VA Benefits for Mesothelioma

Quick Summary

There are a variety of VA benefits available for veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Veterans and their families may get monthly financial payouts to help with living expenses. As of 2021, many veterans with mesothelioma receive over $3,300 each month thanks to their VA benefits. Health care benefits are also available, meaning veterans can access treatment from specialists. Our team can help you file for mesothelioma VA benefits today.

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Benefits for Military Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma develops after prolonged exposure to asbestos. The U.S. military used toxic asbestos until the 1980s to make fireproof and heat-resistant materials without knowing its dangers.

Veterans have a higher risk of mesothelioma than non-veterans due to the widespread use of asbestos by the military. In fact, over 30% of mesothelioma patients are veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hopes to right this wrong by providing veterans with mesothelioma high-quality medical care and financial aid.

Asbestos exposure occurred in all branches of the Armed Forces: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. If you served in any branch and developed an asbestos-related illness as a result, you may be able to receive mesothelioma veterans benefits.

Your VA benefits may include:

Your family members may also qualify for a variety of VA benefits.

VA benefits for survivors include:

How To File a Claim For Mesothelioma VA Benefits

In order to access mesothelioma VA benefits, veterans will likely need to file a postservice claim. This is because veterans typically develop mesothelioma 20-50 years after being exposed to asbestos in the military.

Below, learn about the steps to file a mesothelioma VA claim — and whether our team may be able to help.

1. Determine Eligibility

You may be eligible for mesothelioma VA benefits if you:

  • Served on active duty or had active duty/inactive duty training
  • Developed mesothelioma due to your military service
  • Were honorably discharged
Not sure if you qualify?

We can help determine if you may be able to access mesothelioma veterans benefits and additional financial compensation.

You may qualify for other types of mesothelioma compensation even if you can’t receive VA benefits.

Contact our team today.

2. Gather Evidence

If you’re eligible to file for mesothelioma veterans benefits, the VA recommends that you gather evidence to support your claim before you file it.

This evidence may include:

  • Any evidence that you were exposed to asbestos before/after military service
  • Information about how you were exposed to asbestos in the military
  • Medical records of your diagnosis

You should also provide a detailed exposure summary letter with a claim. The key to getting mesothelioma VA benefits is to tie your exposure back to military service. You must show that at least 50% of your “occupational” exposure occurred in the military — not in your civilian career.

Your exposure summary letter should explain:

  • Where you were stationed during the exposure
  • How you were exposed
  • What asbestos products you were exposed to
  • The extent of the exposure

The VA-accredited Claims Agents at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help you gather the right documents and records needed for your claim.

3. Medical Examination

Generally, the VA will have veterans filing a claim undergo a medical examination to see if their disability is service-related and to assess the level of disability.

Since asbestos is a known toxin, the VA classifies mesothelioma as a “presumed disability.” This means that you may be able to bypass this examination if you have enough evidence to support your claim.

4. File the Mesothelioma VA Benefits Claim

Once you’ve gathered the right supporting information, it’s time to file your claim. As of 2021, you’ll need VA Form 21-526EZ to file for mesothelioma VA benefits.

You may file your claim:

  • By mail
  • In person
  • Online
  • With the help of VA-accredited attorneys

The VA strongly recommends working with a VA-accredited representative (such as a lawyer) to make the process as easy as possible for you. Without help, filing a claim can be confusing and frustrating — meaning there could be mistakes made that cause your claim to be delayed or rejected.

5. Await a Decision and Receive Benefits

Once the claim and the supporting evidence has been submitted, the VA will review the claim.

“Each claim is different, but it usually takes us about 3 to 4 months to process a claim from start to finish. The processing time for your claim depends on how complex your claim is and how many conditions you’ve claimed.”

– U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The process may take longer if there is not enough evidence to support your claim. Some claims may be delayed or even rejected. This is why it’s key to work with VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyers who can help you file without any mistakes.

Once your claim is approved, you can start to receive your mesothelioma VA benefits.

Learn more about filing a claim for Mesothelioma VA benefits.
Call (877) 450-8973.

