Wartime veterans filing for a VA Pension do not need to be able to link their mesothelioma directly back to their time in service. Veterans with mesothelioma who don’t meet any of the other eligibility criteria can establish eligibility by submitting medical documentation to the VA proving that they have mesothelioma, which is considered permanently disabling.
Mesothelioma VA Pension Claim Overview
Wartime veterans that develop mesothelioma might be eligible for a VA Pension if they meet certain criteria. To be eligible to file for VA Pension, a veteran must meet one of the following requirements:
- Be older than 65
- Permanently disabled
- Receiving nursing care in a nursing home
- Receiving supplemental social security income
- Receiving social security disability income
Veterans with mesothelioma are considered to be permanently disabled for the purpose of the Pension eligibility criteria. However, the mesothelioma does not have to be caused by the veteran’s military service. VA Pension is a means-tested benefits, therefore veterans must also have a family annual “countable” income below a particular amount set by Congress.
That countable income limit is $12,868 without a spouse or child and $16,851 with one dependent as of 2014. However, if the veteran is housebound, or in need of the regular Aid & Attendance of another person to perform basic daily tasks, the income limits are much higher. In addition, veterans must have at least 90 days of active duty service with one or more of those days falling during a wartime period.
VA Pension Amounts
In order to calculate your VA Pension, you must first determine your family’s countable income. Your countable income can include disability, earnings, retirement payments, and interest payments. Income from all family members is included in this number. If they exceed a certain amount, your out of pocket medical expenses may be subtracted from your income to reduce your countable income.
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—which in 2014 was $16,851 for an individual with one dependent. A veteran with a dependent who made $12,851 would then be awarded a VA Pension of $4,000 for that year. The pension would be paid in monthly installments.
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.
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 in order to be eligible:
- The aid of another person is required for the veteran to perform daily functions such as eating, dressing, and bathing. The aid is necessary on an everyday basis.
- The veteran is bedridden
- The veteran is confined to a nursing home because of a physical incapacity
- The veteran’s eyesight has been limited to just 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes
Veterans that are confined to their homes due to a permanent disability are eligible for housebound benefits. Housebound benefits are paid as financial compensation in addition to VA Pension or VA Disability Compensation.
Filing a Pension Claim With the VA
Veterans filing a claim for VA Pension benefits can file in several different ways after meeting the eligibility requirements. Here are the four 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 they will award financial compensation.