VA Benefits for Veterans With Asbestos-Related Diseases
Veterans diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may be eligible to access benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Many military veterans like you have suffered health consequences after being exposed to asbestos when they served.
Asbestos use was widespread throughout the military since the mineral was durable, lightweight, cheap — and supposedly safe.
Every military branch used asbestos-containing products, including the:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- Marine Corps
Yet military service members and the general public did not know that asbestos exposure could lead to deadly health problems — including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis — decades after the fact.
Many military service members have suffered delayed health consequences after being exposed to asbestos during their service.
Veterans account for about 30% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Fortunately, the VA offers health benefits and other forms of compensation to veterans who develop asbestos-related illnesses after serving in the military.
Common mesothelioma veterans benefits include:
- Disability benefits
- Health care coverage
- Mesothelioma treatments at VA hospitals
Anyone who served in the U.S. military — and developed an asbestos-related illness as a result — deserves to access mesothelioma veterans benefits.
Veterans can also access other types of compensation by exploring their legal options.
Types of VA Benefits
VA benefits help veterans with mesothelioma pay for many different types of care. For example, you may be able to receive low-cost medical care or financial compensation for lost wages.
The VA will carefully assess your claim to determine whether or not you qualify for certain benefits.
Aid and Attendance (A&A)
Veterans who require in-home care due to a permanent disability can receive additional monthly compensation.
A&A benefits are tax-free monthly payments to help veterans cover the costs of in-home nurse care or assistance with daily living tasks.
Veterans managing mesothelioma symptoms or recovering from a mesothelioma treatment may have difficulties caring for themselves and their homes. They may have to spend a large portion of the day in bed and have limited mobility, shortness of breath, or pain.
These physical symptoms may make it difficult for veterans to feed, bathe, or dress themselves. Veterans experiencing mesothelioma symptoms may also find it difficult to complete cleaning and maintenance tasks around their home.
A&A benefits can pay for monthly in-home nurse care or services to support veterans with daily household activities.
Spouses of veterans are also eligible to qualify for A&A benefits if they are interested in providing in-home care themselves.
Disability compensation is a tax-free monthly compensation benefit that provides guaranteed income supplements to veterans. Veterans can receive this benefit if they became disabled due to service-related asbestos exposure.
The VA will determine if a veteran can receive disability benefits — and if so, how much — based on the severity of their disease and how their condition is expected to progress.
VA Dependency and 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.
Veterans can learn more about this tax-free benefit by speaking with a VA accredited claims agent.
If you previously applied for VA DIC benefits connected to a Blue Water Navy vessel and were denied, the recent Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 may deem you eligible for VA DIC benefits. Parents of deceased military veterans may also be eligible.
Mesothelioma Hope can help victims and their survivors determine if they may be eligible for VA DIC benefits and other types of financial compensation.
Funeral & Burial Benefits
VA funeral and burial benefits can help veterans and their loved ones plan for a burial or memorial service at a VA national cemetery and help cover the costs associated with funerals and memorial items.
When planning for a burial of a veteran, families can apply for certain memorial items — including headstones, markers, medallions, burial flags, and engraved presidential memorial certificates — to be made to honor their loved one.
Eligible spouses and family members buried in national or military cemeteries may also qualify for monetary support for a marker or headstone.
Veterans who spend the majority of their time at home due to an illness or disability may be eligible for a tax-free benefit called VA housebound benefits.
A veteran is not eligible for both A&A and housebound benefits at the same time.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma or recovering from mesothelioma treatment or surgery may not have energy to leave their homes. Mesothelioma symptoms or treatment side-effects may also force veterans to spend most of their time in bed resting.
Veterans may be eligible for VA housebound benefits if their mesothelioma is causing them to spend the majority of their time at home.
VA pensions are tax-free monthly benefits that disabled veterans may be eligible for in addition to other regular income sources.
Not all veterans are eligible for VA pensions — certain eligibility requirements must be met.
To be eligible for a VA pension, a veteran must:
- Be older than 65
- Receive in-home nursing care
- Be permanently disabled
- Receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Veterans should speak to a VA-accredited Claims Agent to learn more about these requirements and how they impact VA pensions.
VA pensions can be very beneficial for those suffering from diseases caused by their military service — including mesothelioma. This monthly payment can help cover health care costs.
If a veteran with mesothelioma passes, their loved ones may be entitled to receive what is called the VA survivors pension.
The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged in order for their dependents to receive the VA survivors pension.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)
SMC is a tax-free benefit paid on top of regular VA disability compensation.
Veterans who have incurred the loss or loss of use of specific extremities or organs as a result of military service may be eligible for SMC.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during their military service may be eligible for SMC.
In certain cases, mesothelioma surgery or the disease progression could result in the removal or loss of use of specific organs — such as a lung. Eligible veterans can use SMC payments to help pay for medical bills or in-home care.
VA Health Care
VA health care provides veterans with mesothelioma access to treatments from top mesothelioma specialists who work at VA hospitals.
These doctors — including Dr. Robert Cameron and Dr. Avi Lebenthal — can recommend and administer treatments designed specifically for patients with asbestos-related illnesses.
Veterans must also meet specific requirements to be eligible to receive VA health care benefits.
