATE
BASIC
HOSPITAL
LOSS OF USE
ANAT. LOSS
OTHER LOSS
06/14/1996
18
18
24
00
0

IV.ii.2.H.2.d.  Cases Involving Loss of Anal and Bladder Sphincter Control

Under certain circumstances, LOU of both lower extremities, together with loss of anal and bladder sphincter control, satisfies the requirements of 38 CFR 3.350(e)(2) for entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o).
In such cases, separate ratings for loss of anal and bladder sphincter control are not required.  Use SMC code 55 to award entitlement.
Reference:  For more information on adding an SMC code, see VBMS – R User Guide.

IV.ii.2.H.2.e.  Avoiding Separate SMC Assignments for L/LOU of an Extremity

Do not assign SMC for
  • loss or loss of use (L/LOU) of a leg and L/LOU of the foot of the same leg, or
  • L/LOU of an arm and L/LOU of the hand of the same arm.
If a Veteran has L/LOU of a leg, the L/LOU of the foot of the same leg is subsumed in the level of SMC assigned to the leg.  Similarly, if a Veteran has L/LOU of an arm, the L/LOU of the hand of the same arm is subsumed in the level of SMC assigned to the arm.
Reference:  For more information on avoiding separate assignments for L/LOU of an extremity, see Guillory v. Shinseki, 669 F.3d 1214 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

3.  Hospital Adjustments Under 38 CFR 3.552


Introduction

This topic contains information on hospital adjustments under 38 CFR 3.552, including

Change Date

June 16, 2015

IV.ii.2.H.3.a.  Specifying the Basis of Entitlement Under 38 CFR 3.552 in the Rating Decision

The rating decision must specify the basis of the Veteran’s entitlement to a hospital adjustment in order to ensure the proper application of 38 CFR 3.552.
The SMC allowance for A&A must be discontinued during hospitalization at government expense, unless the need for A&A is due to
  • paraplegia involving
    • paralysis of both lower extremities, together with
    • loss of anal and bladder sphincter control, or
  • Hansen’s disease.
Exception:  The SMC allowance for A&A must be discontinued during hospitalization, regardless of the disability involved, if entitlement is established under
Note:  Regardless of pre-existing paraplegia, SMC is payable at the rate prescribed in 38 U.S.C. 1114(n) to a claimant who is entitled to compensation for bilateral disarticulation of the hips under 38 U.S.C. 1151 per VAOPGCPREC 30-1997.
References:  For more information on entitlement to a higher A&A allowance under

IV.ii.2.H.3.b.  Consequences of an Improperly Assigned SMC Hospital Code

The assignment of an improper SMC hospital code may result in erroneous adjustment of the Veteran’s award upon hospitalization.

IV.ii.2.H.3.c.  Example 1:  Rating Decision With a Properly Assigned SMC Hospital Code

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • a 100-percent disabling heart condition so severe as to require A&A of another person, and
  • bilateral, below-knee amputations.
Result:  Entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(1) is warranted based upon the need for A&A; entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) is also warranted for the bilateral amputations.
Coded Conclusion:  The proper
  • basic SMC code is 51, and
  • SMC hospital code is 19 for SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m).

IV.ii.2.H.3.d.  Example 2:  Rating Decision With a Properly Assigned SMC Hospital Code

Situation:  The Veteran has a
  • 100-percent disabling psychiatric condition that does not require A&A, and
  • 100-percent disabling heart condition that does require A&A.
Result:  Entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) is warranted based upon the need for A&A plus an additional 100-percent disability.
Coded Conclusion:  The proper
  • basic SMC code is 19, and
  • SMC hospital code is 48 for SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(s).

4.  Entitlement to SMC Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k)


Introduction

This topic contains information on entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k), including

Change Date

June 16, 2015

IV.ii.2.H.4.a.  Eligibility Criteria for SMC Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k)

SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) is payable for the following levels of impairment:
  • L/LOU of a creative organ
  • L/LOU of a hand
  • L/LOU of a foot
  • L/LOU of both buttocks
  • deafness of both ears having absence of air and bone conduction
  • complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech
  • blindness in one eye, having light perception only (LPO), and
  • loss of 25-percent or more of tissue from one or both breasts or breast tissue has been subject to radiation treatment.

IV.ii.2.H.4.b.  History of SMC for L/LOU of a Creative Organ

Public Law (PL) 82-427, which went into effect August 1, 1952, provided for the payment of SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) for L/LOU of a creative organ.
38 CFR 3.114(a), which provides instructions for assigning effective dates pursuant to liberalizing law or VA policy, became effective December 1, 1962.  Accordingly, the proper effective date for awarding entitlement to a Veteran who was otherwise eligible for SMC on August 1, 1952, based on L/LOU of a creative organ, is the earlier of the following two dates, but no earlier than December 1, 1962
  • one year before the date VA received the claim, or
  • one year before the date of an administrative determination of entitlement.
Note:  The provisions of 38 CFR 3.114 do not apply to Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD).  Entitlement to SMC(k) should be established based on the date service connection (SC) for FSAD was established.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.4.c.  Awarding SMC for L/LOU of a Creative Organ

Award SMC based on L/LOU of a creative organ, if medical evidence of record shows
  • the acquired absence of one or both testicles, ovaries, or other creative organs
  • a condition of the reproductive tract which results in LOU of a creative organ, such as retrograde ejaculation or spermatozoa dumping into the bladder in a male Veteran
  • the loss of erectile power secondary to a disease process, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, in a male Veteran, or
  • a diagnosis of FSAD.
Note:  SC for prostate cancer does not automatically result in an award of SMC for LOU of a creative organ at the (k) rate unless the prostate cancer was treated by radical prostatectomy.
  • If the Veteran is SC for prostate cancer and the evidence of record includes a surgical report showing a radical prostatectomy was performed, award SMC(k) effective the date the radical prostatectomy was performed.
  • If the Veteran is SC for prostate cancer but the evidence of record doesnot show a radical prostatectomy was performed, clinical evidence of the LOU of a creative organ due to the SC prostate cancer is required to award SMC (k) for LOU of a creative organ due to prostate cancer.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.4.d.  Basis for Considering Entitlement to SMC for L/LOU of a Creative Organ

The issue of entitlement to SMC for L/LOU of a creative organ may be
  • based on a specific claim, or
  • inferred from the evidence of record, such as a VA examination or hospitalization report.
Undertake any development necessary, including submission of a request for a special examination, if there is a reasonable probability of entitlement.
Note:
  • There is no bar to the payment of compensation or establishment of SC for anatomical loss of a creative organ, when a non-service-connected (NSC) LOU of a creative organ existed prior to anatomical loss resulting from service.
  • The successful use of medication or prosthetic implant to restore erectile ability does not preclude the award of SMC for LOU if the Veteran is unable to complete the act of procreation.
References:  For more information on
  • providing SMC for anatomical loss of a creative organ when a pre-existing NSC functional loss was present, see VAOPGCPREC 5-1989, and
  • restoring SMC for anatomical loss of a creative organ when eligibility was originally found to have existed, but was later found not to exist due to suffering a complete loss of procreative power prior to service through surgical removal of certain other organs, see VAOPGCPREC 93-1990.

