Benefits to veterans with an asbestos disease
Available above and beyond any compensation obtained from a mesothelioma lawsuit are tax-free cash benefits to veterans with an asbestos disease.
These benefits are paid by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Included in the list of asbestos diseases for which the VA pays benefits are mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, and asbestosis.
The amount of money available from benefits to veterans with an asbestos disease is paid monthly. The sums range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Veterans may be eligible for asbestos-disease benefits if they:
- Served in any branch of the U.S. armed forces
- Received an honorable discharge (and nothing less) at the end of their service
- Have an existing disability caused or made worse by military service
- Received a medical diagnosis confirming military service as the cause of disability
Disability compensation is a benefit to veterans with an asbestos disease
U.S. military veterans may apply to receive a monthly check to compensate them for disability resulting from exposure to asbestos that occurred during their service in the armed forces.
The surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents of veterans who died of an asbestos disease may also be eligible to receive compensation through the Disability Compensation (DC) program.
DC payments are entirely tax-free.
How much a veteran receives is determined in part by a grading system which assigns a score to the disability at issue. The higher the score, the more money the veteran is deemed eligible to receive. The lowest qualifying score is 10. The highest possible score is 100.
A veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma is considered by the VA to be totally disabled. Accordingly, that veteran’s disability compensation score is automatically 100.
A veteran diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer will likewise receive an automatic score of 100 and for the same reason—the VA considers it a totally disabling condition.
However, a veteran diagnosed with asbestosis or other asbestos-related disease will not automatically receive a score of 100. The VA does not consider asbestosis and other lesser asbestos-related illnesses totally disabling, unless there is convincing proof to the contrary. The actual score a veteran afflicted with asbestosis receives will be somewhere between 10 and 100, based on the results of a medical evaluation.
A veteran who receives a DC score of 100 can expect a monthly check from the VA in the amount of at least $3,100. For a veteran with a score of just 10, the disability compensation monthly payment will be $142.
Other benefits to veterans with an asbestos disease
An important additional benefit available to asbestos disease-suffering veterans is actually intended to aid their survivors. It is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Survivors here are defined as spouses, children, and dependent parents.
This benefit is paid each month and the money is tax-free.
The basic payment to a surviving spouse of a veteran who died of mesothelioma is just over $1,300. Extra cash is added for each dependent child.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is one more benefit potentially available to provide compensation to veterans with an asbestos disease.
Those who may be eligible to receive SMC payments are veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses, and financially dependent parents.
To qualify for SMC, asbestos-exposed veterans must show they are enduring some type of serious hardship caused by the disease. For example, one who has been rendered unemployable by mesothelioma would be a good candidate for SMC because the inability to work for a paycheck is generally viewed as a serious hardship.
SMC payments usually start at $3,800 but can go up to $5,000 or more. The actual amount veterans receive depends on how many dependents they have and on the nature of the hardship.
Burial costs reimbursement is potentially available as yet another benefit for veterans with asbestos disease.
This benefit is paid one-time only, but it too is tax-free.
The amount paid is $2,000.
This sum is paid only upon proof that, after the veteran died of mesothelioma or one of the other asbestos diseases, out-of-pocket money was spent for his or her internment.
How to get asbestos disease benefits for veterans
The process for obtaining the veterans benefits discussed above begins with the filing of a claim using the correct VA forms.
However, the VA recommends that prior to initiating a claim, the following documentation be gathered:
- Records detailing the military service duties of the veteran who will be named in the benefits application
- Copy of Form DD 214 showing the veteran was honorably discharged
- Medical records (or a release granting the VA access to such records) demonstrating that the veteran suffered a disabling illness linked to military service
- Written statement from an examining physician that the disabling illness was caused by the veteran’s exposure to asbestos in the course of serving (or prior to serving, if the asbestos exposure during service worsened the condition)
- Marriage certificate (if wed and the veteran seeks benefits for the spouse)
The application for benefits to veterans with an asbestos disease is contained on VA Form 21-526.
The application can be filled out and submitted online. Use this link to get started.
Applicants can also request that a VA representative fill out the application on their behalf over the phone by dialing (877) 222-8387 any weekday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time.
As well, applicants can obtain help completing the paperwork by going to their nearest VA medical center or clinic.
One other option for submitting completed applications is the U.S. postal service. Paperwork can be mailed to the VA’s Health Eligibility Center located at 2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30329.
The VA usually makes a decision to approve or deny requests for benefits about a week after receiving the filing.
Vets seeking asbestos-disease benefits can also file mesothelioma lawsuits
It is permissible for an asbestos-injured veteran who pursues and obtains asbestos-disease benefits from the VA to also seek and receive compensation from a private-sector corporation via litigation.
The VA makes no payment adjustments to benefits if, after the veteran begins receiving them, that individual then later begins receiving compensation from a successful mesothelioma lawsuit or asbestos trust payout.
In a similar vein, the VA does not take mesothelioma lawsuit compensation into consideration when deciding whether to grant benefits or how much to pay each month.
Therefore, it would seem prudent for veterans with an asbestos disease to apply for VA benefits and at the same time file a mesothelioma lawsuit
A lawyer or law firm with extensive experience litigating mesothelioma lawsuits will likely also have the ability help a veteran successfully navigate the VA benefits application system and process.
To talk to a lawyer or law firm skilled at helping veterans with an asbestos disease obtain VA benefits, click here.
About the author…
Gregory Sandifer graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and received his law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California.