Key Facts About Mesothelioma & Veterans

Types of Veterans Benefits for Mesothelioma

Veterans with mesothelioma may receive 100% disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Other benefits include health care services and special monthly compensation.

The surviving spouse of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability is eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation or DIC.

VA Health Care

VA health care enrollment depends on the veteran’s income level or confirmation of a service-connected illness. The VA considers service-connected mesothelioma if 50% of the asbestos exposure happened in active duty.

Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a monthly benefit. It’s based on a veteran’s level of disability. The VA considers asbestos-related cancers, such as mesothelioma, 100% disabling.

Single veterans with mesothelioma qualify for the maximum monthly benefit of $3,106. Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables show married veterans qualify for a monthly payment of $3,279. Benefits may increase based on the veteran’s number of dependents.

Special Monthly Compensation

Disabled veterans who rely on another person qualify for special monthly compensation. Payments often range from $3,800 to more than $5,000 a month. This benefit is also available to spouses and parents of veterans.

Rates for special monthly compensation depend on several factors, including number of dependents.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and indemnity compensation is a monthly benefit paid to the surviving spouse of a veteran who died from a service-related disability. The monthly benefit is $1,357.56. Extra monthly compensation is available under certain circumstances.

Spouses of deceased veterans should file a claim to receive this benefit.

VA Burial Benefits

The VA burial allowance for a death connected to military service is $2,000. A person seeking this benefit must provide proof they paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral. They also must show the veteran died of a service-connected disability. Such disabilities include mesothelioma linked to military asbestos exposure.

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Exposed to Asbestos in the Military?
Learn how to access disability, special monthly compensation and other types of benefits for veterans affected by an asbestos-related illness.

How to File a VA Claim and Other Veterans Benefits

To file a VA claim for mesothelioma and receive veterans benefits, you must submit documentation of the veteran’s asbestos exposure and the resulting diagnosis.

Claims processing takes time. It is easier for family members to get survivor benefits if they first file a disability claim. Veterans should start the VA claim process immediately after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Basic Requirements for Filing a VA Claim
  • Discharge Status: Discharged from active military service under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Exposure Summary: Includes history of military job ratings, locations, etc.
  • Medical Evidence: Medical proof that active military duty led to asbestos exposure that caused mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
  • Medical Documentation: A doctor must provide medical records showing asbestos exposure caused mesothelioma.

Filing a VA disability claim for an asbestos-related condition is easier with a VA-accredited claims agent.

Asbestos Diseases Eligible for VA Disability Benefits
  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
  • Bronchus cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Larynx cancer
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Urogenital cancers (except prostate)
“In a war situation, the last thing you would ever think about is asbestos exposure. But it happened to a lot of good people. When you see guys getting asbestos-related diseases years after they served, you want to help, and I have that opportunity here.”
Aaron Munz
Director of Veterans Department

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

Every branch of the armed forces used asbestos during the 20th century. It was popular in the military because it served as a fireproofing material.

Asbestos use continued after medical evidence proved the mineral’s harmful effects. This put veterans at risk for mesothelioma and other diseases.

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Free Mesothelioma Guide for Veterans
Learn about mesothelioma, asbestos exposure in the military, your treatment options and more.

How Was Asbestos Used in the Military?

The military used asbestos in all transportation. Vehicles contained thermal insulation, brake pads and other asbestos products.

Barracks and other military buildings contained asbestos cement and other asbestos materials. A May 2020 U.S. Defense Department’s Inspector General report showed 38,000 military housing units in the U.S. and abroad still contain toxic substances such as asbestos or lead.

Watch: Senior Writer Tim Povtak explains why veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma should seek legal help.

Discover How Your Branch of the Military Used Asbestos


Asbestos Exposure in Navy Ships and Shipyards

U.S. Navy used more asbestos than other branches of the military. The Navy packed its vessels with asbestos materials from bow to stern. Engine, boiler rooms and other areas below deck also contained asbestos materials.

No naval ship was free of asbestos between the 1930s and 1970s. Records show Navy ships housed more than 300 asbestos-containing products. Asbestos materials filled shipyards.

As a result, Navy veterans have higher rates of asbestos-related diseases.

Military ship showing areas of high asbestos exposure

Asbestos Exposure After Military Service

Many veterans trained in construction or engineering found similar civilian jobs. Unfortunately, asbestos exposure often happened in these post-service careers.

The extra exposure increased their odds of developing an asbestos-related condition.

“As a mesothelioma patient who is also a veteran, you’re entitled to civilian and VA resources. We help veterans understand how to access both.”
Danielle diPietro
VA-Accredited Claims Agent

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure in Military Dependents

Service members often brought home asbestos dust on their work clothes. The contaminated clothing placed their children, spouses and others at risk.

Children became exposed when playing with their fathers or hugging them. Wives often inhaled asbestos while washing work clothes.

Cancer Treatment for Veterans with Mesothelioma

Many veterans with mesothelioma don’t realize they can seek treatment in the VA system. They have access to some of the best specialists in the country. In most cases, the VA can assist with travel arrangements and cover the cost of airfare and housing.

The VA hospitals in Boston and Los Angeles are the best mesothelioma centers for veterans. The top mesothelioma doctors in the nation serve at both hospitals.

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Veterans Choice Program for Mesothelioma

Veterans benefits also cover the cost of specialized services when the VA cannot. Veterans Choice Program lets veterans visit mesothelioma specialists outside the VA.

“I would tell anyone diagnosed to look beyond where they normally would for treatment. There are experts out there who can treat this disease, but you have to find them.”
Odell R.
U.S Navy

Common Questions From Veterans with Mesothelioma

Veterans may have many questions and misconceptions about VA claims and benefits. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about asbestos-related VA claims.

Is there a time limit to file a mesothelioma VA claim?

There is no time limit for filing a VA claim for disability compensation. Unlike lawsuits, mesothelioma VA claims are not subject to statutes of limitations. Asbestos-related VA claims do take time to prepare and review. The sooner you start the process, the better.

Who are the top doctors treating veterans with an asbestos-related disease?

Dr. Robert Cameron is the chief of thoracic surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. He pioneered the successful lung-sparing mesothelioma surgical procedure known as pleurectomy and decortication.

Dr. Dao Nguyen is leading research at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center in Miami. He specializes in targeting molecular therapy for malignant mesothelioma.

Are spouses of veterans eligible for asbestos VA benefits?

Spouses of veterans who died from a service-related disability may apply for dependency and indemnity compensation. The monthly DIC benefit for mesothelioma deaths is $1,319 for the surviving spouse.

What are the differences between VA benefits and legal claims?

VA claims are not legal claims. Veterans with a service-connected disease can file for VA benefits, disability compensation and VA health care. Legal options include filing a lawsuit or asbestos trust fund claim. A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can review your military and civilian asbestos exposure history. They can determine your legal options.

Can veterans file a VA claim if their asbestos-related condition developed after their military discharge?

Veterans who prove their exposure was service connected may qualify for veterans benefits. Diseases related to asbestos exposure take decades to develop.

Are only veterans of the five main branches of the military eligible for benefits?

VA benefits are also extended to commissioned officers of the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Geodetic Survey.