IV.ii.2.H.4.e.  Awarding SMC for LOU of a Hand or Foot

Award SMC for LOU of a hand or a foot when function is no better than if the hand or foot were amputated and replaced by prosthesis.
When considering LOU, determine whether the following activities could be accomplished equally well by a prosthesis
  • grasping or manipulation (for a hand), and
  • balancing, propulsion, or ambulation (for a foot).
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.4.f.  Other Medical Indications of LOU of the Foot

Other medical indications of LOU of the foot include
  • extremely unfavorable complete ankylosis of the knee
  • complete ankylosis of two major joints of a lower extremity
  • shortening of the lower extremity three and one-half inches or more, and
  • complete paralysis of the external popliteal (common peroneal) nerve and consequent foot drop, accompanied by characteristic organic changes.

IV.ii.2.H.4.g.  Awarding SMC for LOU of Both Buttocks

Award SMC for LOU of both buttocks when there is severe damage by disease or injury to muscle group XVII (the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus), bilaterally, which renders the Veteran unable to complete the following actions
  • rise from a seated or stooped position, and
  • maintain postural stability.
Note:  Assistance performing the physical actions listed above includes the use of the person’s own hands or arms and a special appliance for postural stability.
Reference:  For more information on LOU of the buttocks, see 38 CFR 3.350(a)(3).

IV.ii.2.H.4.h.  Awarding SMC for Deafness

Award SMC for deafness of both ears, having absence of air and bone conduction, if the SC bilateral hearing loss warrants a 100-percent evaluation under the evaluation criteria in 38 CFR 4.85 and 38 CFR 4.86 for hearing impairment.
A Veteran with bilateral SC hearing impairment, numerically designated as XI, is entitled to SMC, regardless of whether or not measurable hearing impairment was noted on entrance into service and SC was awarded based on aggravation of a pre-existing disability.
Notes:
  • A numeric designation of hearing impairment of
    • XI in both ears entitles the Veteran to SMC, and
    • less than XI in either ear precludes entitlement to SMC.
  • Base disability ratings only on an examination conducted in a VA-authorized audiology clinic using current testing criteria.
  • Hearing loss justifying an award of SMC must be permanent in nature.

IV.ii.2.H.4.i.  Awarding SMC for Complete Organic Aphonia

Award SMC for complete organic aphonia if a disability of the organs of speech exists that constantly precludes communication by speech and
  • the Veteran is unable to communicate by voice or whisper through the normal organs of speech, and
  • the disability is constant and of organic origin.
Notes:
  • Complete organic aphonia most frequently results from loss or paralysis of an organ of speech such as the tongue or larynx.
  • The use of other organs of the body or prosthetic devices to provide voice sounds does not preclude entitlement to SMC.
  • The assignment of total schedular ratings under 38 CFR 4.97, DCs 6518, 6519, and 6520, and 38 CFR 4.114, DC 7202, generally entitles the Veteran to SMC.

IV.ii.2.H.4.j.  Awarding SMC for LOU or Blindness of One Eye

Award SMC for LOU or blindness of one eye, having LPO, when the Veteran is unable to
  • recognize test letters at one foot, and
  • recognize objects, hand movements, or count fingers at a distance of three feet.
Note:  SMC is also payable for the anatomical loss of an eye.

IV.ii.2.H.4.k.  Awarding SMC for Loss of Breast Tissue

Entitlement to SMC for loss of tissue from one or both breasts is limited to female Veterans.
PL 107-330, enacted December 6, 2002, provides for the payment of SMC
  • for loss of 25-percent or more of the tissue from a single breast or both breasts in combination (including loss by mastectomy or partial mastectomy), or
  • when breast tissue has been subjected to radiation treatment.
Note:  Before enactment of PL 107-330, entitlement to SMC existed only upon complete surgical removal of breast tissue (or the equivalent loss of breast tissue due to injury), which included radical mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, and simple (or total) mastectomy.
Reference:  For more information on entitlement to SMC for loss of breast tissue, see 38 CFR 4.116.

5.  SMC for Blindness With Other Disabilities Affecting Hearing and the Extremities


Introduction

This topic contains information on SMC for blindness with other disabilities affecting hearing and the extremities, including

Change Date

June 16, 2015

IV.ii.2.H.5.a.  Basic Criteria for Entitlement to SMC (l)

The SMC rate payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) is authorized for the following SC disabilities:
  • anatomical L/LOU of both feet
  • anatomical L/LOU of one hand and one foot
  • blindness in both eyes with visual acuity of 5/200 or less
  • being permanently bedridden, or
  • being so helpless as to be in need of the regular A&A of another person.

IV.ii.2.H.5.b.  Basic Criteria for Entitlement to SMC (m)

The SMC rate payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) is authorized for the following disabilities
  • anatomical L/LOU of both hands
  • anatomical L/LOU of both legs at a level, or with complications, preventing natural knee action with prostheses in place
  • anatomical L/LOU of one arm and one leg preventing natural elbow and knee action with prostheses in place, due to the level of involvement or with complications
  • blindness in both eyes having LPO, or
  • blindness in both eyes leaving the Veteran so significantly disabled as to be in need of regular A&A.

IV.ii.2.H.5.c.  General Criteria for Entitlement to SMC for Blindness With Hearing Loss or L/LOU of an Extremity

Additional SMC is payable to Veterans with bilateral blindness who are already entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) through (n) who also have varying degrees of SC hearing loss or SC L/LOU of an extremity.

IV.ii.2.H.5.d.  SMC for Bilateral Deafness Evaluated as 60 Percent or More and Bilateral Visual Acuity of 20/200 or Less

A Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C.1114(o) if the Veteran has a combination of
  • bilateral deafness rated at 60 percent or more (and the hearing loss in either ear is SC), and
  • SC blindness with bilateral visual acuity of 20/200 (6/60) or less.
Note:  Before the enactment of PL 110-157 on December 26, 2007, SC blindness with bilateral visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) or less was required for entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C.1114(o).

