Filing a VA Claim for Mesothelioma & Asbestos
Veterans who develop mesothelioma after serving in the military may be eligible for VA disability compensation and other benefits. They must file a VA claim, provide medical records and proof of military asbestos exposure. Veterans with other asbestos diseases may also qualify for VA benefits.
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How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article
Munz, A. (2023, March 1). Filing a VA Claim for Mesothelioma & Asbestos. Asbestos.com. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from https://www.asbestos.com/veterans/va-claims/
Munz, Aaron. "Filing a VA Claim for Mesothelioma & Asbestos." Asbestos.com, 1 Mar 2023, https://www.asbestos.com/veterans/va-claims/.
Munz, Aaron. "Filing a VA Claim for Mesothelioma & Asbestos." Asbestos.com. Last modified March 1, 2023. https://www.asbestos.com/veterans/va-claims/.
Why File a Mesothelioma VA Claim?
Veterans with mesothelioma, or any disease that military asbestos exposure caused, may be eligible for a variety of veterans benefits. This includes VA disability compensation and VA health care.
Disability compensation is usually paid monthly. A veteran’s disability level, which is interpreted on a percentage scale, determines the amount of compensation. Mesothelioma and other cancers automatically grant a 100% disability rating.
Neither age nor household income affects a veteran’s eligibility for disability compensation. Disability compensation is paid tax-free.
An approved VA disability claim also grants veterans access to free cancer treatment through the VA health care system. Veterans receiving disability compensation are not required to receive mesothelioma treatment at a VA hospital.
Asbestos Diseases the VA Recognizes:
- Lung cancer
- Bronchus cancer
- Gastrointestinal tract cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Pharynx cancer
- Urogenital cancers (except prostate)
- Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
- Pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in discussing its VA mesothelioma benefits also notes that these asbestos-related recognized conditions may impact veterans from all branches and multiple periods of service. The VA particularly notes that veterans who served in Iraq, other countries within the Middle East and Southeast Asia may have been exposed to asbestos in damaged older buildings and in the daily tasks of military occupations such as vehicle repair and construction.
Eligibility for VA Benefits
To receive veterans benefits based on asbestos exposure, you must meet the following criteria:
- Veteran Status: You were honorably discharged from any branch of the U.S. military or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), formerly known as the Environmental Science Services Administration.
- Medical Diagnosis: You can provide medical records from a hospital or doctor that confirm you have an asbestos-related illness.
- Exposure History: You can provide a written asbestos exposure summary and other evidence proving that at least 50% of your lifetime asbestos exposure occurred while you were in the military.
Your income level will not impact your eligibility for VA disability compensation. (VA Pension is the benefit that income level affects.) If the VA considers your mesothelioma diagnosis service-connected, you will be eligible for 100% disability compensation regardless of your income level.
If you file a traditional VA claim, it becomes the VA’s responsibility to gather all the necessary paperwork. This process is slow, usually taking around eight months.
You can expedite the decision by submitting all the required supporting documentation with the original claim. The VA calls this a fully developed claim, and it typically takes around four months to process. An accredited claims agent can help you put together a fully developed claim.
How Can Veterans File a Mesothelioma VA Claim?
Veterans who qualify for several VA benefits must fill out different forms for each benefit. The filing process is generally the same even though the forms vary.
- Filling out the proper forms in the right way is an important step. VA-accredited representatives can help.
- Veterans may file a claim online, by mail or in person at a VA regional office.
- After submitting the forms, the VA will let you know it received your claim. If you submit it by mail, you will receive a letter in the mail. If you submit it online, you’ll get an on-screen message.
Knowing how to prove your asbestos exposure is the most important factor in filing a successful claim.
Working with a VA-accredited representative can help you cut through the red tape. They can help you avoid the pitfalls that lead to disappointing results.
Asbestos Diseases Qualified for VA Claims
The disability claim process is slightly different for the various types of asbestos-related diseases the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes.
The VA recognizes pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma as 100% disabling. Because only asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, which was prevalent during 20th century military life, less documentation is required for these cases.
However, the VA will recognize mesothelioma as a service-connected disability only if the majority of the veteran’s asbestos exposure occurred during active duty.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer and Gastrointestinal Cancers
Although lung cancer and several types of gastrointestinal cancer are linked to asbestos exposure, these diseases also have other potential causes such as smoking, hereditary factors and exposure to other dangerous substances.
To get the VA to approve these types of cancer as service-related conditions, veterans must provide medical documentation that convinces the VA that asbestos caused their cancer. Asbestos exposure must be as likely to be the cause as all other potential causes combined.
Asbestosis and Other Noncancerous Asbestos Diseases
For asbestosis or another noncancerous asbestos disease, the VA has to verify it is service connected and judge how much the illness affects the veteran’s ability to work.
The VA rates noncancerous asbestos illnesses based on several criteria, including the results of pulmonary function testing. This can result in a disability rating anywhere between 10% and 100%.
Other Types of VA Compensation
In addition to disability compensation, the VA also provides health care services, aid and attendance benefits, dependency and indemnity compensation and other programs and services.
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Commonly known as DIC, this monthly benefit is available to the surviving spouse of a veteran whose service-connected disability caused their death. The monthly benefit starts at about $1,300.
A spouse needs to file a DIC claim even if their loved one was receiving disability compensation for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease prior to their death.
If a veteran was not receiving VA compensation, a surviving spouse may apply for DIC. They must submit information documenting the service-related asbestos exposure.
VA Aid and Attendance Benefits
Also known as Special Monthly Compensation, this benefit is paid to veterans who are housebound, bedridden or disabled to a degree that they require the aid and attendance of someone else. This compensation is also available to spouses and parents of veterans.
The amount of special monthly compensation someone receives depends on how much aid and attendance they require. The benefit usually runs from $250 to $650 a month.
VA Health Care Services
Doctors who specialize in asbestos-related cancer serve the VA treatment centers in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston. The VA can help veterans travel for treatment when necessary.
Even if a veteran’s cancer is not connected to service, they may still be eligible for low-cost treatment through the VA system.
Our Veterans Department can help you understand if you qualify for this type of VA compensation.
Additional VA Programs and Benefits
The VA offers other programs and benefits for veterans with mesothelioma and their loved ones.
- VA Geriatrics and Extended Care Services: The VA offers a variety of services for older veterans to improve their overall health and quality of life and provide options for long-term care.
- VA Caregiver Benefits: This program became available to veterans with mesothelioma and their caregivers in 2021. It provides a monthly stipend, caregiver training, respite care, mental health care and more.
- VA Fiduciary Program: Veterans who would benefit from a loved one handling their finances and VA benefits may elect a fiduciary to oversee and optimize these matters.
- VA Pension Benefits: Wartime veterans and their surviving spouses with low income may qualify for monthly compensation through the VA Pension Program.
Common Questions About Filing an Asbestos-Related VA Claim
- What do I need to know about filing a VA claim for mesothelioma?
Veterans can get help filing a VA claim immediately by speaking with a VA-Accredited Claims Agent. The Mesothelioma Center offers this free service to help veterans correctly fill out their paperwork; get their claim approved, even if a previous one was denied; and receive compensation.
- What expenses can be covered by a VA claim?
Once a VA claim is approved, veterans can use the compensation to cover any expense, including medical bills, travel costs, home caregiving and other expenses.