Suggested links

Veterans With Mesothelioma

One-third of all mesothelioma patients are veterans. Every branch of the U.S. military relied on asbestos for decades, not knowing it could cause cancer and other deadly diseases. Today, veterans with mesothelioma can file for VA benefits and pursue legal compensation. Learn how Mesothelioma Hope can help you and your family access financial assistance after a diagnosis.

Legally reviewed by: Brian J. Cooke

Last updated:

Why Do Veterans Get Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos, and veterans who served in the military anytime between the 1930s and early 1980s were at a high risk of being exposed to this dangerous mineral on a daily basis.

For many years, asbestos was used to build ships, bases, and other military assets to keep them insulated from heat and fire.

U.S. Veterans and Mesothelioma Risks Video Thumbnail

U.S. veterans are at a high risk of mesothelioma due to widespread use of asbestos by the military. Call us at (866) 608-8933 to get help after a mesothelioma diagnosis. View Transcript.

Duration: 00 min 48 sec

Veterans who served in the military between the 1930s and the 1980s were likely exposed to asbestos while they were on active duty, particularly sailors who served in the Navy who were exposed to asbestos as it was used throughout the ships.

Additionally, the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps all used asbestos during those time periods.

Any veteran who has mesothelioma as a result of their exposure to asbestos while serving in the military is entitled to VA compensation.

We encourage them to call Mesothelioma Hope so that we can work together to help them file for VA benefits.

Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew about the health risks for years but chose not to warn the public so they could keep making money.

Key Facts on Mesothelioma in Veterans

  • About 1,000 former service members are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually.
  • Most cases of mesothelioma can be traced back to service in the U.S. Navy.
  • Navy veterans who served on ships whose keels were laid before 1983 are at especially high risk.
  • Families who lived on military bases could also get mesothelioma from secondhand asbestos exposure.

If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma from service-related asbestos exposure, you are entitled to benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You may also be able to file private legal claims to get compensation that can help pay for treatment and protect your family’s financial future.

Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more about the different options available to veterans with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma veteran support guide
Free Downloadable GuideVeterans Compensation Guide
  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

Get Your Free Guide

Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits

With benefits from the VA, you may be able to receive mesothelioma treatment for free (or at a reduced cost), as well as monthly payouts for you and your family.

Keep reading to learn about some of the most common mesothelioma veterans benefits.

VA Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is tax-free money paid monthly based on your disability rating. The VA rates service-related disabilities on a scale from 0% to 100%. The more severe the disability, the higher the disability rating.

Because the VA considers mesothelioma a total disability, veterans who have this cancer are eligible for the highest rating. For 2024, disability compensation pays $3,946.25 a month to married veterans with mesothelioma.

If you’re already receiving disability benefits, you can apply for a 100% rating from the VA after your mesothelioma diagnosis. It’s also important to note that there are no income or employment requirements for disability payouts.

VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Along with disability benefits, the VA provides Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for veterans who need help completing daily activities.

Mesothelioma often requires ongoing medical care and support. SMC offers extra financial assistance to veterans who need to hire a home caregiver or health aide.

VA Pension

The VA’s pension program provides financial assistance to veterans with mesothelioma and other disabilities. Money from a VA pension can help alleviate the economic strain associated with mesothelioma and cover the costs of your medical care and living expenses.

To be eligible for a VA pension, you must have served on active duty during wartime, meet certain income and net worth limits, and be permanently and totally disabled. Veterans with higher incomes may still qualify for a VA pension if they have significant medical expenses.

Veterans who qualify for a pension may also be able to receive additional monthly Aid & Attendance benefits to pay for professional health care in their home or at an off-site facility.

VA Survivors Benefits

Surviving spouses, dependent children, and sometimes dependent parents of veterans who pass away from mesothelioma can apply for tax-free benefits from the VA.

These include:

Get your copy of our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to better understand the full range of benefits available to you and your family.

Mesothelioma veteran support guide
Free Downloadable GuideVeterans Compensation Guide
  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

Get Your Free Guide

Who’s Eligible for Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits?

Mesothelioma veterans benefits are available to individuals who have served in the United States military and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer.

You may need the following to file a VA benefits claim for mesothelioma :

  • A letter from a doctor describing the connection between your current medical condition and your military service (also known as a nexus letter)
  • Medical records confirming your mesothelioma diagnosis
  • Military service records
  • Proof that you were not dishonorably charged (DD214 or other separation documents)

Which U.S. Military Branches Used Asbestos?

All branches of the U.S. armed forces used asbestos until the early 1980s, but some veterans had a higher risk of exposure than others.