IV.ii.2.H.5.e.  SMC for Total SC Deafness in One Ear and Bilateral Blindness

A Veteran with total SC deafness in one ear, such as that numerically designated as “XI,” and SC blindness with

IV.ii.2.H.5.f. Example 1:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Total SC Deafness in One Ear and Bilateral Blindness

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • bilateral SC blindness with LPO, and
  • total SC hearing loss in the left ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  Since the Veteran has LPO bilaterally, and total SC loss of hearing in the left ear, entitlement to SMC is warranted under
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is OB-2.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 37-37-21-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.g.  Example 2:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Total SC Deafness in One Ear and Bilateral Blindness

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • bilateral SC blindness with
    • no light perception (NLP) in the left eye, and
    • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) in the right eye
  • total SC hearing loss in the left ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) for the degree of bilateral blindness alone, but an additional one-half step in the level of SMC (“m½”) is warranted, based on the degree of hearing loss, under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(iv).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is PB-1.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 20-20-21-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.h.  SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 10- or 20-Percent Disabling

A Veteran is entitled to an additional one-half step in the level of SMC under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(v) if he/she has
  • SC bilateral blindness with LPO or less
  • bilateral hearing loss, considered 10-or 20-percent disabling, and
  • SC hearing loss in at least one ear.
Note:  If visual acuity in either of the eyes is better than LPO, entitlement to the additional one-half step does not exist.

IV.ii.2.H.5.i.  Example 1:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 10- or 20-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • anatomical loss of the left eye
  • LPO in the right eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss, evaluated as 20-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The appropriate level of SMC for the degree of blindness alone is “m½.”  However, an additional one-half step is warranted based on the degree of hearing loss, making the Veteran entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(n).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is PB-2.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 21-21-11-11-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.j.  Example 2: Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 10- or 20-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • anatomical loss of the left eye
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) in the right eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss, evaluated as 20-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  Since visual acuity in the right eye is better than LPO, do not apply 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(v).  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is MB-2.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 19-19-11-11-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.k.  SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 30-Percent Disabling

A Veteran is entitled to an additional full step in the level of SMC, not to exceed that provided by 38 U.S.C. 1114(o) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vi), if he/she has
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) or less, bilaterally
  • bilateral hearing loss, considered 30-percent disabling, and
  • SC hearing loss in one ear.

IV.ii.2.H.5.l.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 30-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • anatomical loss of the left eye
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) in the right eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss evaluated as 30-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under the provisions of 38 U.S.C. 1114(m)for the degree of blindness alone.  However, an additional full step is warranted under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vi), thereby entitling the Veteran to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(n).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is PB-3.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 21-21-11-11-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.m.  SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 40-Percent Disabling

A Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o) and 38 CFR 3.350(e)(1)(iv) if he/she has
  • blindness with LPO or less in both eyes, and
  • bilateral hearing loss, considered at least 40-percent disabling, or SC hearing loss in at least one ear.
Note:  If bilateral blindness is present, but visual acuity in either eye is better than LPO, the Veteran is entitled to an additional full step only in the level of SMC, not to exceed that provided by 38 U.S.C. 1114(o), per 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vi).

IV.ii.2.H.5.n.  Example 1:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 40-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • NLP in the right eye
  • LPO in the left eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss evaluated as 40-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The appropriate level of SMC for the degree of bilateral blindness alone is “m ½.”  However, apply 38 CFR 3.350(e)(1)(iv) because of the coexisting hearing loss.  The Veteran is accordingly entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is OB-2.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 37-37-21-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.o.  Example 2: Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 40-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • NLP in the right eye
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) in the left eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss, evaluated as 40-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) for the degree of bilateral blindness alone.  However, because of the degree of hearing loss present, increase the level of SMC by a full step under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vi) and award SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(n).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is PB-3.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 21-21-21-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.p. SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 60-Percent Disabling

A Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o) and 38 CFR 3.350(e)(1)(iii) if he/she has
  • visual acuity of 20/200 (6/60), bilaterally
  • visual acuity of 20/200 (6/60) in one eye and LPO or less in the other eye LPO
  • bilateral hearing loss, considered at least 60-percent disabling, and
  • SC hearing loss in one ear.

IV.ii.2.H.5.q.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With Bilateral Hearing Loss Considered 60-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • LPO in the right eye
  • visual acuity of 20/200 (6/60) in the left eye
  • SC bilateral hearing loss, evaluated as 60-percent disabling
  • no total hearing loss in either ear
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling, and
  • no entitlement to A&A.
Result:  Due to the coexisting blindness and hearing loss, the Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o) and 38 CFR 3.350(e)(1)(iii).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is OB-1.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 37-37-21-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.r.   SMC for Bilateral Blindness With L/LOU of an Extremity Considered at Least 50-Percent Disabling

The provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vii)(A) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vii)(B) allow for an additional full step of SMC, not to exceed entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o), if the Veteran has
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) or less, bilaterally, and
  • SC L/LOU of an upper or lower extremity, which by itself or in combination with another compensable disability is considered at least 50-percent disabling.
Note:  Payment of this additional full step of SMC is in addition to the SMC payable under 38 CFR 3.350(a).

IV.ii.2.H.5.s.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With L/LOU of an Extremity Considered at Least 50-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • SC bilateral blindness with visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60)
  • SC LOU of the dominant hand evaluated as 50-percent disabling
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, and
  • no separate and distinct disability evaluated as 50-percent disabling.
Result:  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) for the degree of blindness alone.  The Veteran is also entitled to an additional full step of SMC, plus SMC under 38 CFR 3.350(a), for LOU of the right hand.  Accordingly, the appropriate level of SMC is “m+k.”
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is PB-4.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 25-25-35-00-0.

IV.ii.2.H.5.t.  SMC for Bilateral Blindness With L/LOU of a Lower Extremity Considered Less Than 50-Percent Disabling

A Veteran is entitled to an additional one-half step of SMC under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vii)(C) if he/she has
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60) or less, bilaterally
  • L/LOU of a foot, considered less than 50-percent disabling, and
  • no other compensable SC disability.
Note:  The level of SMC may not exceed that provided by 38 U.S.C. 1114(o).

IV.ii.2.H.5.u.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving SMC for Bilateral Blindness With L/LOU of a Lower Extremity Considered Less Than 50-Percent Disabling

Situation:  The Veteran has
  • visual acuity of 5/200 (1.5/60), bilaterally
  • a below-the-knee amputation of the right foot evaluated as 40-percent disabling, and
  • no other compensable disabilities.
Result:  The Veteran is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) based on the degree of blindness alone.  The Veteran is also entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) for loss of the right foot.  The appropriate level of SMC, therefore, is “l+k.”  Award an additional one-half step of SMC (l½ +k) under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(2)(vii)(C).
Coded Conclusion:
  • The appropriate SMC paragraph code is P B-6.
  • The appropriate SMC coding is 24-24-21-13-0.
Note:  The SMC Calculator will ask whether the Veteran was on active duty after September 11, 2001.  Answering Yes to that question prompts additional questions regarding the Veteran’s ability to ambulate with and without the use of ambulation aides.  Answering No to the question of whether the Veteran was on active duty after September 11, 2001, does not prompt any additional questions.  Depending on the answers provided to the additional prompts, the resulting SMC paragraph code and coding may differ from the example provided.

6.  SMC for Additional 50- and 100-Percent Evaluations Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4)


Introduction

This topic contains information on SMC for additional 50- and 100-percent evaluations under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4),including information on

Change Date

June 7, 2018

IV.ii.2.H.6.a.  Proper Application of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4)

Apply the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) or 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4), whichever is appropriate, only once in a rating decision.
Important:  Concurrent entitlement to SMC under both 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4) is prohibited.

IV.ii.2.H.6.b.  SMC Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3)

A Veteran entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) through (n) is entitled to the next higher intermediate rate of SMC under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) if he/she has an additional single permanent disability, or a combination of disabilities, that is independently evaluated as 50-percent or more disabling.

IV.ii.2.H.6.c.  SMC Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4)

A Veteran who is entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) through (n) is entitled to the next higher statutory rate of SMC under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4) if he/she has an additional single permanent disability that is independently evaluated as 100-percent disabling, apart from any consideration of individual unemployability (IU).
Note:  Per Bradley v. Peake, 22 Vet.App. 280 (2008), do not define “single disability” in accordance with 38 CFR 4.16, as this regulation applies only to total disability based on IU.

IV.ii.2.H.6.d. Permanence Requirement for SMC Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4)

Disability evaluations used to support entitlement under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4) must be permanent with no future review examination scheduled.

IV.ii.2.H.6.e.  Example 1:  Rating Decision Involving SMC  Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3)

Situation:  The Veteran has SC disabilities as shown below and qualifies for
  • SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) on account of the anatomical loss of both hands, and
  • two disabilities (blindness of one eye, having LPO, and loss of a creative organ) that each qualify for SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k).
Result:  As provided in 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3), in addition to and independent of the disability for which SMC is payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m), the following permanent disabilities exist that are independently ratable as 50-percent disabling
  • blindness of the right eye, having LPO, evaluated as 30-percent disabling, and
  • loss of both testes, evaluated as 30-percent disabling.
Accordingly, the requirements of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) are met for the rate intermediate between 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 U.S.C. 1114(n), plus rates under38 U.S.C. 1114(k).
Coded Conclusion:
5106  AMPUTATION, BOTH HANDS AT WRIST
100 percent from 02/01/2010.
6064  BLINDNESS, RIGHT EYE, LIGHT PERCEPTION ONLY; LEFT 20/20
30 percent from 02/01/2010.
7524 REMOVAL OF BOTH TESTES
30 percent from 02/01/2010.
COMBINED EVALUATION FOR COMPENSATION:
100 percent from 02/01/2010.
K-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) and 38 CFR 3.350(a) on account of blindness of one eye, having light perception only, from 02/01/2010.
K-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) and 38 CFR 3.350(a) on account of anatomical loss of a creative organ from 02/01/2010.
M-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 CFR 3.350(c) on account of anatomical loss of both hands from 02/01/2010.
P-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) at the rate intermediate between 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 U.S.C. 1114(n) on account of anatomical loss of both hands with additional disabilities of blindness of the right eye, having light perception only, and removal of both testes, independently ratable as 50-percent disabling or more from 02/01/2010.
Note:  The appropriate SMC coding is 31-31-11-23-1.

IV.ii.2.H.6.f.  Example 2:  Rating Decision Involving SMC Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4)

Situation:  The Veteran has anatomical loss of both lower extremities that meets the requirements for SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and a 100 percent SC evaluation for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is completely independent of the anatomical loss of both lower extremities.
Result:  As provided in 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4), the Veteran is entitled to the next higher rate of SMC, 38 U.S.C. 1114(n), because of the additional, single, permanent disability that is independently ratable as 100-percent disabling.
Coded Conclusion:
SUBJECT TO COMPENSATION (1. SC)
5107  ANATOMICAL LOSS OF BOTH LOWER EXTREMITIES ABOVE THE KNEES
100 percent from 12/01/2010.
9411  POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
100 percent from 12/01/2010.
COMBINED EVALUATION FOR COMPENSATION:
100 percent from 12/01/2010.
SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSATION
M-2  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 CFR 3.350(c) from 12/01/2010 on account of anatomical loss of one leg at a level or with complications preventing natural knee action with prosthesis in place, and loss of use of the other leg at a level with complications preventing natural knee action with prosthesis in place.
P-2  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114 (p) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4) equal to 38 U.S.C. 1114 (n) from 12/01/2010 on account of entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) with additional disability, posttraumatic stress disorder, independently ratable as 100-percent disabling.
The appropriate SMC coding is shown in the table below.
EFFECTIVE DATE
BASIC
HOSPITAL
LOSS OF USE
ANAT. LOSS
OTHER LOSS
12/01/2010
21
21
00
24
0

 

7.  Entitlement to Additional SMC for L/LOU of Three Extremities Under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(5)


Introduction

This topic contains information on additional SMC for L/LOU of three extremities under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(5), including

Change Date

September 29, 2006

IV.ii.2.H.7.a.  Considering L/LOU of Three Extremities

A Veteran with L/LOU of three extremities is entitled to additional SMC under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(5).
To determine the correct rate of SMC payable to a Veteran with the requisite degree of disability,
Notes:
  • The term “next higher rate” is intended to include the intermediate rates authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p).
  • The total monthly amount payable (minus any additional amount for dependents) must not exceed the rate payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p).

