Qualifying for Military Asbestos Exposure Benefits
The criteria for asbestos-related VA benefits are relatively straightforward.
- Military or occupational service documents that show eligibility for VA benefits and when, where, and how they were exposed to asbestos
- Medical records showing a diagnosis with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness
- A letter from their doctor that links the illness to the veteran’s asbestos exposure
Types of Veterans Benefits for Mesothelioma
Some VA benefits are available to all veterans who served (and weren’t dishonorably discharged). There are, however, additional benefits for qualifying veterans with mesothelioma.
VA Health Care
The VA provides top-notch health care systems — including access to some of the best mesothelioma doctors — at little cost to qualifying vets.
The requirements to qualify for VA health care for those who enlisted before September 7, 1980 or who entered active duty before October 16, 1981 are simply to have served.
For veterans who enlisted or started active duty after those dates, you must have served at least 24 months or for the full period you were called to serve. These requirements may be waived if a veteran was discharged early for family hardship or a disability caused or made worse by active duty, or if they received an “early out.”
VA Disability Compensation
The VA offers tax-free monthly compensation for qualifying veterans. This benefit provides a guaranteed income supplement to help veterans who became disabled due to service-related incidents — including asbestos exposure.
The VA will determine if a veteran can get disability benefits and how much is appropriate based on the disability and the expected progress of their condition.
VA Special Monthly Compensation
In addition to VA disability compensation, veterans may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) if their military service led to the loss of use of certain extremities or organs. Vets who have been exposed to asbestos may qualify if, for example, they have had a lung removed to slow the progression of mesothelioma.
Eligible veterans can use SMC payments in addition to disability compensation to pay for in-home care, medical bills, or other expenses.
A pension from the VA is another tax-free source of financial compensation that can help cover the costs of treatment for veterans with mesothelioma. There are certain requirements, however, that must be met to qualify for a VA pension.
- Be permanently disabled
- Be 65 or older
- Reside in a nursing home and receive long-term disability care, or
- Receive either Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
In addition, a veteran must have served during wartime or have been an officer in the military in order to qualify for a pension. Veterans should talk to a VA-accredited claims agent to learn more about the requirements and how to qualify for and receive a pension and other benefits.
Aid and Attendance (A&A)
Veterans managing mesothelioma may have some difficulties caring for themselves and keeping up with daily living tasks. Whether dealing with symptoms or recovering from treatment, these veterans may experience challenges feeding or caring for themselves or maintaining their homes.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits from the VA can help with these difficulties by paying for monthly in-home nursing care or covering expenses related to home upkeep. Veterans who require in-home care due to a permanent disability can qualify for this tax-free monthly payment.
If a veteran’s spouse provides the veteran’s in-home care, they may be eligible to receive compensation for this work through the A&A benefits, as well.
A veteran who must spend the majority of their time at home due to illness or disability may be eligible for VA housebound benefits. It’s important to know, however, that a veteran cannot get both housebound benefits and A&A.
Veterans suffering from mesothelioma may need to spend a lot of time in bed or at home due to either the symptoms of their disease or side effects of treatment. They may also need to spend prolonged periods at home to recover from treatments or surgeries to treat mesothelioma.
To learn if you qualify for housebound benefits or A&A, you should contact a claims agent to discuss your VA benefits.
VA Benefits for Families of Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
In addition to benefits for veterans who have mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses, the VA offers some benefits for their families. Some of these benefits are meant to help families and veterans while dealing with the disease, and others are intended to assist families who have lost a veteran to an asbestos-related disease.
VA Burial Cost Assistance
Mesothelioma VA burial benefits are available to help veterans and their families cover some of the costs for funerals and memorial items.
Families can apply for memorial items — like headstones, markers, burial flags, medallions, and presidential memorial certificates — to be made in honor of their loved ones. Eligible family members who aren’t veterans but are buried in national or military cemeteries may also qualify for help with the cost of markers or headstones.
VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) is paid to surviving spouses and dependent children of military veterans who died from military-related asbestos exposure.
VA Health Care for Family Members
If you are the family member or caregiver of a veteran, you also may qualify for mesothelioma veterans benefits like health care. There are several different types of health care benefits available for the family members of a veteran with mesothelioma. We can connect you with VA-accredited lawyers who can help you pursue mesothelioma VA benefits.
VA Survivors Pension
If a veteran with mesothelioma passes, their spouse or family may be entitled to receive a VA survivors pension. Like most other VA benefits, the survivors pension is only available to qualifying survivors.
How to File a Mesothelioma VA Benefits Claim
Contact a VA-Accredited Lawyer
Finding an attorney who’s been through formal training on the VA claims system isn’t required to successfully claim your benefits. It’s a good idea, however, to contact a lawyer who has completed formal training through the VA.
Not only will an experienced attorney give you the best chance at getting all your benefits, but they can often help in other ways. A VA-accredited lawyer can help you get all your mesothelioma VA benefits — in addition to any other compensation you may be entitled to.
Prove Eligibility for Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits
To be eligible for VA mesothelioma benefits, a veteran will need to prove a history of asbestos exposure, a diagnosis of mesothelioma or a related disease, and the right service background.
This may sound simple, but mesothelioma cases and other asbestos-related conditions often don’t arise for 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos. It can be difficult to precisely identify asbestos exposure during military service after so many years, but an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help.
File a Claim
Once all the information and supporting documents are gathered, a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) can work with the veteran and their representatives in filing the claim. As of June 2021, the VA takes an average of 134 days to complete a disability-related claim.
- Filing a supplemental claim
- Requesting a higher-level review
- Filing a board appeal
Begin Receiving Compensation
Once a claim is approved, the VA will send out information explaining the mesothelioma veterans benefits awarded as well as the reasoning behind the determination.
Other Types of Compensation for Veterans
One of the benefits of finding a VA-accredited lawyer is that they will know of other types of compensation for veterans with mesothelioma. The VA benefits are great, but an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can also help veterans find other compensation that they may be entitled to.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Companies that manufactured asbestos products were required by courts to set aside money in trust funds for those harmed by exposure to asbestos fibers. Veterans and their families can file claims to access these funds in addition to seeking their VA benefits.
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
The dangers of asbestos were unknown to workers, service members, and the military. The asbestos manufacturers, however, knew their products were harmful and concealed this information.
Veterans with asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma can file personal injury suits against these companies. Survivors of veterans who died from mesothelioma can file a wrongful death action.
Get Help Accessing Mesothelioma VA Benefits
Dealing with mesothelioma or other forms of asbestos-related cancers is hard enough. Veterans who were exposed to asbestos while serving the country shouldn’t also have to worry about figuring out how to access the benefits they earned.
With a free case review, we can help you determine your eligibility and put you in touch with resources that can let you focus on your or your loved one’s health — and let someone else get you financial and other assistance.