There are different kinds of VA benefits available for veterans with mesothelioma. It doesn’t matter how long ago your service was. Veterans may get monthly financial benefits to help with cost of living and treatment expenses.
Benefits for Military Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma develops after prolonged exposure to asbestos. After asbestos fibers are breathed in, they can cause cell damage and cancerous tumors. Veterans have a higher risk of getting mesothelioma than the those who weren’t in the military.
The military used asbestos until the late-1970s to make certain materials fireproof and heat-resistant. Asbestos materials weren’t fully replaced until decades later. This left many veterans at risk for developing mesothelioma later in life.
Veterans suffering from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos during military service are eligible for VA benefits.
Available benefits may include:
- VA Disability Compensation
- VA Pension
- Aid & Attendance
- Housebound Benefits
- VA Health Care
- Funeral Honors
- Benefits for Spouses and Dependent Children
- Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
- Survivor Pension (also called Death Pension)
- VA Health Care for dependents through Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
- No-Cost Military Headstone
- Funeral & Burial Reimbursement
Common Myths About VA Benefits
Over 30 percent of mesothelioma patients are veterans and many of them don’t think they qualify for VA benefits. Below are some of the common myths about VA benefits.
- Myth #1 – My military service was too long ago to get benefits. The VA is aware that asbestos was widely used in the military. The VA also recognizes that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma and it takes decades to develop. This is why veterans with mesothelioma who can prove they were exposed to asbestos in the military can get VA compensation.
- Myth #2 – If I get VA benefits, I will be forced to see a VA doctor. A common misconception among veterans with mesothelioma is that if they file for VA disability compensation, they will be forced to get treatment through the VA Health Care system. While veterans approved for VA disability compensation are eligible for free VA Health Care, there is no requirement that they use it. Most veterans with private health insurance opt not to use the VA and continue treatment through their civilian doctors.
- Myth #3 – My income is too high to get benefits. While some VA benefits are meant to help low-income veterans, there are benefits for all eligible mesothelioma patients regardless of income. The added security of monthly benefits can provide additional peace and security for you and your family.
Types of VA Benefits for Mesothelioma Patients
Veterans who have developed mesothelioma have the option to file an asbestos-related disability compensation claim with the VA.
The majority of your asbestos exposure must have occurred during active duty or inactive duty training in order for you to qualify for VA benefits.
Did You Know? The VA recognizes both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma as disabilities that are only caused by asbestos. We can assist in helping you file for these.
Below are the benefits you may qualify for if you are a veteran suffering from mesothelioma.
VA Disability Compensation
Veterans suffering from a disability directly related to their military service, may qualify for disability compensation. This includes mesothelioma resulting from military asbestos exposure. Veterans who have been dishonorably discharged are not eligible.
Disability is a tax-free benefit. Mesothelioma is covered at 100 percent on the VA’s disability scale. In addition, an allowance is provided if you have dependents. Medical evidence must be provided in order to obtain disability compensation. A pathology report submitted with your disability application is often sufficient evidence.
Did You Know? Veterans approved for VA Disability Compensation for mesothelioma receive $2,906 per month if single and $3,068 per month if married. We can help you with filing for your VA benefits.
Additional benefits are available if the veteran has dependent children or is in need of the aid and attendance of another person.
Pensions are provided to low-income, disabled wartime veterans. In order to qualify for a VA pension, a veteran must have had 90 days of active duty service or more. At least one of those days must have occurred during a wartime period.
Veterans entering active duty after September 7th, 1980, must have served 24 months or the full period during which they were called to active duty. One of those days had to be during a wartime period. In addition, annual family income must fall below the amount set by U.S. Congress.
Veterans receiving a VA pension must fall under one of the following categories:
- Older than 65
- Permanently disabled
- Receiving skilled nursing care in a nursing home
- Receiving social security disability insurance
- Receiving supplemental security income
Aid & Attendance (A&A)
This benefit is for veterans who need a caregiver. There is a common misconception among veterans and their Veteran Service Officers that Aid & Attendance is only available to veterans who qualify for VA Pension. However, veterans who are receiving VA Disability are also eligible to receive additional compensation in the form of A&A.
Veterans who qualify for a VA disability or pension and require care from another person might qualify for additional compensation.
You may qualify for Aid & Attendance if you fall under one of the following categories:
- You require a caregiver to perform everyday functions such as, dressing, bathing, shaving, using the toilet facilities, preparing meals, or managing your finances.
- You are bedridden
- You are living in a nursing home due to a physical or mental incapacity
- You have eyesight that is only correctable to 5/200 in both eyes
Veterans who cannot leave their home due to a permanent disability may be eligible for housebound benefits. This is an additional benefit for disabled veterans. The veteran must also qualify for a VA disability or pension to get housebound benefits. If eligible, housebound benefits are added to VA disability compensation or pension in the form of additional compensation.
Healthcare for Veterans
In order to receive this benefit, veterans must be enrolled in the VA Healthcare System. Those already enrolled can receive treatment at any VA hospital. This means they are eligible for treatment by one of the VA’s mesothelioma specialists. It doesn’t matter where they live or currently receive VA care.
The VA has two world-renowned mesothelioma thoracic surgeons who devote part of their time treating veterans at their nearby VA hospitals. They are Dr. Abraham (Avi) Lebenthal in Boston and Dr. Robert Cameron in Los Angeles.
