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VA Disability Ratings Higher Than 100 Percent

August 30, 2019
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A 100 percent disability rating, or a total disability rating, is the highest percentage that can be given for service-connected compensation purposes.  This rating is reserved for veterans with extremely debilitating service-connected conditions that typically make them unable to work and mostly unable to care for themselves.  Although 100 percent is the highest schedular rating, there are certain situations in which veterans can receive a greater amount of compensation.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Special monthly compensation (SMC) is a monthly benefit for veterans who have service-connected conditions that result in severe impairment, including the loss or loss of use of extremities, blindness, the need for regular aid and attendance, etc.  SMC is not necessarily based on a veteran’s average earning impairment, but instead designed to compensate for non-economic factors such as personal inconvenience, social inadaptability, or the profound nature of a disability.  There are multiple SMC rates depending on a veteran’s conditions and the limitations caused by those conditions.

SMC rates, except that of SMC(K) are paid instead of a veteran’s VA disability rating, not in addition to their disability compensation.  Importantly, some of these rates provide substantial monetary support and compensation well above the amount awarded for a 100 percent disability rating.  As of 2019, the levels of compensation associated with the various SMC rates are as follows:

  • SMC(K) – $108.57
  • SMC(L) – $3,804.04
  • SMC(L1/2) – $4,000.69
  • SMC(S) – $3,421.90
  • SMC(M) – $4,198.14
  • SMC(M1/2) – $4,486.58
  • SMC(N) – $4,775.68
  • SMC(N1/2) – $5,055.60
  • SMC(O/P) – $5,338.04
  • SMC(R-1) – $7,627.64
  • SMC(R-2) – $8,749.09
  • SMC(T) – $8,749.09

Aid and Attendance

The need for aid and attendance is a medical circumstance that veterans face when they require regular care from another person in order to carry out the activities of daily living.  Aid and attendance is paid to veterans, their dependents, or survivors at rates higher than standard VA disability compensation.  To qualify for aid and attendance benefits in the form of SMC, veterans must require assistance or supervision to perform activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Getting dressed
  • Bathing and maintaining personal hygiene
  • Preparing meals and eating
  • Using the restroom
  • Adjustment of prosthetic or orthopedic appliances that most others would usually be able to perform alone

Other criteria that qualifies a veteran to receive aid and attendance benefits include:

  • If the veteran’s mental disability requires the regular care of another person in order to protect them from hazards in their daily environment; OR
  • If the veteran is “bedridden,” meaning that their medical condition is so severe that it requires the veteran to remain in bed. This does not apply to a temporary, prescribed period of bedrest.

Aid and attendance benefits are usually prescribed under SMC(R).  However, housebound benefits are provided under SMC(S).  For a veteran to be considered permanently housebound, it means that he or she is expected to be unable to leave their home indefinitely due to a service-connected condition.  Veterans may also qualify for housebound benefits if they have one service-connected condition rated at 100 percent, in addition to a disability from a different body system rated at 60 percent.

Specially Adapted Housing and Automobile Special Adaptive Equipment

Veterans who meet certain criteria may be eligible to receive VA grants for specially adapted housing (SAH) and automobile adaptive equipment (AAE).

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH)

SAH grants are awarded to veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected conditions.  These grants can be used to:

  • Build a specially adapted home on land to be acquired
  • Construct a home on land already owned if it is suitable for SAH
  • Remodel an existing home if it can be made suitable for SAH
  • Use the grant against the unpaid principle mortgage balance of an adapted home already acquired

The SAH grant amount is set by law and may be adjusted based on the cost-of-construction index annually.  As of 2019, the maximum amount allowable for SAH grants is $85,645.

Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE)

AAE grants are reserved for veterans who have certain service-connected conditions and need special equipment to aid them in operating a vehicle.  Such equipment includes, but is not limited to, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and special equipment necessary to assist the veteran into and out of the vehicle.  VA will pay the benefit to either the seller of the vehicle/equipment, or the veteran.

Combined Disability Ratings Greater Than 100 Percent

It is important to note that there are times in which veterans have multiple service-connected conditions that appear to add up to greater than 100 percent.  For example, a veteran has a 100 percent disability rating for post-traumatic stress disorder and a 60 percent disability rating for ischemic heart disease, which generally adds up to 160 percent.  However, when a veteran has multiple service-connected conditions, each with its own disability rating, VA combines them together using “VA Math”.  To calculate a combined disability rating, VA starts with the veteran’s highest disability rating, and then works down the list of disabilities, combining them from highest to lowest.  Once VA has combined all of the disabilities, it will round up to the nearest 10 percent and the veteran will receive that compensation rate.  To calculate combined disability ratings, veterans can use VA’s combined ratings table, or our 2019 VA disability calculator.  This tool will generate an estimate of your combined disability rating and the corresponding amount of monthly compensation.  Ultimately, VA does not award combined disability ratings higher than 100 percent.  Once veterans reach the 100 percent combined schedular rating, VA will pay them at the highest compensation level regardless of additional disability ratings, unless they qualify for additional benefits through SMC as discussed above.

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