VA Mesothelioma Benefits
Veterans who served in the military between the 1930s and the 1980s are at high risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. If you or a loved one is a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to benefits from the VA. An asbestos attorney from Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help determine if you qualify to file a mesothelioma VA claim and guide you through the process.
Asbestos is a naturally durable and heat-resistant mineral fiber. These properties made it a popular component in construction materials and other products throughout the 20th century. The military was no exception to the widespread use of asbestos. From shipbuilding materials in the Navy to plane insulation in the Air Force, all branches of the military used asbestos.
Although asbestos use in the military began to decline by the 1980s, millions of veterans had already been exposed, and many more military personnel continued to be exposed when working with older asbestos-containing structures, ships, and materials. Asbestos exposure is linked to a higher risk of several diseases, especially mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer. As a result, a disproportionate number of mesothelioma cases are from military veterans.
Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma are often eligible to receive disability compensation and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you suspect asbestos exposure in the military negatively impacted you or a loved one’s health, Bergman Oslund Udo Little is here to help. We’ve been representing mesothelioma victims throughout the Northwest since 1995, and we can help you navigate your mesothelioma VA claim from start to finish.
What VA Disability Benefits Are Available?
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, also known as the VA, offers several benefits for veterans actively suffering health complications due to asbestos exposure.
If you’re eligible for VA disability compensation, you will receive a monthly tax-free payment. The VA assigns a disability rating based on the severity of your condition in increments of 10 percent to each illness, injury, or disability you sustained due to military service. This rating is used to determine the amount of monthly compensation you will receive through the VA benefits program.
All veterans diagnosed with a service-connected disability are entitled to disability compensation. This includes veterans exposed to asbestos in the military who developed an asbestos-linked condition.
Examples of eligible asbestos-linked health conditions include mesothelioma, fibrosis, asbestosis, pleural effusions, pleural plaques, and cancers of the lung, larynx, and gastrointestinal tract. If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you do not need to definitively prove asbestos exposure to receive disability compensation. The VA only needs to believe it’s at least as likely as not that your military service caused your asbestos-related disease.
VA Health Care
Regardless of health status, most military veterans are eligible for basic health coverage through the VA. These benefits include preventative care services, inpatient hospital services, emergency care services, and more.
You must have served in the active military, naval, or air service and not have received a dishonorable discharge to qualify for VA health care benefits. If you enlisted in the military after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, you must have served 24 continuous months or the entire period you served in active duty. Some exceptions apply to this rule, such as a discharge for a disability caused or worsened by your service.
Certain factors may qualify you for enhanced eligibility status, which places you in a higher priority group and makes you more likely to receive health care benefits. For example, if you qualify for disability compensation payments for your service-connected asbestos-related illness, the VA will likely place you in a higher priority group.
The Veterans Pension program provides monthly benefits free of tax to wartime veterans who meet specific age, disability, and economic status requirements. These payments intend to help eligible veterans supplement their incomes.
The eligibility criteria for Veterans Pension benefits are extremely detailed, and not all veterans with asbestos-related illnesses qualify. You may only be eligible if:
You must also either be at least 65, have a permanent or total disability, reside in a nursing home, or receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Aid and Attendance
Some veterans with mesothelioma who qualify for VA Pension benefits also qualify for another monthly payment called Aid and Attendance benefits. To qualify for VA Aid and Attendance benefits, you must receive a VA Pension and have a significant disability that requires another person to help you perform daily activities, keeps you in bed for most of the day, or limits your eyesight.
Benefits Available to Family of Veterans
The VA doesn’t only offer benefits for veterans with mesothelioma. Certain family members of veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses may also qualify for VA benefits.
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Surviving spouses, children, and parents of veterans who died from service-related illnesses, including asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, are often entitled to VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC. DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit paid monthly.
The specific eligibility criteria and the amount of time the VA will pay this benefit will depend on your relationship to the deceased veteran. If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, you will likely receive more long-term benefits than a parent.
Health Care for Dependents
VA Health Care is usually reserved for veterans, but some non-veteran family members may qualify for these benefits.