  • U.S. Air Force: Pilots, mechanics, and crew members like gunners may have been frequently exposed to asbestos.
  • U.S. Army: Asbestos could be found in U.S. Army vehicle parts like gaskets and brake pads and construction materials like insulation and paint.
  • U.S. Coast Guard: Those who worked on ships or in Coast Guard shipyards had a very high risk of asbestos exposure.
  • U.S. Marine Corps: Marines may have been exposed to asbestos from Air Force planes, bases, Navy ships, and vehicles.
  • U.S. Navy: Almost every Navy ship was built with asbestos-containing products to keep them fireproof and resistant to corrosion.

If you’re not sure exactly how you were exposed to asbestos, one of Mesothelioma Hope’s VA-accredited attorneys may be able to help you gather this information so you can file your benefits claim. Call us at (866) 608-8933 now to get started.

The Military and Mesothelioma: Albert’s Journey

Navy veteran Albert Manring and his wife Juanita

Albert Manring’s story is one of resilience and sacrifice, starting with his service in the U.S. Navy as a flight crewman on R4D aircraft. Like many veterans, Albert experienced asbestos exposure during his military service without knowing it could make him sick.

After leaving the Navy, he was again exposed to asbestos as a union electrician at Wood River Refinery, U.S. Steel, and other job sites. Albert was ultimately diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2017 when a fall at home resulted in a trip to the hospital.

“Dad was always proud of being a veteran. He was proud of our country. He raised all of his kids to be proud of this country.”
– Linda Maple, daughter of U.S. Navy veteran and mesothelioma patient Albert Manring

Albert and his wife Juanita decided to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the asbestos companies responsible for his illness to hold them accountable.

VA Treatment for Veterans With Mesothelioma

VA health care allows former service members to get treatment from top surgeons and oncologists at little to no cost. Several hospitals throughout the country treat veterans with mesothelioma using surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation.

If you’re interested in trying an emerging treatment, VA facilities can also help you join a clinical trial. Learn about some of these VA hospitals below.

There are many more VA mesothelioma treatment centers in addition to the ones listed above.

You may also be able to see a non-VA mesothelioma doctor for treatment. In 2019, the MISSION Act expanded VA health care coverage to include approved local providers.

Sign up for our Free Doctor Match service to find mesothelioma specialists in your area and get help scheduling an appointment.

Mesothelioma doctor talking with an older couple
Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match

We'll help you connect with a local mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment.

Find a Doctor Near You

Additional Types of Mesothelioma Veterans Compensation

Along with VA compensation, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may be able to seek financial support from asbestos trust funds and mesothelioma lawsuit settlements.

Learn more about both options below.

Asbestos Trust Fund Payouts

Veterans with mesothelioma may be able to access their share of the $30+ billion already set aside in asbestos trusts.

Trust funds were created by companies that filed for bankruptcy to compensate people harmed by their asbestos-containing products. Most mesothelioma victims are eligible to file claims with multiple asbestos trusts, increasing their total payout.

Asbestos trust fund compensation has helped thousands of veterans with mesothelioma afford medical bills, daily living expenses, and other costs related to a diagnosis. Many veterans start receiving their first payouts within 90 days.

A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can confirm whether you qualify for trust fund compensation and file claims on your behalf.

Mesothelioma Settlements

In addition to submitting asbestos trust fund claims, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may be able to sue the company (or companies) responsible for their illness. If a veteran passes away before they can take legal action, their family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Most mesothelioma lawsuits end in settlements, with an average award between $1 million and $1.4 million. Settlements offer a quicker resolution compared to trials and prevent you from having to go to court.

Noteworthy mesothelioma settlements paid out to veterans include:

  • $4.3 million for a Florida U.S. Army veteran and boilermaker
  • $3.9 million for a U.S. Army veteran and painter in Maryland
  • $3.4 million for an Illinois U.S. Navy veteran who served on the USS General Hershey
  • $2.9 million for South Carolina U.S. Army veteran
  • $2.5 million for a U.S. Navy veteran from New York

It’s important for veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma to explore lawsuit settlements, trust funds, and other compensation options. These can provide another layer of financial support in addition to VA benefits.

File for Benefits and Compensation With Our Help

If you are a U.S. veteran with mesothelioma, don’t wait to file for VA benefits and compensation. You served our country with pride, and you deserve prompt medical and financial assistance for your illness.

Outside of VA benefits, you can work with a lawyer to pursue mesothelioma veterans compensation through asbestos trust fund claims and mesothelioma lawsuits. If you choose these options, you won’t take legal action against the U.S. military or government.

