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Veterans Law

Special Monthly Compensation Series: SMC(k)

Bradley Hennings

November 30, 2017

Updated: November 20, 2023

Special Monthly Compensation Series: SMC(k)

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is awarded to veterans with a service-connected condition, or combination of service-connected conditions considered by the VA to be especially serious and debilitating. The severity of these conditions warrants higher rates of compensation above the schedular 100 percent. Technically, you do not need to apply for SMC, as the VA should automatically award it to you during your claim process if you qualify.

There are numerous levels of Special Monthly Compensation benefits depending on the nature of the disability, and the amount of compensation varies for each type. Through this blog series we will be examining each level of SMC, the amount of compensation awarded for each, and the criteria required to qualify for each. Feel free to peruse our overview of SMC to build some foundational knowledge before we dive into the details of SMC(k) below.


The first level of Special Monthly Compensation that we will examine is SMC(k), which has a compensation rate of $111.74 per month as of December 2020. This encompasses loss (amputation) or loss of use of a body part(s) or function(s). This rate applies to each body part lost, or that has loss of use, and can be added to other Special Monthly Compensation rates as long as your other SMC qualifying condition is not the same as your SMC(k) or the other rate is capped.

For example, a veteran’s SMC(k) rate is payable for each anatomical loss or loss of use of:

  • One hand
  • One foot
  • Both buttocks
  • One or more creative organs used for reproduction

In addition to:

  • Blindness of one eye whose functionality is only light perception
  • Deafness of both ears
  • Constant inability to communicate by speech
  • Loss of breast tissue

Loss of / Loss of Use

An SMC(k) rating does not require amputation of a limb. Loss of use in the case of a hand or foot means that no effective function remains that is beyond the capability of an amputation stump below the elbow or knee with use of a suitable prosthetic appliance. This is determined based on the actual remaining function of the hand (i.e. grasping, manipulation of fingers) or foot (balance, movement, etc.).

If a veteran experiences loss of, or loss of use of, a hand or foot due to military service, then a subsequent loss of the other due to non-service connected circumstances, they will receive service-connection for both hands/feet. This law also applies to creative organs and eyes.

In our next blog in the Special Monthly Compensation series, we will be discussing SMC(s).

About the Author

Bio photo of Bradley Hennings

Bradley Hennings joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick as an attorney in January 2018 and currently serves as a Partner in the firm. His practice focuses on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

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