The US Federal government recently announced additional funding for Veteran Affairs benefits and healthcare through the VA Mission Act. Though beneficial for veterans, the VA Mission Act has led to some questions about what this means for veterans with mesothelioma. In this post, we’ll break it down and tell you everything you need to know.
First, it’s important to recognize who is on the hook for exposing veterans to asbestos. The U.S. military cannot be held liable for asbestos exposure, regardless of whether they are at fault. Instead, the liability lies with the manufacturing companies that created and supplied the asbestos-contaminated materials.
VA Benefits Changes
On June 6 2018, the VA Mission Act was signed into law, improving veterans’ ability to access healthcare coverage through their VA benefits. The biggest perk of the VA Mission Act is the creation of the Veterans Community Care Program, which will replace the existing Veterans Choice Program and make it easier for veterans to receive health care.
The Veterans Community Care Program will enable veterans to receive healthcare within their own community when VA hospitals can’t meet their needs. This is particularly important for veterans with mesothelioma who are unable to travel, as they can receive medical attention at their local hospital, even if it isn’t a VA hospital.
A few additional highlights of the VA Mission Act include:
- Extension of the Veterans Choice Program by one year
- Expanded veteran eligibility for injury claims
- Creation of pilot programs that will attempt to make payment and services easier to obtain
- Fewer restrictions on receiving telemedicine
- Live transplant operations will now be funded when the donor is not a veteran
All in all, the Mission Act is an extraordinarily positive thing for veterans, improving the quality and availability of care for many people who served their country.
Existing VA Benefits
Veterans Affairs benefits are a veteran’s right. Veterans who have been exposed to asbestos, diagnosed with a resulting disease and are receiving VA benefits, will continue to receive their benefits with the VA Mission Act. In fact, more veterans will now be eligible for benefits resulting from asbestos-related claims.
In order to receive health benefits for asbestos exposure, a veteran must have been:
- Honorably discharged
- Exposed to asbestos while in the military service
- Have a disability or disease due to that asbestos exposure
The Veterans Affairs program looks at asbestos exposure similar to an “on the job” injury. While the military won’t take responsibility for that injury, they will help ensure veterans get medical help as a result.
Mesothelioma is considered a disability and veterans who have been diagnosed with it as a result of their military service will receive monthly payouts from the government. Additional benefits received depend on the details of the claim, but it’s not uncommon for veterans to have some or all of their healthcare costs covered through the program as well.
Veterans With Open or Pending Mesothelioma Cases
The U.S. military cannot be held liable for exposing veterans to asbestos. Instead, veterans must seek legal action from the original manufacturer of the asbestos-containing material that resulted in health consequences.
Fortunately for veterans, the ability to hold a manufacturer liable for asbestos exposure is completely separate from the Veterans Affairs benefits programs. If you or a loved one are seeking legal damages from a company, this action will not be affected by the benefit changes.
You are always entitled to your VA benefits. Even veterans who receive 100% benefits coverage from VA can still get additional payouts from manufacturers.
Pursuing Legal Action as a Veteran
Many veterans choose to pursue legal action as compensation for their pain and suffering and to help support their spouses and dependents in the future. Spouses may get a portion of the VA benefits if a mesothelioma patient dies from mesothelioma, but it might not be enough to support the existing standard of living.
Payouts from manufacturers can help alleviate some of this burden and ensure loved ones are taken care of.
If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team today Our in-house VA Claims Agent can help you file your claim to ensure it’s processed successfully. Call us at (866) 608-8933 or see if you qualify for asbestos trust funds.