The TRICARE program provides comprehensive health coverage to the spouses and children of veterans who have retired from active duty in the uniformed services. TRICARE also covers the surviving family members of veterans who previously received TRICARE coverage and have since passed away.
Family members who don’t qualify for TRICARE may instead be eligible for health insurance through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA. Those eligible include the spouses and children of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled by service-connected conditions, such as mesothelioma. Also eligible are the surviving spouses and children of veterans who died from such conditions.
Funeral and Burial Benefits
If your loved one died due to a service-related illness, including mesothelioma from asbestos exposure in the military, you’re likely entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses. This benefit can help to ease the financial burden of the death on your family.
The VA will pay up to $2,000 toward your loved one’s burial expenses, no matter where the burial occurs. The VA will also reimburse the cost of transporting the deceased if the burial occurs in a VA national cemetery. Additionally, you can request a free government headstone or grave marker in any cemetery worldwide.
The surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans may be eligible for monthly payments through the VA Survivors Pension. To qualify as a surviving spouse, you must not have remarried after the veteran’s death, and the veteran must have served during specific wartime periods without receiving a dishonorable discharge.
Additionally, your family’s income and net worth must meet limits set by Congress. The same basic requirements apply to children, but they must also meet specific age requirements.
VA Education Benefits
The VA offers compensation for educational expenses, including tuition and fee payments, money for books and supplies, and monthly housing allowances, to the spouses and children of veterans with significant service-connected disabilities.
If your spouse or parent is permanently and totally disabled or died as a result of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease stemming from military service, you likely qualify for VA education benefits.
How Do I Apply for These Benefits?
Each type of VA benefit has a different application process. You can usually apply by mail or in person. When you file a VA claim for a service-connected disability like mesothelioma, you will need to provide the following supporting evidence:
In some cases, you may also need to provide an exposure letter explaining the detailed circumstances of your asbestos exposure, the types of asbestos products to which you were exposed, and where you were stationed during your exposure. This evidence must demonstrate that at least 50 percent of your asbestos exposure happened during military service.
If you don’t have sufficient evidence, you may still have options. For example, the VA might require you to undergo a claim exam instead of independent medical verification. You could also strengthen your mesothelioma VA claim by gathering written statements from people who witnessed your asbestos exposure or its effects on your well-being, such as family members or other veterans you served with.
An asbestos lawyer in Washington can help you determine what types of evidence you’ll need for the best possible odds of approval.
What Other Compensation Am I Eligible For?
You may be eligible for other types of compensation in addition to benefits from the VA if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a veteran. When you turn to Bergman Oslund Udo Little with your mesothelioma case, we’ll explore every option available to you so you can seek maximum compensation for your losses.
You can’t sue the U.S. military for your asbestos exposure. However, you could potentially file a personal injury lawsuit against third-party asbestos companies, such as the manufacturers that supplied products containing asbestos to job sites in the military. These claims seek financial compensation for the damages and losses caused by the disease, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Many companies responsible for asbestos-related diseases have declared bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy courts ordered many of these companies to set up asbestos trust funds as a part of their reorganization. These trust funds provide compensation to victims of asbestos exposure, including veterans. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your mesothelioma-related losses by filing a claim with the specific trust fund that applies to your case.
How Long Does It Take To Receive My Compensation?
In many cases, receiving compensation through these alternative legal avenues takes only a few months. Mesothelioma claims often have short waiting times since asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. However, the exact time to receive your compensation will depend on various factors, such as the quality of evidence supporting your case and how many claims the trust fund is currently processing.
Our Veterans' Mesothelioma Lawyers Are Here To Help
Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that often leads to significant medical expenses, loss of income, and many other losses. You and your family have sacrificed so much for our nation and deserve compensation for your resulting illness. That’s where our asbestos lawyers in Oregon come in.
At Bergman Oslund Udo Little, we’re dedicated to supporting veterans and their loved ones with trusted legal representation. As the Pacific Northwest’s premier mesothelioma law firm, we have recovered millions of dollars for veterans with service-related mesothelioma diagnoses, including the following: