Veterans and Mesothelioma
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides several different compensation, benefits and assistance options to veterans who develop mesothelioma. Some of these compensation options are available regardless of whether the veteran's mesothelioma is service-related. There is also financial assistance for the surviving loved ones of mesothelioma veterans who passed away due to the disease.
How Can I Receive My VA Benefits?
Veterans make up the largest group of people diagnosed with mesothelioma because asbestos was so widely used by the military until the 1980s. Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may qualify for Disability Compensation, Pension and/or medical care through the VA. Surviving spouses and dependents may also qualify for Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivor Pension and Aid & Attendance.
Asbestos Diseases Are Recognized by the VA
Veterans with mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer can receive monthly compensation from the VA, such as through Disability Compensation or Pension. Learn how you and your family can get access to these benefits with our free Veteran’s Support Guide.
Help Filing a Claim
Free help is available to veterans filing claims with the VA. Filing VA claims can be a confusing process for veterans who go it alone. Our Veterans Service Representatives specialize in asbestos-related disease claims.
Caregivers and Dependents
The VA offers benefits to support veteran caregivers as well as compensation for a patient’s dependents.
Get VA Benefits for Mesothelioma
Commander Jewett can help veterans and dependents with:
- Filing for VA Disability Compensation and/or Pension (starts at $3,027/month).
- Spouses and children filing for survivor benefits.
- Filing for Aid & Attendance (A&A) or housebound benefits.
Filing VA Claims
There are multiple ways to file an asbestos-related disability compensation claim with the VA. Veterans can elect to have their claim adjudicated under the standard processing rules, or they can elect to file an expedited claim under the “fully developed claim” rules. Determining which is best for you requires the expert advice and guidance of a skilled veteran service representative.
Veterans Service Representatives
Veterans Service Representatives (VSRs) are individuals who are skilled at dealing with the VA and are available free of charge to help veterans file a claim. Filing a claim with the VA can be tedious and confusing, which makes the experience of a VSR invaluable. Because most representatives have experience dealing with the VA, the probability of a successful claim is much higher with their help.
Aside from ensuring the best chances of a successful claim, VSRs also take stress off patients and their families. Service officers and claims agents give veterans peace of mind during the claims process. Our Veterans Service Representative, Carl Jewett, is a VA-Accredited Claims Agent with more than 10 years of experience in assisting veterans in filing asbestos-related VA claims. He is a 24-year retired Navy veteran who has helped thousands of veterans with asbestos diseases get approved for VA Disability Compensation from the VA.
For more information check out LCDR Jewett’s 3 Things Every Veteran with Mesothelioma Needs To Know. You can also get more information about VA claims in our Mesothelioma Guide podcast with Commander Jewett. He explains why VSRs like himself can simplify the VA claims process and get you approved quicker than usual.
VA Claims Process
Eligibility Criteria and Process
In order to file a claim with the VA, a veteran must meet specific criteria and complete the filing process. In order to be eligible, the veteran must have been diagnosed with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, have the medical documentation for that diagnosis (pathology report or cytology report from a biopsy), and must not have been dishonorably discharged. To qualify, the veteran must convince the VA that they had more asbestos exposure in the military than they did in their civilian jobs. To do this, the veterans must submit an exposure summary letter to the VA detailing their military career and their exposures to asbestos, and then in contrast, must provide information regarding their civilian jobs both before and after their military service.
The filing process goes as follows:
- 1The patient files their application, supporting documentation and an asbestos exposure summary along with any medical records that support the diagnosis, such as a pathology report from a tissue biopsy or a cytology report from a fluid biopsy.
- 2The VA reviews the form(s) submitted.
- 3In rare cases, the patient undergoes a physical medical examination at their local VA hospital. Most patients can skip this step with the help of a claims agent.
- 4The VA orders the veteran’s service record and military medical record from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
- 5The VA makes a decision regarding the compensation for the veteran after they evaluate the patient’s complete record, called a C-file.
- 6The veteran receives a back pay check for the period between his claim submission and approval. The veteran then receives a disability check every first of the month.
The most important part of this process is when the VA determines the level of asbestos exposure during time in the military and during occupations as a civilian. This is required as evidence to establish the relationship between the veteran’s asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma. Our VA-Accredited Claims Agent specializes in assisting veterans in writing their exposure summary letters for free.
VA Benefits & Compensation
The VA takes a few factors into account when determining the type and amount of compensation for mesothelioma claims. The first factor considered is whether the claim is based on illnesses taking place before, during or after service; because of the long latency period between exposure and diagnosis, most mesothelioma claims are considered post-service.
After the VA determines if a veteran is eligible for benefits, the degree of the veteran’s disability is taken into account. The VA rates a veteran’s level of disability on a scale from 0 percent to 100 percent, measured in 10 percent intervals. However, mesothelioma veterans and asbestos lung cancer patients almost always receive a 100 percent disability rating. The age and retirement status of the veteran is not a consideration in approving Disability Compensation, nor is it considered in the rating decision.
Lastly, the VA considers whether the veteran has a spouse or any dependents. Single veterans receive $3,057 in compensation a month but can collect more given their marital and dependent status. For example, married veterans receive at least $3,227 per month. A veteran with a spouse and child receives at least $3,352 per month.
VA Caregiver Support
Veterans can also receive additional compensation if they are in need of regular Aid & Attendance, or are Housebound. This money is intended to help offset the costs associated with hiring a caregiver to assist the veteran in their home, but mesothelioma veterans being cared for by a spouse or relative can still receive Aid & Attendance or Housebound compensation.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Dependents and survivors of veterans may also qualify for benefits from the VA. The VA offers Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) to surviving dependents of veterans who died from service-related diseases and disabilities. The veteran’s discharge must have been under circumstances that were not dishonorable to be eligible for benefits.