Veterans with mesothelioma can file for disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The disability benefit starts at $3,146.42 per month. It is higher for married veterans and/or veterans in need of a caregiver. Learn how to file mesothelioma disability claims and access this compensation.
VA Disability for Veterans With Mesothelioma
VA disability compensation is a monthly tax-free payment granted to veterans who developed malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during their military service. This compensation helps support disabled veterans and their families with daily living and medical expenses.
Many military service members were exposed to asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma, because the United States military used asbestos-based products heavily from the 1930s to the late 1970s.
These toxic products were sold to the military by companies who knew asbestos was dangerous, but, for decades, failed to warn the public or the Armed Forces.
Today, the VA usually offers full disability compensation benefits to qualifying veterans with mesothelioma.
How Much VA Disability Compensation Can I Receive?
Your total disability compensation depends on your disability rating.
Veterans with mesothelioma are almost always awarded a 100% disability rating, meaning they are entitled to the full amount of compensation granted by the military.
In 2020, 100% disability amounts to $3,146.42 per month for a veteran with no spouse or dependents. Mesothelioma veterans with spouses, dependents, and those in need of assistance from a caregiver can receive higher payments.
- VA Disability Claims
- Survivor Benefits
- Finding Veteran Doctors
How To File Mesothelioma Disability Claims
The steps in the VA disability claims process are fairly straightforward but involve proving your eligibility for mesothelioma compensation. Below are the steps for filing a claim.
1. Check Eligibility Requirements
If you are seeking disability compensation from the VA, you can see if you qualify under the official terms below.
To be eligible for VA disability, you must have:
- Served in the U.S. military, either on reserve or active duty
- Been honorably discharged
- Been given a disability rating from your doctor
In addition, at least one of the following must be true:
- You were injured during active service
- You had a pre-existing condition that became worse because of service
- You developed a disability after leaving the military due to past military service
Most mesothelioma claims fall under the third qualification, since mesothelioma takes approximately 20-50 years to be diagnosed after initial asbestos exposure.
2. Fill Out the VA Disability Claim Form
If you are eligible for VA disability compensation, you can fill out a claim form online or print the form and send it to the VA. The form (called the “VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits”) can be found on the VA’s official website.
3. Gather Medical Evidence
You must also submit medical evidence that both proves your mesothelioma diagnosis and directly connects it to your military service.
Several types of evidence can be presented:
- Official medical records of a mesothelioma diagnosis
- Military records showing when and where you served
- Documents showing you worked around asbestos (such as records of specific job duties)
Mesothelioma specialists can help provide the medical records that you’ll need to prove your diagnosis and condition. Supporting statements from family members, clergymen, etc. can also explain your condition and help form a service connection to your current disability.
Proving Military Asbestos Exposure
Because it takes 20-50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to appear, you may no longer remember how you were exposed to asbestos in the military.
Asbestos was also used in the private sector, so former service members who risked occupational asbestos exposure in other jobs must prove that they developed mesothelioma due to their military service instead of their civilian job.
The team at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center has information on asbestos locations from all branches of the military. To receive help providing evidence to the VA, even if your exposure to asbestos occurred decades ago, contact us today.
4. Filing the Claim
The VA gives several options for filing a disability claim, including:
- Online at va.gov
- By mailing documents to a VA claims center
- In person at a VA office
- With the help of a VA-accredited representative (such as a mesothelioma lawyer)
If filing through the mail or in person, you must also submit an “intent to file” form. Filing online does not require this additional document.
We can help make sure claims and accompanying evidence are filed correctly, allowing you to avoid unnecessary delays or problems that could prevent you from receiving disability compensation.
5. VA Review and Distribution of Benefits
Once your claim is filed, the VA will review the mesothelioma disability claim and decide whether or not to award benefits.
The time it takes to process a claim may vary according to the complexity of the disability(s) and type of claim. The VA must collect all necessary evidence, and you may be instructed to attend a medical exam, which can also add to the wait time.
Once you’re approved for VA disability benefits, you don’t have to do anything else.