For example, the veteran must have served for at least 24 months or the full period they were called to serve. This is the case for veterans who enlisted after September 7th, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16th, 1981.
These requirements may be waived if the veteran was discharged early for a family hardship, a disability that was caused or made worse by active duty, or received an “early out.”
Additionally, members of the National Guard or Federal Reserves must have been on active duty (not for training purposes) to qualify for this benefit.
How to Apply for VA Benefits
Since mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos, most VA claims are filed after veterans have completed their service.
That said, active-duty service members with mesothelioma can also apply for VA benefits.
Veterans can apply for mesothelioma veterans benefits:
- In-person at a VA office
- Online through the VA website
- Through the mail
- With the help of an accredited VA claims agent or lawyer
These options give veterans the flexibility they need to file for mesothelioma veterans benefits, regardless of where they live. There is no statute of limitations (time limit) to file a VA benefits claim.
Proving Your VA Claim
When a veteran makes an asbestos-related VA claim, they must meet certain criteria. to successfully receive benefits.
To receive mesothelioma veterans benefits, veterans need:
- A note from their doctor linking their disease to asbestos exposure
- Medical records showing they were diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease
- Occupational or military service documents, which can help show when, where, and how they were exposed while they served
Without these, the VA claim could be denied or rejected.
Military Jobs with High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Some military service duties presented higher risks of asbestos exposure than others. Those serving in these high-risk occupations were much more likely to be exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.
Service occupations with the highest asbestos exposure risk are:
- Aircraft technicians & flight crews
- Armored vehicle operators & support
- Automotive mechanics
- Construction & demolition workers
- Engine & boiler workers
- Heavy equipment mechanics
- Propulsion room workers
- Shipyard workers
U.S. Navy veterans who worked in shipyards were arguably at the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos use on Navy ships was rampant, as the Navy used the mineral more than any other branch of the military.
Military Products and Asbestos Exposure
The VA also recognizes that certain asbestos-containing products put service personnel at risk of developing diseases. Usually, these products were handled by people holding high-risk occupations.
Notable asbestos-containing products used by the military included:
- Cement powder and masonry mortar
- Friction products like brake pads and clutch plates
- Insulation, soundproofing, and fireproofing materials
- Pipe and duct wrap
- Roofing, flooring, and wallboard construction materials
- Welding rods and protective welding clothing
Direct handling of these products was not the only way veterans came into contact with asbestos. Some veterans suffered secondhand asbestos exposure just from being near airborne asbestos fibers that were floating in the air.
For example, if a service member walked by a military construction site, they could inhale these fibers and possibly get sick decades later.
Checking the Status of a Claim
It takes an average of 111 days for the VA to process a disability claim. The amount of time it takes will depend on the type of claim a veteran filed, what illness they were diagnosed with, and how much evidence was provided to support the VA claim.
With the help of an attorney, veterans can avoid any problems that will delay their claim, allowing them to receive VA benefits as soon as possible.
The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you get in contact with experienced mesothelioma lawyers who can help you strengthen your claim.
Working with VA Agents and Lawyers to File VA Claims
Understanding and filing an asbestos-related VA claim to receive benefits can be tricky. If done improperly, veterans may miss out on compensation or mesothelioma veterans benefits that they are entitled to.
Anyone looking to file for mesothelioma veterans benefits should start by connecting with an experienced lawyer. Mesothelioma lawyers can help veterans gather the right information needed to file a claim and connect a veteran with experienced service officers.
Even the VA recommends that all veterans work with an experienced attorney or an accredited claims agent to ensure they get the benefits they deserve.
Common Myths About Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits
When veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma and looking to receive benefits or compensation for their illness, they may have questions or misconceptions.
Learn more about common VA benefits myths — and the correct information — below.
Myth: I served too long ago to qualify for VA benefits.
No matter how long ago they served, eligible veterans can still receive VA benefits. Even if they served decades ago, they may still be eligible and are encouraged to apply.
Myth: I have private insurance so I can’t file for VA benefits.
Even if a veteran has other insurance coverage, they can still use VA health care for support relating to their medical diagnosis.
Myth: VA health care isn’t as good as private medical care.
Studies have shown that the healthcare system within the VA is actually equal to and sometimes better than the health care that may be received in the private sector.
Other Mesothelioma Compensation Options for Veterans
Veterans can also file legal claims to seek additional compensation for medical costs and other expenses. However, it’s important to know that military veterans will not sue the United States government or their specific military branch for asbestos-related disabilities.
That said, there is nothing preventing veterans from collecting VA benefits while pursuing or receiving compensation from other sources like asbestos trust funds, or personal injury lawsuits.
Loved ones or family members can also file wrongful death claims if the veteran died due to an asbestos-related illness.
It’s recommended that veterans with asbestos-related disabilities work with skilled mesothelioma law firms to help them receive their rightful compensation.
Law firms and lawyers experienced in asbestos litigation work to help their clients get the maximum compensation available.
Start Your Mesothelioma VA Claim Today
Filing for mesothelioma veterans benefits can be a stressful and confusing process for many veterans, especially those already ill. Retaining an attorney with experience in asbestos cases will help veterans get the maximum compensation possible.
To learn more about VA claims and your other compensation options, contact us today.