What Are VA Disability Benefits for Mesothelioma?
VA disability benefits are a monthly, tax-free payment to veterans who became sick or injured as a result of their military service.
VA disability is available for those suffering from either physical ailments and mental health conditions. Veterans with an existing condition that was made worse by their military service may also be eligible.
Service members may be eligible for VA disability benefits whether they are suffering from a chronic injury or a condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may also be entitled to this compensation.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers get lodged in the lungs, they cause damage to the surrounding tissues that can lead to inflammation and cancer years down the line.
The United States military relied heavily on asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s, and, therefore, veterans who served during that time may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Veterans who have become injured as a result of their service can access VA disability benefits by filing a claim with the VA.
Working with an experienced lawyer, a VA-accredited claims agent or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) provides veterans with mesothelioma the best possible chance of receiving benefits.
Mesothelioma lawyers can help uncover the time and place in which disabled veterans were injured during the course of their service, and claims agents can use that documentation to file claims.
Why Do Mesothelioma Veterans Deserve Disability Benefits?
Veterans with mesothelioma are entitled to VA disability benefits since their disease stems from their time in service — and because of how this aggressive disease will affect their daily lives.
Mesothelioma is almost always fatal, and there is no treatment that can cure the disease. The symptoms are often painful and debilitating, preventing veterans from being able to live a normal life.
The manufacturers of asbestos-containing products claimed that their products were safe when they knew that they were dangerous. These falsehoods caused thousands of veterans to be exposed to asbestos fibers over the course of several decades.
The military relied heavily on asbestos and only stopped using asbestos-containing products in the early 1980s. By this time, an entire generation of veterans had already been put at risk.
The brave veterans who served their country should be protected and cared for. They were unknowingly put at risk of the deadly cancer mesothelioma while fighting for their country and, therefore, deserve VA disability benefits if eligible.
Am I Eligible for Mesothelioma VA Disability Benefits?
Certain eligibility requirements exist for veterans seeking VA disability benefits.
The main requirements for receiving benefits are:
Veterans must have served active-duty, active-duty for training, or inactive duty training.
Veterans must have a disability rating for their service-related condition.
Veterans must have not been dishonorably discharged from military service. In fact, veterans who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible for any sort of benefit under any circumstances — even if they developed mesothelioma from duty-related asbestos exposure.
Veterans must also meet one of the criteria listed below:
Service-related illness or injury:
Veterans must have proof their disability has a service connection. Veterans with mesothelioma must provide medical evidence proving their disease was caused or aggravated by being exposed to asbestos while in active military service.
Post-discharge disabilities related to service:
A veteran with a disability that only appeared after their service was completed may also be eligible for benefits. In most cases, mesothelioma fits this criterion since it typically appears years — or decades — after service is completed.
An existing condition that service made worse:
If a veteran entered the military with an existing condition and their service made it worse, they may also be eligible for disability benefits.
Evidence for supporting eligibility comes from a veteran’s service records, including the military branch in which they served, proof of a disabling disease from medical diagnosis, and a reasonable likelihood their disability is directly service-related.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help you document all of the necessary evidence to support your claim, including where and how your military service is connected to your current mesothelioma diagnosis.
How to Apply for VA Disability Benefits
Veterans who would like to apply for VA disability benefits have several different options.
VA disability benefits claims can be filed:
- By mail
- By phone
Veterans can determine which asbestos-containing products they were exposed to and how military asbestos exposure caused their illness with the help of an experienced mesothelioma law firm, VA-accredited claims agent, or VSO.
Mesothelioma law firms have information related to the asbestos industry, which can significantly improve the odds of a veteran successfully proving their case. Once this information is gathered, a VA claims agent can help the veteran file the claim to receive compensation.
How Much Disability Compensation Will I Receive?
The amount of disability compensation that veterans receive from the VA varies based on several different factors.
These factors include:
- Combined ratings (for veterans with multiple disabilities)
- Cost-of-living adjustments
- Dependents (such as spouses or children)
- VA disability rating
The VA calculates compensation rates based on your level of disability, from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. Severe disabilities typically receive higher VA benefits.
Generally, mesothelioma is considered a 100% disability.
If a veteran has multiple disabilities, their compensation may increase. In these cases, the VA calculates the degree of severity of both injuries and determines the appropriate level of compensation.
If a veteran lives with family members, they may be eligible for a pay increase. Dependents include spouses, children, and parents who receive direct care.
The VA also makes cost-of-living adjustments to VA compensation at the same percentages applied to Social Security benefit adjustments.
VA disability benefits rates can be viewed on the official VA website (va.gov). These rates change from year to year based on inflation and Congressional legislation, so it is important to stay educated about rate changes.
Currently, a veteran with no dependents suffering from mesothelioma (100% disability) is entitled to $3,146.42 per month.
A veteran suffering from mesothelioma with one spouse and one child is entitled to $3,450.32 per month. Veterans may receive a higher monthly payment for each additional child.
Questions About Mesothelioma VA Disability Benefits
If you or a loved one is a veteran with mesothelioma, you may still have questions about your VA disability benefits. Below, find several common questions and their answers.
How long will it take for the VA to process my disability claim?
On average, it takes the VA about three to four months to process a disability claim and make a compensation decision.
The amount of time depends on the type of claim filed and how many injuries are claimed on the corresponding VA form. It may take longer for the VA to collect the necessary evidence to make a decision if the documentation isn’t readily available.
Are VA disability benefits subject to taxes?
No, the VA disability benefits compensation that you receive is not subject to any taxes.
Can I receive disability compensation for other asbestos-related diseases?
Yes, other asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer, may also be eligible for VA disability compensation benefits.
Learn More About VA Disability Benefits for Mesothelioma
If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos-related disease due to military service, you are entitled to seek VA benefits.
For veterans with mesothelioma, filing a claim with the VA can provide tax-free disability payments as high as several thousand dollars per month.
These monthly compensation benefits can help pay for medical care, living expenses, or any other needs that a veteran or their family may have.
Working with a mesothelioma lawyer may provide a veteran with the best possible chance to have their claim approved.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help document where and how a veteran’s service exposed them to asbestos — and connect that asbestos exposure with their mesothelioma diagnosis today.
Contact the Mesothelioma Hope team to learn more about filing a VA disability claim for mesothelioma.