Veterans with mesothelioma can file for disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The disability benefit starts at $3,106.04 per month. It is higher for married veterans and/or veterans in need of a caregiver.
Filing a Mesothelioma Disability Claim
The VA considers mesothelioma a disability worthy of financial compensation, but the VA requires more criteria than just being a veteran with mesothelioma. The first step of filing any disability claim with the VA is making sure you meet the criteria.
To be eligible for VA disability benefits:
- You served in the U.S Armed Forces, either active or reserve, and you were not dishonorably discharged.
- A physician must provide medical evidence of mesothelioma diagnosis.
- Your exposure to asbestos must have occurred while you were serving in the military.
Veterans approved for mesothelioma are almost always awarded a 100% disability rating. This equates to at least $3,106.04 per month. The amount is higher for veterans with dependents and those in need of assistance from a caregiver.
The medical component to the eligibility process involves examination from a physician. This usually requires you to submit a pathology report from a biopsy that definitively diagnoses you with mesothelioma.
There are times when a doctor may conclude that a veteran has mesothelioma but does not feel a biopsy is justified.
In these cases, other medical evidence may be sufficient to get approved. Examples include the results of a cytology report (fluid biopsy), CAT scan, MRI, or PET scan.
It is usually best to get a doctor to write the VA a letter on the veteran’s behalf. The letter should explain why there is enough evidence to make a biopsy unnecessary.
You must also be able to establish a link between your mesothelioma and your time in service.
Because asbestos use was widespread in the military until the late-1970s, military records can generally establish a link. You must also convince the VA that you did not have more exposure to asbestos in your jobs before and after your military service.
You must write a detailed asbestos exposure summary to accompany your claim. In your summary, you must provide the VA with details about your military exposures. You must also include information about the kind of work you did before and after the military.
Veterans who prove that at least 50% of their asbestos exposure occurred in the military will be approved.
If you are eligible to file a mesothelioma disability claim with the VA, you can do so in 3 ways:
- Online through the eBenefits program
- In-person at your VA Regional Office
- With a VA-accredited representative who can work directly with you and assist you in preparing your claim and submitting it to the VA