Last modified: June 9, 2021
Why File a Mesothelioma VA Claim?
Veterans with mesothelioma or any disease caused by military asbestos exposure may be eligible for a variety of veterans benefits, including VA disability compensation and VA health care.
Disability compensation is usually paid monthly. The amount of compensation is determined by the veteran’s disability level, which is interpreted on a percentage scale. Mesothelioma and other cancers automatically grant a 100% disability rating.
A veteran’s eligibility for disability compensation is not affected by their age or household income, and 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 Recognized by the VA
- Lung cancer
- Bronchus cancer
- Gastrointestinal tract cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Pharynx cancer
- Urogenital cancers (except prostate)
- Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
- Pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
How Can Veterans File a Mesothelioma VA Claim?
The most important factor when filing a successful VA mesothelioma claim is knowing how to write it, how to cut through the red tape, and how to avoid the pitfalls that often lead to disappointing results.
For assistance in filing for VA benefits, or if you just need some advice, contact our Veterans Department. One of our representatives will be there to assist you. They can send you an informational packet designed for veterans or chat with you on the phone.
As director of the Veterans Department, Munz is trained and accredited to help other veterans navigate the often complicated VA disability claims process.
Working with a VA-accredited claims agent maximizes the chances of having a claim approved quickly, and it removes much of the frustration and anxiety that comes with dealing directly with the VA.
The Veterans Department at The Mesothelioma Center doesn’t work for the VA or for any other government agency. As a patient advocacy organization, we are happy to provide this service to veterans free of charge.
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.
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.
Asbestos Diseases Qualified for VA Claims
The disability claim process is slightly different for the various types of asbestos-related diseases recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA recognizes pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma as 100% disabling. Because mesothelioma is caused only by asbestos exposure, 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 these types of cancer approved by the VA as service-related conditions, veterans must provide medical documentation that convinces the VA that the cancer was caused by asbestos. 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
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Commonly known by its acronym, DIC is a monthly benefit available to the surviving spouse of a veteran whose death was caused by a service-connected disability. 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, and 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
The VA treatment centers in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston are served by doctors who specialize in asbestos-related cancer, and 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.
Additional VA Programs and Benefits
- 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.
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