VA Benefits for Mesothelioma

Quick Summary

There are a variety of VA benefits available for veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. From receiving nursing care to financial support for your spouse and children — regardless of how long ago your service was. Veterans may get monthly financial benefits to help with the cost of living and treatment expenses.

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Benefits for Military Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma develops after prolonged exposure to asbestos. After asbestos fibers are inhaled they can cause cell damage and cancerous tumors. Veterans have a higher risk of getting mesothelioma than those who didn’t serve their country in the United States Armed Forces.

The U.S. military used asbestos until the 1980s to make certain materials fireproof and heat-resistant. Asbestos materials weren’t fully replaced until decades later. This left many veterans at high-risk for developing mesothelioma later in life.

Veterans suffering from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos during their service in the military are eligible for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Available benefits may include:

  • VA Disability Compensation
  • VA Pension
  • VA Health Care for dependents
  • Funeral & Burial Reimbursement
  • Aid and Attendance (A&A)
  • Housebound Benefits
  • VA Health Care
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)
  • Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Survivor Pension (also called Death Pension)

Veterans asbestos exposure occurred in all branches of the military: 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 VA benefits.

Common Myths About VA Benefits

Over 30% of mesothelioma patients are veterans. Many veterans may not be aware that they qualify for VA benefits. Below are some of the common myths about VA benefits.

My military service was too long ago to get benefits.

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 the cancer takes decades to develop.

This is why veterans with mesothelioma who can prove they were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military are entitled to VA financial compensation and health care benefits.

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.

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.

If a veteran’s exposure to asbestos is related back to their service in the U.S. Armed Forces, they are entitled to “100% Disability.” This is known as service-connected disability compensation and is not affected by any other sources of income a veteran may have.

These 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 reserve 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 benefits with the VA.

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 has a 100% disability rating on the VA’s scale. In addition, an allowance is provided if you have dependents. Medical evidence must be provided in order to obtain disability benefits. A pathology report submitted with your disability application is often sufficient evidence.

  • 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. 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.

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 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.

To access VA pension, veterans must fall under one of these 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 (VSO) that Aid & Attendance is only available to veterans who qualify for VA Pension. However, veterans who are receiving VA disability compensation 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 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 only correctable to 5/200 in both eyes
  • You require a caregiver to perform everyday functions such as dressing, bathing, shaving, using toilet facilities, preparing meals, or managing your finances

Housebound Benefits

Veterans who cannot leave their homes 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.

Health Care for Veterans

To receive this benefit, veterans must be enrolled in the VA Health Care System.

Did you know?

Those already enrolled can receive treatment at any VA hospital. This means they are eligible for treatment options 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.

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


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.

Any mesothelioma patients already enrolled in the VA Health Care System can receive free treatment from Dr. Lebenthal or Dr. Cameron. 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 them.

The Boston VA has treated mesothelioma patients from all parts of the country.

“At VA Boston we are proud to welcome and treat all eligible veterans regardless of where they live.”

– Boston VA Hosptial

Those veterans not already enrolled in the VA Health Care 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 Prisoners of War (POWs).

VA Benefits for Spouses and Dependent Children

Spouses and children of veterans who die from a service-related disability are eligible for VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (VA 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.

VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC)

The VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA 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.

  • 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. You can still qualify for VA 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 (CHAMPVA) is designed to share health care 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:

  • 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

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 law.

This process is now done through automated systems. Families no longer have to be reimbursed for the 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 on or after September 11th, 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 whether they served during a wartime period or during peacetime. Funeral honors teams perform funeral honors at national and private cemeteries.

  • What To Expect at a VA Funeral

    Two service members in full dress 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, 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 VA. The headstone can be delivered to any cemetery around the world, regardless of the cause of death.

Survivors Pension

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 Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, the VA will deduct certain expenses, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, for the purpose of qualifying a veteran’s family member for a 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, what asbestos products they used, 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 asbestos use occurring in those jobs.

Did you know?

The key to getting approved for benefits related to mesothelioma, or any other asbestos-related 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.

Generally, the VA will have veterans filing a claim undergo a medical examination to determine if their disability is service-related and to 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 (medical records) and provided sufficient details about their asbestos exposure in their claim.

The VA-accredited Claims Agents at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center can assist veterans in providing the VA with all required documents. We 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.

Many of 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 documents. They can review your case and make sure you get all the benefits you deserve.

Most importantly, our agents can alleviate some of your stress and worries so you can focus on your health and spending time with loved ones.

Reasons to seek VA benefits:

  • Reduce your financial strain created by medical expenses
  • Consultations with a Claims Agent are free
  • You earned these veterans benefits by 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.

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 2 Sources
  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Boston Healthcare System. “Asbestos and Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: Accessed on September 25th, 2017.
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Compensation - Asbestos Exposure.” Retrieved from: Accessed on September 25th, 2017.
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