IV.ii.2.H.7.b.  Example:  Rating Decision Involving Additional SMC for L/LOU of Three Extremities

Situation:  The Veteran has the SC disabilities shown below and qualifies for SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) on account of the anatomical loss of both hands.  Entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k) for an amputation of the left foot also exists.  In addition, the Veteran is entitled to an additional one-half step in the level of SMC, under 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3), due to the separate disabilities ratable as 50-percent or more disabling.
Result:  The rate of SMC payable without regard to 38 CFR 3.350(f)(5) is “m½ +k.”  Elevate this rate to the next higher rate authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1114(l) through (n), without loss of entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(k).  Accordingly, the rate of SMC payable in this case is “n+k.”
Coded Conclusion:
SUBJECT TO COMPENSATION (1. SC)
5106  AMPUTATION, BOTH HANDS AT WRIST
100 percent from 06/01/1996.
5165  AMPUTATION, LEFT FOOT, BELOW KNEE
40 percent from 06/01/1996.
7101  HYPERTENSION
20 percent from 06/01/1996.
COMBINED EVALUATION FOR COMPENSATION:
100 percent from 06/01/1996.
SPECIAL MONTHLY COMPENSATION
K-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114 (k) and 38 CFR 3.350(a) on account of anatomical loss of one foot from 06/01/1996.
M-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 CFR 3.350(c) on account of anatomical loss of both hands from 06/01/1996.
P-1  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(3) at the rate intermediate between 38 U.S.C. 1114(m) and 38 U.S.C. 1114(n) on account of anatomical loss of both hands with additional disabilities of amputation of the left foot and hypertension independently ratable as 50-percent or more disabling from 06/01/1996.
P-3  Entitled to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(p) and 38 CFR 3.350(f)(5) at the next higher rate or intermediate rate of 38 U.S.C. 1114(n) due to loss of three extremities from 06/01/1996.
The appropriate SMC coding is shown in the table below.
EFFECTIVE DATE
BASIC
HOSPITAL
LOSS OF USE
ANAT. LOSS
OTHER LOSS
06/01/1996
27
27
00
32
0

8.  Entitlement to SMC Based on the Need for A&A


Introduction

This topic contains information on entitlement to SMC based on a demonstrated need for the A&A of another person, including

Change Date

October 20, 2017

IV.ii.2.H.8.a.  Criteria for Entitlement to A&A Under 38 CFR 3.352(a)

The criteria for entitlement to A&A, which appear in 38 CFR 3.352(a), require that the Veteran be so helpless due to physical or mental incapacity as a result of SC disability that he/she requires the aid of another person to perform the personal functions required in everyday living.
Reference:  For more information on considering permanence in A&A determinations, see M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.H.8.d.

IV.ii.2.H.8.b.  Considering the Level of Disability Required for Entitlement to A&A

A single disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling under a schedular evaluation is generally a prerequisite for entitlement to A&A.  Any lesser disability would be incompatible with the requirements of 38 CFR 3.352(a).
Explanation:  Both the nature of the impairment (being in need of regular A&A) and the compensation indicate that a greater level of disability is required for entitlement to the additional allowance for A&A than for
  • entitlement to SMC at the housebound rate, or
  • a 100-percent schedular evaluation.
Important:
  • The single disability rated as totally disabling must be the sole or partial cause of the need for A&A.
  • 38 CFR 4.16 applies only to IU determinations.  It does not permit decision makers to apply 38 CFR 4.16 guidelines on what constitutes a single disability to A&A determinations.
  • Temporary 100-percent evaluations under 38 CFR 4.284.29, and 4.30qualify for the single schedular evaluation needed for entitlement to A&A.  However, grants of entitlement to A&A are not routine in these circumstances.
  • To establish entitlement to SMC (t), the need for A&A must be due to traumatic brain injury (TBI) or multiple disabilities due to TBI that combine to a 100-percent evaluation.
Exception:  Claims processed under the relaxed standard per the October 2014 Veterans Service Center Manager Bulletin (from October 16, 2014 through December 18, 2015) will not be affected.
Note:  The following represent a “single disability” for purposes of establishing entitlement to SMC (l):
  • when evaluations of facets or multisystem effects of a single disease entity (including, but not limited to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or diabetes mellitus) combine to 100 percent without regard to other conditions and A&A is required as a result of SC disability.  Multisystem diseases are rated under a primary DC or by separate ratings of residuals under multiple DCs when more advantageous to the claimant, or
  • when evaluations of primary and secondary SC disabilities combine to 100 percent and A&A is required as a result of SC disability.
Example 1:  A Veteran is SC for Parkinson’s disease and has multiple disabilities related to the disease that result in a combined 100-percent schedular evaluation.  If the evidence shows that the disabilities related to the disease are so severe that the Veteran requires A&A, entitlement to SMC (l) must be awarded.
Example 2:  A Veteran is SC for amputation of right leg at the hip at 90-percent disabling.  Pursuant to 38 CFR 3.310(c),  SC is subsequently established for ischemic heart disease secondary to the amputation of right leg evaluated as 60-percent disabling.  If the evidence shows the Veteran requires A&A due to the heart condition and right leg amputation, entitlement to SMC (l) is warranted.
References:  For more information on considering entitlement to SMC based on need for A&A

IV.ii.2.H.8.c.  Considering Entitlement to A&A When the Evaluation for a Single Disability Is Less Than 100 Percent

Use the table below when
  • entitlement to A&A is at issue, and
  • a Veteran’s evaluation for a single disability is less than 100 percent.
Important:  The evidence in the case must include the report from a current examination or its equivalent.
If the Veteran does not have …
And …
Then …
a single disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling, but the combined disability evaluation is 100 percent (based on the disease processes noted in M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.H.8.b)
the disability is so severe as to demonstrate a need for A&A
award A&A.
a single disability evaluated as 100 percent (regardless of the combination)
the disability is so severe as to demonstrate the need for A&A
refer the case to Compensation Service (211B) for an advisory opinion requesting consideration for entitlement to A&A on an extra-schedular basis.
Reference:  For more information on requesting an advisory opinion, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 1.A.2.
a single disability evaluated as 100 percent (regardless of the combination)
the disability does notdemonstrate a need for A&A
dispose of the issue by explaining how this conclusion was reached in the Narrative of the rating decision.
a single disability evaluated as 100 percent (regardless of the combination)
the disability does notdemonstrate a need for A&A, but shows that the disability has worsened
order an examination or render a decision for increased evaluation based on the evidence of record if adequate for rating purposes.

IV.ii.2.H.8.d.  ConsideringPermanence When Evaluating Claims for A&A

Entitlement to SMC as discussed in 38 CFR 3.352(a) may be established based on the need for the regular A&A of another person without regard to whether such need is permanent.
Reference:  For more information on considering permanence when evaluating A&A, see VAOPGCPREC 21-1994.

IV.ii.2.H.8.e.  Considering Entitlement to A&A as an Inferred Issue

If a single disability is evaluated as 100-percent disabling, consider entitlement to A&A or the housebound rate as an inferred issue only if the evidence shows that the benefit may be awarded.  If the evidence does not show entitlement to SMC at the A&A or housebound rate, do not raise either issue merely to deny it.