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you pursue VA benefits, asbestos trust fund compensation, and legal claims. Call (866) 608-8933 to get started or download our Free Veterans Guide now.

Disclaimer

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

Veterans and Mesothelioma FAQs

Who mostly gets mesothelioma?

Veterans are among the groups with higher rates of mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Asbestos was commonly used in the military for its heat resistance and insulating properties, particularly in ships, aircraft, barracks, and vehicles.

Many veterans, especially those who served in the Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, or Marines, were exposed to asbestos during their service. Shipyard workers, construction battalions (Seabees), mechanics, and demolition crews were also at risk.

Is mesothelioma a 100% VA disability?

Yes, mesothelioma is considered a VA disability if it was caused by service-related asbestos exposure. For the year 2024, married veterans with mesothelioma get over $47,000 in annual disability. This is tax-free money that doesn’t need to be claimed as income.

If you have dependent children, you can receive additional compensation to help provide financial security for your family.

How were veterans exposed to asbestos?

Veterans were exposed to asbestos primarily through their military service. Asbestos was used in all branches of the military for much of the 20th century because it was durable and fire-resistant.

Veterans who were exposed to asbestos during active duty are at high risk of developing mesothelioma 10-50 years later. This risk level increases in smokers and those who worked in shipyards.

“There are veterans who were exposed in Navy yards, with tobacco exposure, but don’t present [with mesothelioma] until decades later,” says Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez of the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

What is the VA rating for mesothelioma?

The VA grants U.S. veterans with mesothelioma a 100% disability rating in most cases. This allows veterans to get the highest monthly payouts available from their VA benefits.

Get help filing a VA claim or increasing your disability rating after a diagnosis by calling (866) 608-8933.

Can veterans get compensation for asbestos?

Yes, veterans can get compensation for asbestos exposure that occurred during their military service.

Compensation is available through:

  • Asbestos trust funds
  • Legal claims
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • VA disability
  • VA pensions

How much is the VA compensation for asbestos exposure?

Most veterans with mesothelioma qualify for a 100% disability rating from the VA. This means you may be eligible for at least $3,737.85 a month in disability if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

You can receive more compensation if you’re married or have dependent children. VA compensation is meant to help address added challenges and responsibilities faced by veterans supporting a family while dealing with mesothelioma.

Can you get disability for asbestos?

Yes, you can get disability if you get sick after being exposed to asbestos in the military. The VA recognizes mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related conditions as service-connected disabilities.

You can also seek compensation through asbestos trust funds and private legal claims if you were a victim of asbestos exposure during your service. An asbestos lawyer can help you gather evidence and file multiple claims on your behalf.

Attorney Brian CookeReviewed by:Brian J. Cooke

Partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Brian Cooke is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy and a proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran. With over 20 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of his clients, Brian has successfully secured millions in compensation for mesothelioma patients and their families.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2000
  • Handled Hundreds of Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You
References
  1. Benefits.gov. (n.d.). Survivors’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/290
  2. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. (2019, November). Mesothelioma Program at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.curemeso.org/get-involved/attend-conferences-and-events/meet-the-mesothelioma-experts-podcast-broadcast-series/mesothelioma-program-at-veterans-affairs-medical-center-in-houston-texas/
  3. Pell, M. (2019, June 18). U.S. Air Force landlord falsified records to boost income: Documents. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-military-maintenance/
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 VA pension rates for veterans. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/pension/veterans-pension-rates/
  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 veterans disability compensation rates. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/veteran-rates/
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, August 8). Eligibility for Veterans Pension. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/pension/eligibility/
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, September 27). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/
  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, February 10). About VA DIC for spouses, dependents, and parents. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/dependency-indemnity-compensation/
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, February 7). 2020 VA DIC rates for spouses and dependents. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/survivor-dic-rates/
  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, August 8). VA health care and other insurance. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/va-health-care-and-other-insurance/

 

Free 30-Minute ConversationWith Jenna Tozzi, RN
Fill Out Your Contact Information
How We Can Help

Mesothelioma Hope is passionate about helping patients and families affected by this aggressive cancer. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be scary and isolating, but we’re here for you at every step. Hope is only a phone call away.

(866) 608-8933
Medical Guidance
  • Get a second opinion
  • Find a doctor or cancer center
  • Access clinical trials
  • Improve your quality of life
Financial Assistance
  • Access $30 billion in trust funds
  • File a mesothelioma claim
  • Increase your VA benefits
  • Apply for travel grants
Supportive Care
  • Find a support group or peer mentor
  • Get help with daily tasks
  • Explore respite care options
  • Navigate life post-treatment