Attention Veterans: Expanded Benefits May Benefit You
We encourage veterans to carefully read about recent changes to VA benefits and access to care. If you need help accessing benefits that you are entitled to receive, please call or office at 302-651-0113.
SPECIAL MONTHY COMPENSATION
The ability to claim SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) for Veterans in need of aid and assistance (A&A) because of traumatic brain injury has been available since October 1, 2001. But the VA recently amended the regulations to officially codify the rules and benefits.
SMC is paid in addition to regular compensation rates and is available for loss of the use of a limb or body part and for A&A.
There are three levels of compensation and, just like regular compensation, the higher the need the higher the amount of money that can be paid. Veterans living at home as well as those living in assisted living or nursing homes, can qualify.
COURT CASE SAYS PAIN QUALIFIES AS A DISABILITY
In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a 19-year-old precedent used in more than 11,000 VA claims denials that stated veterans had to have a clear medical diagnosis connected to their pain in order to be eligible for disability payouts.
The decision says that “disability” refers to the functional impairment of earning capacity, not the underlying cause of the disability, and says that pain alone can cause an impairment to earning capacity.
Advocates said the ruling could be life-changing for individuals who are unable to work because of service-connected injuries but excluded from veterans’ assistance because of medical technicalities.
Veterans still need to show a clear connection between their pain and their military service to be eligible but would no longer have to have a specific medical reason for the pain to apply for benefits.
The court case is called Saunders v. Wilkie and it could be appealed, but for those who have been denied, it’s worth watching the case.
OK TO SEEK PRIVATE CARE
A new law expands a veteran’s access to private health care.
The measure allows veterans to see private doctors, with the approval of a Department of Veterans Affairs health provider, when they do not receive the treatment they expected, but without long wait times required in the past. The bill also expands caregiver programs to cover families of veterans of all eras.
If you have questions about VA benefits in general or these changes, give us a call at 302-651-0113.