FAQ – Veterans with Mesothelioma
Veterans are the largest group of victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Learn the most frequently asked questions about veterans with mesothelioma.
VA Benefits for Veterans with Mesothelioma
Q: Why do veterans make up such a large percentage of mesothelioma diagnoses each year?
Of all the occupations that exposed people to asbestos, none were exposed to as much asbestos as the United States military; especially those sailors, guardsmen and marines stationed onboard military ships and submarines. Over the course of just 50 years, nearly 5 million veterans had prolonged exposure to asbestos during shipbuilding and shipboard operations. Because of this, over 30% of all mesothelioma patients are US veterans.
Q: Which branches of the military are most at risk for exposure?
While every branch of the armed services used asbestos products in a variety of ways (aircraft, barracks, vehicles, etc.), United States Navy Sailors and Marines stationed onboard ships were the most at risk. One of the largest uses of asbestos was in the construction of US warships. Anyone who worked on or around these ships, especially during their construction, overhaul or decommissioning is at risk for developing mesothelioma.
Q: How does a veteran file a disability claim with the VA?
If a veteran believes that the majority of his occupational exposure to asbestos occurred on active duty, then the appropriate benefit to file for is VA Disability Compensation. We provide free assistance to veterans in filing their disability claims with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). We walk them through the application form and then submit it to the VA with a copy of their pathology report stating that they have mesothelioma, along with additional supporting documentation. Once the diagnosis is verified, the VA will compare the veteran’s exposure in the military to any exposure in their civilian career, both before and after their military service. If the VA believes that the veteran suffered at least as much exposure to asbestos in the military as they did in their civilian career, they will approve the claim, back pay them to the month in which they filed, and then pay them their disability compensation on the 1st day of each month thereafter.
Q: How much does the VA pay in disability compensation?
The amount of disability compensation paid to a veteran depends on the awarded disability level (0% to 100% in 10% increments), the number of dependents, and if the veteran or his dependents are in need of the assistance of another person to accomplish the tasks associated with daily living. For veterans approved for mesothelioma or lung cancer, the rating level awarded is almost always 100%. This equates to just over $2,973/mo for a single veteran, and $3,139/mo for married veterans. Non-malignant asbestos illnesses are rated based on the results of the veteran’s Pulmonary Function Test (PFT).
Q: What does the VA do once they receive a VA Disability Compensation claim?
Once the claim is filed, the VA will review the claim application and supporting documentation. The VA will then send a request to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis , MO, asking that the veteran’s service record and military treatment records be sent to the appropriate VA Regional Office. The VA will then send the veteran a letter acknowledging receipt of the claim. If they VA believes they require any additional information, they will list the information or documentation they need in that letter.
Our Veteran’s Department always attempts to submit fully developed claims (meaning claims that contain all the information and documentation the VA needs to make a decision). Therefore, fully developed claims do not require the submission of any additional information or records, and results in expedited processing through the VA system.
In some cases, the veteran will be asked to undergo an exam at a local VA hospital or health center to have a VA doctor review the veteran’s medical records, assess the likelihood that the claimed disease was caused by the veteran’s military service, and determine the disability rating that should be awarded if the claim is approved. The complete record will then be reviewed by a VA Service Representative and a decision will be made. We can make this process easier by providing veterans with assistance in submitting fully developed claims for expedited processing.
Q: Are there benefits available to veterans with mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses where the majority of the veteran’s exposure occurred in their civilian jobs?
Yes. Veterans with non-service connected disabilities may qualify for VA Pension. To be eligible, a veteran must either be totally disabled or over the age of 65, have at least 90 days on active duty with at least one of those days during a wartime period, and have an annual household income under a specified limit. Because there are different income limits depending on a veteran’s situation, a detailed analysis must be accomplished to determine if the veteran will qualify for VA Pension, and if so, how much they will receive.
Q: What is a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) and how does it differ from a VA Accredited Claims Agent?
A Veteran Service Officer and a VA Accredited Claims Agent play essentially the same role. They are each qualified to assist veterans in applying for VA benefits. The only difference is how they are accredited. A VA Claims Agent is accredited by the VA General Counsel’s Office, where a VSO only needs to be accredited by the organization for which they work (e.g. VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, etc). Enlisting the help of a VSO or a Claims Agent can be very helpful in taking pressure off of veterans in filing for VA benefits. Taking advantage of this option means veterans will have the assistance of someone who understands their situation and is able to walk them through the paperwork and documentation required to submit a VA claim, as well as ensure that information necessary for an approval is included.
Q: Does Mesothelioma Guide have an accredited representative to assist in filing a VA Claim?
Yes. Carl Jewett is our Veteran’s Department Director. He is a retired Naval Officer and a VA Accredited Claims Agent specializing in asbestos related VA claims. He has successfully assisted over 1200 veterans apply for, and get approved for asbestos related disability compensation.
Q: Does filing a VA claim cost me any money?
No. In fact, it is illegal for anyone to charge a veteran for assistance in filing an initial claim for any VA benefit. Beware of any mesothelioma attorney who claims that they will assist you in filing your VA Claim. Mesothelioma Law Firms will often tell prospective veteran clients that they will not only handle their legal claim against the asbestos manufacturing companies, but will also handle their VA Claim as well. But, because they cannot charge you for their assistance, the help they provide to you is usually no more than giving you a VA Application Form and telling you to fill it out and mail it to the VA. This will not get you approved and will instead prolong a decision as the VA will then request that you submit more forms and additional documentation which will delay your claim.
Q: What information/evidence does a veteran have to submit for a disability claim?
Veterans should be prepared to submit all medical records related to their claimed asbestos disease, along with a copy of their DD-214 (military discharge). The VA will also require a detailed letter explaining the veterans entire military and civilian work history, detailing exposures to asbestos. Our VA Accredited Claims Agent, Carl Jewett can assist in helping determine what a veteran was exposed to, and provide veterans with an example exposure summary letter written by another service member with a similar military background. He also ensures that the veteran is making a clear case that he/she had at least as much exposure in their military career as they did in their civilian career.
To contact our Veterans Department with questions or to request assistance in filing a claim, call us toll-free at 844-838-6376, or fill out a VA Claims Assistance form here: VA Claims Assistance Form