If you’re a military veteran with mesothelioma, then your story is likely the same as many others. As an unselfish and proud American, you joined the military and served your country for years. Your service finished, and you returned to civilian life — only to develop mesothelioma years later.
Now you’re unable to work, searching for treatment and looking for help.
Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides financial assistance to veterans with mesothelioma. This aid comes from filing a VA claim, which leads to receiving VA benefits. Two main types of VA benefits are VA Disability Compensation and VA Pension.
According to the VA, around one-third of mesothelioma patients are military veterans just like yourself. Unfortunately, these veterans often are told incorrect information about the VA claims process.
We at Mesothelioma Guide are here to correct those common misconceptions about VA claims for veterans with mesothelioma.
Misconception #1: VA Disability Compensation Is Based on Income
VA Disability Compensation is not based on your income. It’s for any veteran who developed a disability primarily due to their military service. As a veteran, if your mesothelioma is linked to your service, then you’re likely eligible for Disability Compensation.
All mesothelioma patients who qualify for Disability Compensation receive a 100% disability rating. This means they receive the maximum monthly compensation amount:
- $3,106.04 for single veterans
- $3,279.22 for married veterans
- $3,406.04 for married veterans with one child
- $3,684 for married veterans with two parents and a child as their dependants
Your income won’t alter how much you receive each month. VA Pension, on the other hand, is based on income.
VA Pension is for wartime veterans who developed a disability not related to their service. It’s another VA benefit available to you, but it doesn’t provide the same level of assistance.
Additionally, most veterans with mesothelioma developed the cancer due to their time in the military. It would be best if you looked into Disability Compensation first before considering Pension.
Misconception #2: VA Benefits Are Reserved for Veterans Who Went to War
VA benefits are for any veteran who developed a disability primarily due to their military service. It’s not restricted just for veterans who went to war.
Carl Jewett is a VA-Accredited Claims Agent and a Veterans Advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. He served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years and now speaks with veterans daily about filing for VA benefits.
He often hears hesitation in their voices.
“They see these guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and think, ‘Those guys are really the ones who are deserving, and I shouldn’t file,’” Carl explained. “I help them understand that this isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s not like if you get benefits, then that takes it away from someone else.”
For veterans with mesothelioma, the cause of their disability is from exposure to asbestos. Military personnel were exposed daily to asbestos, a toxin that can infiltrate your body and irritate cells. This agitation is how cells mutate, multiply and form tumors, which is the genesis of mesothelioma.
For decades, the military used asbestos to build ships, aircraft, barracks and more. The substance is fire-resistant, cheap to produce and easily accessible.
That exposure led to many thousands of veterans developing this cancer. They should be compensated, whether they went to war or not.
Misconception #3: VA Benefits Are the Same as VA Health Care
VA benefits are not limited to VA health care. VA benefits include many methods to help veterans with a disability. VA health care encompasses one of those benefits — providing health coverage for veterans in need of mesothelioma treatment.
If you have private insurance, you can still receive other VA benefits, such as Disability Compensation. Receiving financial assistance from the VA is not dependent on having VA health care.
“If they are resistant about VA benefits because they don’t want VA health care,” Carl said, “then I make them understand that there are other benefits like Disability Compensation and Pension that they may be eligible for.”
Misconception #4: Your Age Affects Your Eligibility for VA Benefits
Your age does not affect your eligibility for VA benefits. Neither does your employment status.
“While disability compensation is intended to compensate you for lost wages, the reality is it doesn’t matter if you were working or not when you were diagnosed,” Carl said. “The VA’s attitude is, ‘If you wanted to work, you can’t because you have a service-connected condition.’”
If you’re age 75, retired and drawing from Social Security, you can still file a VA claim for Disability Compensation. If you’re age 45 and unable to work full time due to your cancer, you can also file for Disability Compensation.
The only aspect considered in approving or denying a VA claim is whether your mesothelioma was primarily caused by your military service. If you were exposed to asbestos — and can prove that your exposure as a military member is the root of your cancer — then you’re eligible for VA Disability Compensation.
Misconception #5: Receiving VA Benefits Means You Can’t Take Legal Action
If you file a VA claim and get approval for VA benefits, you still have legal rights. Your mesothelioma is not your fault — it’s the fault of companies that produced and sold asbestos to the military.
They knew asbestos was deadly, and they put you and many of your fellow brave Americans at risk. They should be legally disciplined for their actions.
You can seek mesothelioma compensation through a lawsuit or asbestos trust fund. That doesn’t change just because you receive monthly benefits from the VA. You’re entitled to your VA assistance and also deserving of retribution from the companies that endangered you in the first place.
If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, Carl can help you file a VA claim and look into other options. If you have any additional misconceptions or unanswered questions about how VA claims work, Carl is your greatest asset. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to speak with him further. You can also call him at 844-VET-MESO (844-838-6376).
Sources & Author
- Asbestos and Mesothelioma. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from:
https://www.boston.va.gov/services/surgical/Asbestos_and_Mesothelioma.asp. Accessed: 03/05/2020.
- About VA health benefits. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/. Accessed: 03/05/2020.
- Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables – Effective 12/1/19. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from:
https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/resources_comp01.asp. Accessed: 03/05/2020.
Sources & Author