Unfortunately, nearly one in every three mesothelioma patients in the United States is a veteran of our Armed Forces. Because asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma to develop many years after the initial exposure to asbestos, many of these veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma after they have been discharged from the military.
While no amount of money can compensate a veteran and his or her family for the pain that goes alongside a mesothelioma diagnosis, the Department of Veterans Affairs has established several programs that can benefit mesothelioma-affected veterans and their families. Our team is committed to assisting veterans in accessing these compensation sources so they can receive the benefits which they are entitled to receive.
Mesothelioma and American Veterans
Asbestos was used very widely in a variety of products and materials during the 20th century because it is an inexpensive, durable, and fire-resistant material for insulation, building materials, and mechanical parts. Most commonly, asbestos exposure occurs in construction and manufacturing settings.
During the 20th century, asbestos was used by every branch of the United States Armed Forces, and there are veterans with mesothelioma who served in each branch. But most commonly, asbestos affects veterans who worked on Navy vessels, as it was used heavily as ship and submarine insulation on vessels of all sizes – frigates, battleships, submarines, cruisers, aircraft carriers, and smaller boats.
VA Benefits for Veterans
Every year, it is estimated that more than 1,000 American veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. In response, the federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs has established multiple programs to assist affected veterans and their families. While the qualifications and processes for accessing each of these programs varies, each program’s goal is to provide assistance to mesothelioma-affected veterans and their families – either through compensation or medical care.
Eligibility for VA Mesothelioma Benefits
Unfortunately, not all veterans are eligible to receive mesothelioma benefits from the VA. In general, you may have a claim for benefits if you meet the following requirements:
- A veteran who served on active duty or had active/inactive duty training in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, or in a qualifying Reserve or National Guard
- Received a mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diagnosis caused by exposure to asbestos
- Were exposed to asbestos during your military service and can link your service to a specific site of a known exposure
- Were honorably discharged from the Armed Forces
It may be difficult for veterans and their families to compile all of the requisite documentation for satisfying each of these requirements. Specifically, a veteran may have difficulty finding information about when and where asbestos exposures may have occurred – and in turn, documenting the exposure. An experienced team of mesothelioma attorneys can assist asbestos victims in determining whether they are eligible for benefits, and if eligible, a lawyer can also assist in collecting documentation and filing a claim.
Types of VA Mesothelioma Benefits and Programs
There are several different types of programs and benefits offered by the VA to assist affected veterans and their families. Each of these programs has different processes for applying for and obtaining benefits, and an attorney in our office can assist you with more detailed information.
VA Disability Compensation
VA disability compensation awards are direct cash payments that are made to veterans and their families by the VA. The payments are tax-free, and they are designed to assist veterans and families with medical expenses, lost wages, and any other costs incurred because of a disability stemming from military service.
As of 2023, veterans can receive $3,621.95 per month if single, and $3,823.89 if married, with larger amounts available for veterans who have dependent children or additional medical care needs that are not covered by the initial amount. VA disability compensation awards are the most commonly sought type of VA benefits for mesothelioma victims.
Aid and Attendance Benefits
Aid and Attendance benefits, sometimes referred to as “A&A” benefits, are designed to assist veterans who need the assistance of an in-home caregiver for day-to-day medical needs. These awards are granted to veterans to assist with the costs of in-home nursing care, either on a full time or part time basis.
VA Pension Claims
Like disability awards, VA pension awards are cash amounts paid directly to veterans and their families. However, pension awards are different from disability awards in that they are provided only to low-income veterans, and the amounts received vary based upon the veteran’s financial status and family situation. The income limits for VA pension awards are set by Congress, and in 2023, they are only available to low-income veterans with a net worth of less than $150,538.
Housebound benefits are additional funding amounts that are available to disabled veterans who are not able to leave their homes because of their disabilities. These benefits are designed to “stack” with VA disability benefits, and they are only available to eligible veterans who are already receiving VA disability benefits.
VA Health Care for Mesothelioma
Lastly, the VA also offers health care to veterans at low costs and no costs, including treatment for mesothelioma. With specific respect to mesothelioma, the VA runs mesothelioma clinics that provide highly-rated treatment and care to affected veterans. Accessing these programs is often a matter of researching what services are available to you.
Mesothelioma Benefits for Spouses and Families
In addition to providing benefits to veterans affected by mesothelioma, the VA also offers several programs and benefits that are designed to assist spouses and families of veterans. Most of these programs are available after an affected veteran has passed away from mesothelioma. They include:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is available to surviving family members of a veteran who passed away from mesothelioma
- Survivor’s pension benefits, available to surviving spouses and dependents of a veteran who received a VA pension award
- VA health care for family members
- Funeral and burial expense reimbursement for service-related mesothelioma deaths
An Attorney Can Assist You in Accessing VA Benefits
Oftentimes, veterans and their families do not access benefits to which they are legally entitled because the processes for applying and obtaining these benefits can be very complicated. Our team of attorneys and staff members are experienced in assisting mesothelioma-affected veterans, and we’re ready to help you and your family access VA benefits today.
Contact our office to set up a free consultation with a member of our team.