IV.ii.2.H.8.f.  Importance of Reasoning in Awarding SMC Under 38 U.S.C 1114(l) When Considering Entitlement to A&A Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o)

Make determinations of entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) on the basis of need of regular A&A in light of the criteria contained in 38 CFR 3.352(a).  Fully explain the reasoning in the Narrative of the rating decision.
Notes:
  • The need to explain the reasoning is especially important in situations in which, under 38 CFR 3.350(c), the rate under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) based on the need for A&A is to be used as one of the conditions that entitles the claimant to two or more of the rates (no condition being considered twice) that are provided in 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) through (n) for the purpose of establishing entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o).
  • Base the determination of need for A&A on separate and distinct disabilities if the rate under 38 U.S.C. 1114(1) on account of need for A&A is used to establish entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o).
Example:  If a Veteran has LOU of both feet and is also being considered for the maximum rate under 38 U.S.C. 1114(o) because of his/her need for A&A, the need for A&A must be due to SC disabilities, completely independent of the LOU of both feet.  When determining whether the Veteran needs A&A, disregard the disabling effects of the LOU of both feet.  Show the need for A&A as due to a separate SC disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling.

IV.ii.2.H.8.g.  Coding the Rating Decision to Reflect Entitlement to A&A or Housebound

Show entitlement to SMC, based on the need for A&A or evidence showing the Veteran is housebound, by
  • using the appropriate narrative rating code on the Codesheet, immediately following statement of the combined degree of disability, and
  • entering the necessary SMC codes in the data table.
Reference:  For more information on proper SMC coding to ensure the Veteran’s rate is correctly adjusted during hospitalization, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 6.C.

IV.ii.2.H.8.h.  Denying Entitlement to A&A

If the Veteran or representative specifically claimed entitlement to A&A but the evidence does not support an award of A&A, dispose of the issue by explaining the reasons and bases of the decision to deny A&A in the Narrative of the rating decision.
Notes:
  • When A&A and/or housebound are not specifically claimed, do not infer entitlement to A&A or housebound SMC rates to deny the benefit(s).
  • When VA Form 21-2680 is received, follow the procedures at M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.B.1.g to determine which issues must be addressed in a rating.
  • A&A should not be denied if evidence indicates that an SC disability worsened, which is alleged or reasonably raised as a contributing factor to A&A, until a decision is rendered concerning the evaluation for the SC disability.

IV.ii.2.H.8.i.  Entitlement to A&A Under the Provisions of PL 96-128

PL 96-128 amended 38 U.S.C. 1114(r) concerning the awarding of A&A in cases where the SMC level is “n½ +k,” so that the SC disabilities used to establish entitlement to SMC at this level may also be used to establish entitlement to A&A if factual need is shown.
Under PL 96-128, entitlement to SMC under
Note:  Prior to enactment of PL 96-12, a Veteran had to be entitled to SMC under38 U.S.C. 1114(o) in order to establish entitlement to SMC under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(1) and 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2).

IV.ii.2.H.8.j.  Drafting and Coding the Rating Decision Awarding Entitlement to A&A Under PL 96-128

If entitlement to A&A is established under the provisions of PL 96-128, then
  • cite relevant evidence and information in the Narrative to fully justify awarding or denying A&A, and
  • use SMC code 43 or 44 in higher level care claims.
Note:  Pay the rate allowed for SMC at the “n½ +k” level, plus the additional amount allowed under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(1) or 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2), whichever is appropriate.
Reference:  For more information on entitlement to a higher A&A allowance under38 U.S.C. 1114(r), see M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.H.9.

 

9.  Entitlement to a Higher A&A Allowance Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2)


Introduction

This topic contains information on the statutory provisions for a higher A&A allowance, including information on

Change Date

October 27, 2016

IV.ii.2.H.9.a.  Entitlement to a Higher A&A Allowance Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2)

A Veteran entitled to the A&A allowance under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(1) is entitled to receive, in lieu of that allowance, a higher A&A allowance under 38 U.S.C 1114(r)(2) if the Veteran is found to be in need of, and receiving, a higher level of care.

IV.ii.2.H.9.b.  When to Award a Higher A&A Allowance Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2)

Award the higher A&A allowance under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2) only when the
  • need is clearly established, and
  • the amount of skilled service required by the Veteran is substantial.
Base eligibility to the higher allowance on medical certification that the Veteran meets the criteria set forth in 38 CFR 3.352(b).
Note:  Entitlement to the higher A&A allowance may be awarded when an otherwise eligible Veteran is receiving residential or nursing-home care in an institution at the Veteran’s own expense.  If such skilled service is provided at VA expense, this award may be subject to reduction under 38 CFR 3.552(b)(2).
Reference:  For more information on entitlement to a higher A&A allowance when the Veteran is receiving residential or nursing-home care in an institution see

IV.ii.2.H.9.c.  Evidentiary Considerations for Higher Level of Care

To establish entitlement to a higher A&A allowance, the evidence of record must indicate
  • an ongoing need for skilled personal care and,
  • in the absence of such care, the Veteran would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care.
Note:  Entitlement may be established by evidence which shows the
  • conditions justifying the need for this level of care
  • nature, extent, and frequency of the services provided, and
  • nature and extent of the supervision being provided, if the services are actually provided by a nonprofessional.

IV.ii.2.H.9.d.  Processing Claims for Entitlement to a Higher A&A Allowance Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2)

Follow the steps in the table below to process claims for entitlement to a higher A&A allowance under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2).
Step
Action
1
Does the claim include evidence showing that the Veteran
  • requires ongoing daily skilled care, and
  • in the absence of such care, would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care?
  • If yes, award entitlement to the higher A&A allowance under38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2).
  • If no, go to Step 2.
2
Perform any necessary development, including requesting an immediate examination from the Veterans Health Administration.
Important:  If an examination is necessary, the request should ask the examiner to state whether the Veteran
  • requires ongoing daily skilled personal care, and
  • in the absence of such care, would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care.
Note:  PL 103-446 removed the requirement for VA examination when private evidence is adequate to evaluate any claim for benefits administered under Chapter 11 of 38 USC, which includes entitlement under 38 U.S.C 1114.  This PL was implemented by regulatory change revising 38 CFR 3.352(b) on August 25, 1995, to remove the requirement for VA examination to evaluate claims for entitlement to SMC (r)(2).  PL 103-446 and the resulting implementing regulatory change supersede the language still included at 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2) that indicates VA examination is required.
3
Does the evidence of record, including any examination report(s), show an ongoing need for skilled personal care and, in the absence of such care, the Veteran would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care?
  • If yes, award entitlement to the higher A&A allowance under38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2).
  • If no, prepare a rating decision, denying the claim.

IV.ii.2.H.9.e.  Possible Hospitalization Adjustment Under 38 CFR 3.552(b)(2)

The A&A allowance, including that payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(r)(2), is subject to possible hospitalization adjustment, or reduction, under 38 CFR 3.552(b)(2).