Did You Know? Any mesothelioma patients already enrolled in the VA Healthcare System can receive free treatment from Dr. Lebenthal or Dr. Cameron. And if the veteran can get their local VA doctor to give them a referral to one of these doctors, the VA will pay the expense of traveling to see that doctor.
The Boston VA has treated mesothelioma patients from all over. “At VA Boston we are proud to welcome and treat all eligible veterans regardless of where they live,” says the Boston VA on its website. “Currently we have cared for Veterans with [mesothelioma] from 15 states.”
Those veterans not already enrolled in the VA Healthcare System can apply for enrollment. To qualify, veterans must have a service-related disability, meet the VA’s income limits, or belong to a special group of veterans, such as those exposed to Agent Orange, Purple Heart recipients, or POWs to name a few.
VA Benefits for Spouses and Dependent Children
Spouses and children of veterans who die from a service-related disability are eligible for Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Some family members are eligible for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, also referred to as CHAMPVA. Spouses and children of disabled veterans are also eligible for educational benefits under the VA’s Dependents’ Educational Assistance program. These benefits can be used any time up to 10 years after the VA rules them eligible. These benefits last for 3 years and 9 months at a degree, certificate, or work training program.
Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit is tax-free compensation that is paid to eligible survivors of a military veteran. A service member must have died in the line of duty or from a service-related disability to be eligible. DIC starts at $1,254 per month for surviving spouses. It is higher for spouses with dependent children or those who are housebound or require a caregiver.
DIC is not automatically paid once a married veteran dies from a service related disability. The surviving spouse of a veteran who dies from mesothelioma must apply for DIC with the VA. You can still qualify for DIC if the VA didn’t qualify the veteran’s disease as service-related.
VA Health Care Through CHAMPVA
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA, is designed to share healthcare costs with eligible persons. It’s VA health care for the family members of disabled or deceased veterans.
To be eligible for the program, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Be the spouse or child of a veteran ruled “totally and permanently” disabled from a service-related condition or disease
- Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a service-related condition or disease
- Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was ruled totally and permanently disabled at the time of death
The Department of Defense provides military funeral honors to all veterans. This is regardless of whether they served during a wartime period or during peacetime. Funeral Honors teams perform funeral honors at National cemeteries and private cemeteries.
This includes two service members in full dress uniform who will provide a U.S. Flag to be draped over the coffin. The flag is then folded during the ceremony in precise military fashion, as well as playing taps during the appropriate portion of the ceremony. The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration handles all funeral honors requests. Most funeral directors can assist families in applying for funeral honors.
Free Military Headstone
Free military headstones are dispensed at no charge for eligible veterans. The next of kin can apply for a headstone with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The headstone can be delivered to any cemetery around the world, regardless of the cause of death.
Funeral & Burial Reimbursement
As of July 7th, 2014, the VA is now paying funeral benefits without a written application. This allows surviving family members to receive the maximum monetary burial benefits allowed by the law. The process is now done through automated systems. Families no longer have to be reimbursed for costs that they have already incurred. For deaths related to a veteran’s service, the VA will pay up to $2,000 if the death occurred after September 11th, 2001. If the death was prior to that date, the VA will pay $1,500.
Spouses and dependents of a deceased veteran may qualify for survivor pension (also called death pension). The veteran must have served during a period of war and meet the VA’s income threshold.
All income is counted, with the exception of SSI, but the VA will deduct certain expenses (such as out of pocket medical expenses) for the purpose of qualifying a veteran’s family member for pension. Income limits for survivor pension vary depending on the survivor’s medical condition.
Filing a Claim For Benefits
Veterans that file a disability claim for an asbestos disease must show that they were exposed during their military service. Veterans should provide a detailed exposure summary letter with their claim, explaining where they were stationed during their exposure, how they were exposed, and the extent of the exposure.
Veterans must also provide information about their civilian careers, both before and after their military service, and provide any information about any exposures to asbestos occurring in those jobs.
Did You Know? The key to getting approved for mesothelioma, or any other asbestos disease, rests in convincing the VA that at least 50% of the veterans “occupational” exposure occurred in the military, and not in the veteran’s civilian career. Our VA Support Team has years of experience in helping veterans write their exposure summary.
Generally, the VA will have veterans filing a claim, undergo a medical examination to determine if their disability is service related, and assess the level of disability. However, veterans with mesothelioma are usually not required to undergo one of these examinations, as long as they have provided the appropriate medical evidence and provided sufficient details about their asbestos exposure in their claim.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center’s VA Claim Agents can help veterans provide the VA with all required documents. They can even help veterans with mesothelioma avoid going to the VA for a physical examination.
Getting Your VA Benefits
Though applying for VA benefits can seem like a long process, there are people who can help. Our VA Claims Agents are veterans themselves. They are people who are experienced dealing with the ins and outs of the VA and the process of filing for documents. They can review your case and make sure you get all the benefits you deserve. Most importantly, our agents can keep you stress-free.
Reasons to seek VA benefits:
- Reduce your financial strain created by medical expenses.
- Consultations with a claims agent is free.
- You earned these benefits through serving your country.
Get in contact with one of our VA-accredited claims agents now. They can help you with all the details of your case.