Wartime veterans filing for VA Pension are not required to link their mesothelioma directly to their time in service. Veterans with mesothelioma can establish eligibility by submitting medical documentation to the VA. Mesothelioma is considered permanently disabling, and, therefore, benefits may be due.
VA Pension for Mesothelioma Veterans
Wartime veterans that develop mesothelioma might be eligible for a VA Pension if they meet certain criteria. VA Pension benefits are tax-free monthly payments made to low-income wartime veterans. The benefit aims to help veterans and their families manage financial challenges by offering supplemental income.
Pension benefits are needs-based and are divided into two categories:
- Veterans Pension
- Survivors Pension
Qualifying for VA Pension
To be eligible to file for VA Pension, a veteran must meet specific requirements.
To qualify, the veteran must:
- Be older than 65
- Be permanently disabled
- Be receiving nursing care in a nursing home
- Be receiving supplemental social security income
- Be receiving social security disability income
Veterans with mesothelioma are considered to be permanently disabled for the purpose of the pension eligibility criteria. However, the veteran’s mesothelioma does not have to be caused by military service.
VA Pension is a means-tested benefit. Therefore, it is only offered to veterans when their income is considered to be low enough to need financial assistance. The allowable income amounts are set by Congress.
Congress has determined that your yearly income must be less than $13,536 without a spouse or child and $17,724 with one dependent as of 2019. However, if the veteran is housebound or needs a caretaker to help with daily tasks, the income limits are much higher.
Veterans must have at least 90 days of active duty service with one or more of those days falling during a wartime period.
Under current law, wartime periods are recognized as:
- Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
- World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
VA Pension Amounts
To calculate your VA Pension, you must first determine your family’s countable income. Countable income can include disability, earnings, retirement payments, and interest payments. Income from all family members must be included in this number.
Your out-of-pocket medical expenses may be subtracted from your income to reduce your countable income if they are greater than a certain amount. Once you have determined your countable income, you can calculate an estimate of your VA Pension.
Your pension will be the difference between your countable income and the number set by Congress. In 2019, this number was $17,724 for an individual with one dependent. A veteran with one dependent who made $12,000 would then be awarded a VA Pension of $5,724 for that year. The pension would be paid in monthly installments.
How to File a VA Pension Claim
Veterans filing a claim for VA Pension benefits can file in several different ways after meeting the eligibility requirements.
There are 4 ways that veterans can file a claim:
- Online through the eBenefits program
- Through an accredited representative
- In person at a VA Regional Office
- Via traditional mail
Veterans filing online have up to a year to finish their application and upload military and medical records.
When applying through the VA or with an accredited representative, the VA will seek out military service and medical history records to determine whether the veteran will receive financial compensation.
VA Benefits Related to Pension
Veterans who are eligible for the VA Pension may also be eligible for additional financial compensation based on their medical needs. Veterans may be eligible for additional funds if they require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound and receiving skilled nursing care.
The Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits are not separate from the VA Pension, and veterans applying for Aid & Attendance or Housebound benefits must meet the other eligibility criteria for VA Pension.
To apply for Aid & Attendance or Housebound benefits, you may write to the Pension Management Center in your state or visit a regional benefit office.
To apply, you should have copies of relevant documents and evidence (especially a doctor’s report) to provide evidence of your physical or mental condition that causes impairment. This may confirm the need for Aid & Attendance or Housebound levels of care.
You will need to show how well you get around, where you go, and what you are able to do on a typical day. You must also be able to provide evidence of why you are confined to your home.
Aid & Attendance
Aid & Attendance (sometimes just shortened to A&A) is financial compensation that can be added to VA Pension or VA Disability if a veteran meets certain conditions.
A veteran must meet at least one of the following conditions to be eligible for Aid & Attendance:
- The aid of another person is required for the veteran to perform daily functions such as eating, dressing, and bathing
- The veteran is bedridden
- The veteran is confined to a nursing home because of physical incapacity
- The veteran’s eyesight has been limited to 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes
Veterans that are confined to their homes due to permanent disability are eligible for housebound benefits. Housebound benefits are paid as financial compensation in addition to regular VA Pension or VA Disability Compensation.
If you are confined to your home, you will need to have an examination for housebound status. Your doctor will need to fill out a form to declare you medically housebound. You will also need to provide details about your daily life, such as what you do during the day and how you get the things you need.
This information helps show what kind of disability you have and how it affects your ability to do certain things on your own.
The Survivors Pension Benefit is also called Death Pension. It is payable to spouses of deceased veterans who are not remarried and/or to unmarried children of the veteran. Survivors Pension is based on yearly family income and must be lower than the level established by Congress.
To qualify for Survivors Pension, the deceased veteran must have met these service requirements:
- If the veteran served on or before September 7, 1980, he or she must have had 90 days of active duty with at least one day falling in a wartime period as defined by the VA.
- If the veteran served after September 7, 1980, he or she must have served at least two years or the entire period of active duty as it was ordered. At least one of these days must have been during a wartime period as defined by the VA.
- The veteran must have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.
As long as a spouse is unmarried and meets the Pension criteria, he or she may receive Survivors Pension. However, a child of a deceased veteran can only receive Survivors Pension under specific criteria.
At least one of the following must be true:
- Veteran’s child is under 18
- Veteran’s child is under 23 and attending a VA-approved school or university
- Veteran’s child is permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability that occurred before age 18
File Your Pension Claim
When applying through the VA or with an accredited representative, the VA will seek out military service and medical history records to determine whether they will award financial compensation. If mistakes in applying are made, pension claims can be delayed.
VA-accredited claims agents can help you understand what benefits you may be eligible for. Once you know what you may be entitled to as a survivor of a wartime veteran, VA-accredited claims agents can help you apply for your benefits.
They can also help you:
- Understand what documents you need to gather
- Help you gather necessary documents
- File claims for you
- Help arrange transportation to medical appointments
VA-accredited claims agents must pass an exam, be screened through a background check, and take continuing education courses to ensure they are up-to-date on current information. Because of this training, you may wish to work with an agent rather than trying to apply for benefits on your own.
Our claims agents can help you file for VA benefits, including a pension claim, today.