Types of VA Benefits for Mesothelioma Patients

VA Disability Compensation

Those suffering from a disability directly related to military service — such as mesothelioma stemming from military asbestos exposure — may qualify for veterans disability compensation.

The VA recognizes both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma as disabilities that are only caused by asbestos. Further, mesothelioma has a 100% disability rating on the VA’s scale. This means affected veterans often get the highest amounts of compensation possible.

That said, medical evidence must be provided in order to obtain disability benefits. A pathology report submitted with your disability application is often enough proof to qualify.

  • VA Compensation Amounts

    Veterans approved for VA disability compensation for mesothelioma receive $3,146.42 per month if single and $3,321.85 per month if married.

Disability is a tax-free benefit. Additional money may be available if the veteran has dependent children or needs the aid and attendance of another person. Veterans who have been dishonorably discharged are not eligible.

Learn how to receive VA benefits worth $3,000+ a month.
Call (877) 450-8973.

VA Pension

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 Sep. 7, 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.

Veterans must also fall under one of these categories:

  • Older than 65
  • Permanently disabled
  • Receiving skilled nursing care in a nursing home
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Receiving supplemental security income

In addition, annual family income must fall below the amount set by Congress.

Aid and Attendance (A&A)

This benefit is for veterans who need a caregiver. A&A can help veterans with mesothelioma improve their quality of life by allowing them to afford third-party care.

There is a common misconception among veterans and their Veteran Service Officers (VSO) that Aid and Attendance is only available to veterans who qualify for a VA pension. However, veterans who are receiving VA disability compensation can also receive A&A.

You may qualify for A&A if:

  • You are bedridden
  • You are living in a nursing home due to a physical or mental incapacity
  • You have eyesight that is correctable to only 5/200 in both eyes
  • You require a caregiver to perform daily tasks such as dressing, bathing, shaving, or using the bathroom

Housebound Benefits

Veterans who cannot leave their homes due to a disability may be eligible for housebound benefits. The veteran must qualify for VA disability compensation or a pension plan to get this benefit.

If eligible, housebound benefits are added to VA disability or pension payouts in the form of extra compensation.

Mesothelioma Veterans GuideGet a FREE Veterans Packet

Get information on:

  • Treatment Options
  • Mesothelioma Specialists
  • Veterans Benefits

Get a Free Veterans Packet

Health Care for Veterans

Veterans can use VA health care to get treatments from mesothelioma specialists at select VA hospitals.

The VA has two world-renowned mesothelioma thoracic surgeons who devote part of their time to treating veterans. These specialists are Dr. Abraham (Avi) Lebenthal in Boston and Dr. Robert Cameron in Los Angeles.

Any mesothelioma patient already enrolled in the VA Health Care System can receive free or low-cost treatment from Dr. Lebenthal or Dr. Cameron. If the veteran gets a referral to one of these doctors from their local VA doctor, the VA may pay for travel expenses.

Visit the UCLA Health website to learn more about Dr. Robert Cameron.

Disclaimer

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

To receive this benefit, veterans must be enrolled in the VA Health Care System, have a service-related disability, meet the VA’s income limits, or belong to a special group of veterans, such as Purple Heart recipients, those exposed to Agent Orange, or Prisoners of War (POWs).

VA Benefits for Spouses and Dependent Children

Spouses and children of veterans who pass away from mesothelioma also may be eligible for VA benefits. These benefits can be used any time up to 10 years after the VA rules them eligible.

VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC)

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) is a form of tax-free compensation paid to survivors of a military veteran. For a family to be eligible, their loved one must have died in the line of duty or from a service-related disability like mesothelioma.

  • VA DIC Amounts

    VA DIC starts at $1,357.56 per month for surviving spouses if the veteran passed away on or after January 1, 1993. It is higher for spouses with dependent children or those who are housebound or require a caregiver

VA DIC is not automatically paid once a married veteran dies from a service-related disability. The surviving spouse of a veteran who died from mesothelioma must apply for VA DIC with the VA.

