Mesothelioma VA Claims for Survivors

All too often, veterans pass away due to mesothelioma. This tragic outcome leaves spouses and children with a major void, both emotionally and financially. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides monthly compensation benefits for surviving loved ones.


Written by LCDR Carl Jewett


Fact Checked


Types of VA Compensation for Survivors

VA claims for mesothelioma are split into two types: Disability Compensation and Pension. Similarly, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and Survivors Pension are the two types of VA compensation for survivors.

Those who qualify are spouses, dependent children and parents. For mesothelioma cases, spouses and dependent children are the most common qualifying survivors.

Around 1,000 veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. A similar rate of veterans pass away due to their cancer. This disease spreads and grows aggressively, with an average prognosis of 1-2 years.

This reality means most cases of veterans with mesothelioma will involve survivors eligible for VA benefits.

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for Mesothelioma

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, often shortened to DIC, is for survivors of veterans who died due to a service-related mesothelioma. The VA determines a service-related mesothelioma by the amount of asbestos exposures that occurred during active duty. At least 50% of the veteran’s occupational exposures must have occurred during service.

The average amount of time to approve or reject a VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation claim is around 102 days.

If the veteran had not filed a VA disability claim prior to their death, then the surviving loved one’s DIC claim must include the claim form, plus the:

  • Medical diagnosis
  • Marriage license
  • DD214 *
  • Asbestos exposure summary
  • Death certificate

* The DD-214 outlines the nature of the veteran’s release or discharge from active duty.

If the veteran already filed a Disability Claim for mesothelioma, then a DIC application only needs the claim form and death certificate.

How Much to Expect From DIC for Mesothelioma

DIC, a tax-free benefit, starts at $1,357 per month for surviving spouses. The amount may increase due to specific variables and factors, such as whether the spouse has a dependent child. Each child younger than 18 adds $336 to the monthly DIC payment. These amounts reflect the December 1, 2020 update.

If you’re a surviving spouse with a dependent child, you’ll also receive an additional $286 per month for the first two years after the veteran’s death. This is called a “transitional benefit.”

Another variable is whether or not the surviving spouse qualifies for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits:

  • Housebound adds $157 to the monthly amount
  • Aid and Attendance adds $336

Example: You’re a surviving spouse with two dependent children. Additionally, you require Aid and Attendance benefits:

  • $1,357.56 monthly foundation rate
  • $336.32 for first child under age 18
  • $336.32 for second child under age 18
  • $336.32 for Aid and Attendance
  • $289 transitional benefit for two years

This equals $2,655.52 per month. After two years, the transitional benefit expires and reduces your monthly amount to $2,366.52.

In some cases, the veteran had a dependent child but was single/not married. A child under age 18 can receive DIC of $573.20 per month from the VA. A child age 18-23 who is in a qualified school program can receive $284.93 per month.

Additional dependent children for a deceased veteran who wasn’t married reduces the monthly amount for each child.

There are other variables and scenarios where survivors can receive more than the base DIC payment. Speak with our on-staff VA claims agent to see if you qualify for compensation.


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VA Survivors Pension for Mesothelioma

While DIC is for surviving dependents of veterans who developed a service-related disease, Survivors Pension helps the spouse or dependent children of wartime veterans with a civilian-related mesothelioma.

Survivors Pension is income-based, and your Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) will largely determine your monthly payment. You’ll then subtract your annual income from this amount, which determines your annual Survivors Pension. This amount is split into 12 monthly payments.

You are permitted to subtract a portion of your out-of-pocket medical expenses from your income, which increases your Survivors Pension.

The length of time to process a VA Survivors Pension claim fluctuates. The VA says it processes claims in the order it receives them.

Eligibility is based on whether the veteran served during a wartime period:

  • World War II (December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean War (June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War period (February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam; August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 through an undetermined future date)

How Much to Expect From VA Survivors Pension for Mesothelioma

The MAPR for Survivors Pension depends on the number of dependent children and whether the surviving spouse is eligible for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits.

The VA website lists the Survivors Pension benefit rates — specifically the MAPR — for each specific circumstance, current as of December 1, 2020.

For surviving spouses with no dependents, the MAPR is:

  • $9,344 (no Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits)
  • $11,420 (Housebound benefits)
  • $14,934 (Aid and Attendance benefits)

Surviving spouses with one dependent child have an MAPR of:

  • $12,229 (no Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits)
  • $14,300 (Housebound benefits)
  • $17,815 (Aid and Attendance benefits)

Each additional dependent child adds $2,382 to the MAPR amount.

Example: You’re a surviving spouse with two dependent children, and you qualify for housebound benefits. Your MAPR will be $16,682, based on:

  • $14,300 for one dependent child and Housebound benefits
  • $2,382 for an additional dependent child

If your income is $8,000 then you’ll receive $8,682 annually at a rate of $723.50 per month.

Unmarried dependent children can also receive VA Survivors Pension. The MAPR listed on the VA website is $2,382. In order to qualify as a dependent child, you must meet one of three criteria:

  • Under age 18
  • Under age 23 and attending a VA-approved school
  • Unable to care for oneself due to a disability that occurred before age 18

Get Help Filing for DIC or Survivors Pension

You don’t have to file for VA benefits on your own. If you’re the surviving spouse or dependent child of a veteran who died due to mesothelioma, our veterans staff can help.

Our VA claims agent Carl Jewett can explain each step of the process. Even better, Carl will handle most of the laborious tasks that often lead to surviving mesothelioma victims getting their VA claims denied.

Carl is a Navy veteran with more than a decade of expertise helping survivors of deceased mesothelioma veterans. Contact him to file your DIC or Survivors Pension claim immediately.

Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Retired LCDR Carl Jewett, VA Claims Agent

LCDR Carl Jewett is a retired Naval Officer who serves as the Veterans Department Director and Patient Services Director at Mesothelioma Guide. He is a VA-Accredited Claims Agent with more than 10 years of experience filing asbestos-related VA claims. He has helped over 1300 veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses get approved for VA Disability Compensation, VA Pension, and/or Aid & Attendance benefits. Because veteran’s are also entitled to compensation through the legal system, Carl has communicated with many mesothelioma law firms across the country. He has gained extensive knowledge of asbestos trust funds, mesothelioma lawsuits, settlements, and the claims process. He provides both veterans and civilians with information regarding their legal options.