10.  Entitlement to Housebound Benefits


Introduction

This topic contains information about entitlement to housebound benefits, including

Change Date

October 27, 2016

IV.ii.2.H.10.a.  Statutory Entitlement to Housebound Benefits

The housebound benefit or SMC (s) is payable under 38 U.S.C. 1114(s) (38 CFR 3.350(i)) to a Veteran who has a single, SC disability evaluated as totally disabling, and
  • has an additional SC disability, or combination of disabilities, independently evaluated as 60-percent or more disabling, or
  • is permanently housebound due to SC disability.
If the Veteran is entitled to housebound benefits by statute (without demonstrating need, under 38 U.S.C. 1114(s)), the additional disability(ies), evaluated as 60-percent or more disabling, must
  • be separate and distinct from the single disability evaluated as totally disabling, and
  • involve separate anatomical segments or body systems.
Notes:
  • The principles regarding avoidance of pyramiding contained in 38 CFR 4.14 are applicable.
  • Within these limits, the fact that the single disability, evaluated as totally disabling, and additional disability(ies), independently evaluated as 60-percent or more disabling, share a common etiology, does not preclude entitlement.
  • In determining the eligibility for SMC benefits pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 1114(s), an erroneous disability evaluation that is protected by the 20-year rule under 38 CFR 3.951(b) must be used in calculating the total percentage of disability to establish eligibility as indicated inVAOPGCPREC 16-1989.

IV.ii.2.H.10.b.  Defining a Single Disability for Housebound Purposes

A single disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling under a schedular evaluation is generally a prerequisite for entitlement to housebound benefits.
Exception:  A total disability evaluation based on IU, which is in turn awarded based on one disability, satisfies the regulatory requirement of “a single SC disability rated as 100 percent” for the purposes of awarding SMC housebound benefits under 38 CFR 3.350(i).
Important:  A total rating based on IU when awarded for multiple disorders treated as one disability under the five options listed in 38 CFR 4.16(a) does not satisfy the regulatory requirement under 38 CFR 3.350(i) of, “a single SC disability rated as 100 percent.”
Example – IU award based on a single disability:  A Veteran is in receipt of IU based solely on depression evaluated as 70-percent disabling.  Subsequently SC is granted for coronary artery disease (CAD) and a 60-percent evaluation is assigned.  SMC (s) at the statutory housebound rate is awarded.
Analysis:  The Veteran in this instance would be entitled to the statutory SMC housebound rate. Under Bradley v. Peake, 22 Vet.App. 280 (2008), awarding IU based on the single disability of depression is a single disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling for purposes of SMC (s) entitlement.  CAD is an additional disability evaluated as at least 60-percent disabling.
Example – IU award based on multiple disabilities:  A Veteran is in receipt of IU based on two SC disabilities:– ankylosis of the right shoulder evaluated as 50-percent disabling and residuals of a left radius fracture evaluated as 20-percent disabling.  Both disabilities are due to a motor vehicle accident (MVA) that happened during the Veteran’s active duty service.  He is awarded IU based on the disabilities caused by the MVA.  The Veteran’s separate issue of CAD is later SC and evaluated as 60-percent disabling.  The CAD, by itself, does not render the Veteran unemployable.  SMC (s) at the statutory housebound rate is not awarded.
Analysis:  The Veteran in this instance would not be entitled to SMC at the statutory housebound rate.  There is no single disability evaluated as totally disabling for the purposes of entitlement to SMC.  Although the evaluations for the MVA injuries to the shoulder and left radius are considered to be a single disability for purposes of IU entitlement, they do not represent a single disability evaluated at 100-percent disabling for purpose of awarding SMC at the statutory housebound rate.
Reference:  For more information on the single 100-percent disability requirement for SMC (s), see

IV.ii.2.H.10.c. Extraschedular Consideration in Housebound Claims Involving IU

When SMC at the statutory housebound rate is established based on a single condition that is totally disabling due to IU

  • the single disability must meet the schedular criteria for entitlement to IU defined in 38 CFR 4.16(a) without regard to the other SC disabilities, or
  • an extraschedular determination under 38 CFR 4.16(b) must be made with a finding that the single disability is so disabling as to result in IU.
When the evidence of record establishes potential entitlement to SMC at the statutory housebound rate due to a single disability resulting in IU status but the disability does not, by itself, meet the schedular criteria to establish IU entitlement, forward the case to Compensation Service for an extraschedular IU determination as directed in 38 CFR 4.16(b) for the purpose of deciding entitlement to SMC at the statutory housebound rate.
Example:  A Veteran is SC for migraine headaches evaluated as 50-percent disabling and for multiple orthopedic conditions that combine for an additional 60-percent evaluation.  The evidence shows that the migraine headaches prevent gainful employment.  Although the criteria to grant entitlement to IU have been met as there are multiple disabilities that combine to 70 percent with one that is at least 40-percent disabling, entitlement to SMC based on statutory housebound status requires an extraschedular determination since the headaches, by themselves, do not meet the schedular criteria for the grant of IU.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.2.H.10.d.  Temporary Total Ratings Used to Award SMC (s)

Temporary evaluations of 100 percent under 38 CFR 4.2838 CFR 4.29, and 38 CFR 4.30 of the Rating Schedule may be used as a basis for awarding SMC at the housebound rate.
Example:  A Veteran SC for a knee disability is awarded a temporary total evaluation under 38 CFR 4.29 for two months following surgery.  The Veteran is SC for PTSD, which is rated 70-percent disabling.  SMC (s) will also be awarded while the total rating under 38 CFR 4.29 is in effect, as the separate PTSD evaluation of 70 percent establishes the basis for award of SMC at the housebound rate.

IV.ii.2.H.10.e.  Determining Whether the Veteran Is Permanently Housebound in Fact

If entitlement is based on the Veteran being housebound in fact, the law requires the housebound state to be permanent.
Consider a Veteran permanently housebound if, as a result of a single, total disability, by itself or in combination with other SC disabilities, the Veteran is permanently and substantially confined to
  • his/her place of residence and immediate premises, or
  • ward or clinical areas, if institutionalized under 38 CFR 3.350(i)(2).
Important:  There is no requirement that either the single disability, evaluated as totally disabling, or the additional disability(ies), independently ratable as 60- percent or more disabling, be permanent in nature if SMC at the housebound rate is awarded on a statutory, rather than factual, basis.
Reference:  For more information on substantial confinement to home, see Howell v. Nicholson19 Vet.App. 535 (2006).