Survivors Pension

Spouses and dependents of a deceased veteran may qualify for survivors pension (also called death pension). Survivors pensions are specifically for low-income families. Families must be under certain limits established by Congress for net worth and yearly income to qualify.

All income is counted with the exception of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The VA will deduct certain expenses (such as out-of-pocket medical costs) for the purpose of qualifying a veteran’s family member for a pension.

A veteran’s service also affects eligibility.

Veteran factors that impact survivors pension include:

  • Duration of service
  • If they served in wartime
  • When they entered active duty

Limits for survivor pension vary depending on the survivor’s income, net worth, and other factors.

VA Health Care Through CHAMPVA

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) serves as VA health care for the family members of disabled or deceased veterans. CHAMPVA allows qualifying family members to access health care at a lower cost.

To be eligible for the program, you must:

  • Be the spouse or child of a veteran who is totally disabled from a service-related condition
  • Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a service-related condition
  • Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was totally disabled at the time of death

Funeral & Burial Reimbursement

The VA now pays burial expenses without a written application, so surviving family members can receive the maximum monetary burial benefits allowed by law. The process is now done through an automated system.

This update is very helpful. Prior to this change, families may have had to pay for the funeral costs upfront and then wait to get reimbursed by the VA.

For deaths related to a veteran’s service, the VA will pay up to $2,000 if the death occurred on or after Sep. 11, 2001. If the death was prior to that date, the VA will pay $1,500.

Funeral Honors

The Department of Defense provides military funeral honors to all veterans regardless of when they served. Funeral honors are performed at both national and private cemeteries. Most funeral directors can help families access funeral honors.

What To Expect for a VA Funeral

Two service members in uniform will provide a U.S. flag to be draped over the coffin. The flag is then folded during the ceremony in precise military fashion. Taps will be played during the appropriate portion of the ceremony.

Free Military Headstone

Free military headstones are given at no charge for eligible veterans, regardless of the cause of death. The next of kin can apply for a headstone with the VA, and it can be delivered to any cemetery around the world.

Getting Your VA Benefits

Though applying for mesothelioma veterans benefits may seem like a long process, our team is here to help.

Our Claims Agents are experienced dealing with the ins and outs of filing for mesothelioma VA benefits — and many of them are veterans themselves. They can review your case and help you pursue all the benefits you deserve.

Most importantly, our Claims Agents can ease some of your stress so that you can focus on your health and spending time with loved ones.

Reasons to seek mesothelioma VA benefits:

  • Consultations with a Claims Agent are free
  • You can reduce financial strains
  • You earned these veterans benefits by serving your country

Get in contact with one of our VA-accredited Claims Agents now.

Mesothelioma VA Benefits: Common Questions

I served in the military decades ago. Can I still get VA benefits?

Yes. The VA is aware that asbestos was widely used in the U.S. Armed Forces. The VA also recognizes that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma and that it takes decades to develop. This is why veterans with mesothelioma who prove they were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military may receive VA benefits.

If I get VA benefits, will I be forced to see a VA doctor?

No. 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 continue treatment through their civilian doctors, not through the VA.

Is my income too high to get mesothelioma veterans benefits?

No. While some VA benefits are meant to help low-income veterans, there are benefits for all mesothelioma patients regardless of income. Monthly financial benefits and VA health care can provide additional peace and security for you and your family.

Are there time limits to file a mesothelioma VA benefits claim?

No, but try to file your claim as soon as possible for best results. The sooner you file for mesothelioma VA benefits, the sooner your claim can be processed — and you and your family won’t get any benefits until this happens. Further, since mesothelioma can spread quickly, filing for benefits shortly after a diagnosis is important.

How does the VA rate asbestosis claims?

Asbestosis, a non-cancerous disease caused by asbestos exposure, is rated by the VA using the same process used to rate mesothelioma cases. Speaking with our Claims Agents can give you a better idea of compensation rates for asbestosis in your specific situation.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

View 12 Sources
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  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Compensation - Asbestos Exposure.” Retrieved from: https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-asbestos.asp. Accessed on September 25th, 2017.
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, October 1). Compensation: Burial Benefits. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp
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