IV.ii.2.H.10.f. Determining Whether the Veteran Is Substantially Confined for Housebound in Fact Entitlement

A housebound in fact determination requires a Veteran’s inability to leave his /her place of residence and immediate premises in order to earn any income.  However, it does not require a total inability to leave the place of residence and immediate premises for all circumstances.  Leaving home for medical purposes cannot, by itself, serve as the basis for finding that a Veteran is not substantially confined for purposes of SMC housebound benefits.  The limitations must be the result of the Veteran’s SC disabilities.
Non-medical indicators of housebound status may include but are not limited to
  • inability to walk substantial distances
  • leaving the home with assistance only occasionally for
    • appointments
    • grocery shopping, or
    • church, or
  • inability to mow one’s lawn.
Example 1:  A Veteran is totally disabled due to SC diabetes mellitus and related complications.  He leaves his house weekly for dialysis treatment.  His SC conditions limit his ability to independently ambulate to less than 30 feet before requiring significant rest.  The Veteran is entitled to SMC based on housebound in fact status as his inability to leave the home other than for medical visits demonstrates substantial confinement to place of residence and immediate premises.  Furthermore, the diabetes mellitus and complications are so disabling that he is rendered unable to leave his residence and immediate premises to earn income.
Example 2:  A Veteran is SC for multiple disabilities including CAD, which is totally disabling.  His wife drives him to all medical appointments.  If the Veteran experiences a good day, they may run some minor errands while out of the home.  The Veteran is entitled to SMC based on housebound in fact status as leaving his home for medical visits does not preclude a finding of substantial confinement to his dwelling or immediate premises.  Furthermore, the other visits where the Veteran’s activity is limited to minor errands does not preclude a finding of substantial confinement since the Veteran is not shown to be able to leave his place of residence and immediate premises in order to earn income.
Reference:  For more information on determining whether a Veteran is substantially confined for the purposes of housebound determinations, see

IV.ii.2.H.10.g.  Protected Evaluations in Determination of Housebound Entitlement

Consider any evaluation protected under 38 CFR 3.951 at its protected level.
For the purpose of determining entitlement to housebound benefits only, utilize ratings under the 1925 schedule, which are protected by 38 CFR 3.952 with ratings under the current Rating Schedule for separate and distinct disabilities.
Reference:  For more information on protected SMC ratings, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 8.C.1.g.

11.  Entitlement to SMC Under 38 U.S.C. 1114(t) Based on the Need for A&A for Residuals of TBI


Introduction

This topic contains information about entitlement to SMC (t) based on the need for A&A for residuals of TBI, including

Change Date

June 7, 2018

IV.ii.2.H.11.a.Change in Law Establishing SMC (t)

PL 111-275 amended 38 U.S.C. 1114 effective October 1, 2011, to authorize payment of SMC (t), which is equal to SMC (r)(2) for Veterans who
  • need regular A&A for residuals of TBI, but
  • are not eligible for higher level of A&A under (r)(2), and
  • would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care in the absence of regular A&A.
Notes:
  • SMC (t) authorized by PL 111-275 is not the same historical SMC (t) rate that was discontinued in 1986.  The current benefit cannot be awarded or rated using that historical code.
  • 38 CFR 3.350(j)38 CFR 3.352(b)(2), and 38 CFR 3.552(b)(2) were updated to implement PL 111-275 on June 7, 2018.  These regulatory amendments do not change entitlement to benefits under SMC (t) as was previously established under PL 111-275 and associated non-regulatory implementing guidance.
Reference:  For more information on evaluating TBI, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 4.N.2.

IV.ii.2.H.11.b.  Developing for SMC (t)

General development rules apply to claims for SMC (t).
A medical examination and/or opinion may only be undertaken if the Veteran has already established SMC (l) due to the need for regular A&A.
If a VA medical examination, opinion, or both, are required, request a TBI examination.
Use the table below to determine the type of VA examination to request for TBI claims.

If SC has …

Then …

not been established for residuals of TBI, and a TBI exam is needed order an initial TBI exam using the Initial TBI (I-TBI) Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ), and VA Form 21-2680.
already been established by residuals of TBI, and a TBI exam is needed order a TBI review exam using the TBI Review (R-TBI) DBQ and VA Form 21-2680.

IV.ii.2.H.11.c.  Establishing Entitlement to A&A at the (l) Rate Prior to Rating for SMC (t)

Before considering entitlement to SMC (t), the rating activity must establish entitlement to A&A benefits at the (l) rate.
Reference:  For more information on the procedures governing awards for SMC (l) for A&A, see M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, 2.H.8.

IV.ii.2.H.11.d.  Processing Awards for SMC (t)

Veterans entitled to SMC (t) are entitled to payment at a rate equivalent to (o) plus the (r)(2) allowance.  If entitlement to the (r)(2) rate is shown without regard to (t) provisions, process as a regular (r)(2) award.
When the Veteran is entitled only to regular A&A due to TBI, but would require hospitalization, nursing home care, or other residential institutional care in the absence of regular A&A, the Veteran should be paid at the basic code in the absence of other qualifying disabilities.

IV.ii.2.H.11.e.  Processing Hospitalization Rates for SMC(t)

When inputting a decision awarding entitlement to SMC (t),
  • use the SMC calculator in the Rating Job Aids webpage to determine the highest rate(s) of SMC
  • enter the calculated rates into the VBMS-R SMC narrative and coding screens, and
  • place the following notation in the free text codesheet comments box:SMC(t) = (r)(2).
Notes:
  • If a Veteran is entitled to a higher rate than SMC (l), but less than SMC (r)(2), the appropriate level of SMC should be determined withoutaccounting for an elevation to SMC (t).  This action will generate the correct hospitalization code.
  • Reduction for hospitalization will be made to the rate equal to SMC (s) in cases where there is no underlying SMC entitlement other than to A&A.  Otherwise, the hospitalization rate will be paid according to underlying entitlement.
Reference:  For more information on reduction of SMC during hospitalization, see38 CFR 3.552.

Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_5-12-17.docx May 21, 2019 157 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_6-16-2015.docx May 21, 2019 129 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_07-22-2015.docx May 21, 2019 131 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_7-30-15.docx May 21, 2019 133 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_10-27-16.docx May 21, 2019 156 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_10-20-17.docx May 21, 2019 161 KB
6-7-18_Key-Changes_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH.docx May 21, 2019 124 KB
Change-July-30-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_TS.docx May 21, 2019 38 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_1-5-16.docx May 21, 2019 139 KB
Change-June-16-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_TS.docx May 21, 2019 46 KB
Change-July-22-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1IV_ii_2_SecH_TS.docx May 21, 2019 41 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-pt04_sp02_TS_10-05-10.docx May 21, 2019 41 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1MRIV_ii_TS.docx May 21, 2019 43 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-09_29_06.docx May 21, 2019 29 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-12_13_05.docx May 21, 2019 31 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-09_08_09.docx May 21, 2019 32 KB
Did this article answer your question?

Leave a Reply





Pin It on Pinterest

Share This