Asbestos was widely used in many industries by both the private and public sectors throughout much of the 20th Century for its resistance to heat and its ability to provide fireproofing. Until the mid-1970s, the U.S. armed forces were among the largest users of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials because of these particular properties. As a result, large numbers of the more than 20 million veterans were exposed to asbestos during their time in the military. Many of these veterans, including personnel who served recently in the Middle East, have either developed mesothelioma or are at risk of developing this rare and deadly form of cancer.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
Major Military Occupations Associated with Asbestos
Because mesothelioma is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos, the U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognize this disease as a service-related disability. Per the VA, personnel who worked in any of the following occupations may have been exposed to asbestos when they were on active duty:
- Carpentry and construction
- Demolition of old structures
- Insulation work
- Manufacturing and installation of cement sheet, flooring, pipe products, or roofing
- Servicing of friction products such as brake linings or clutch facings
- Shipyard work
The VA also acknowledges the possibility that veterans who served in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and adjoining countries, were exposed to asbestos. Many old structures in the region contain asbestos. Military personnel and civilian defense contractors on duty in this part of the world are constantly exposed to asbestos fibers when these buildings are damaged or demolished.
Filing a Claim
According to the VA, any veteran who was exposed to asbestos during his or her time in the armed forces and develops asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma is eligible for service-connected compensation benefits.
The VA has the following eligibility requirements for veterans in order to process asbestos related claims:
- Veterans must have been discharged under all conditions except dishonorable
- Veterans must have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the armed forces
- Veterans must have a disease or disability connected to the asbestos exposure that took place in military service
Evidence Requirements to File Service Related Asbestos Claims
The VA recognizes asbestosis, lung cancer, and malignant mesothelioma as diseases or disabilities connected to asbestos exposure if such exposure took place during a claimant’s term of active duty service. To ensure that the claims are processed properly and to prevent false claims from being filed, the VA has established the following evidence requirements:
Veterans filing an asbestos exposure claim must show that the exposure occurred when they were on active duty. They can describe their Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) or where they were stationed at the time.
Veterans are required to show proof that they have asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma, and that a causative link exists between these diseases or disabilities and asbestos exposure while they were in the armed forces. It is important to note that the VA will not process claims of asbestos exposure per se; veterans must file claims based on the asbestos-related disease or disability.
As part of the claims process, the VA will routinely ask veterans to undergo a medical exam and seek a physician’s determination if the disability or disease is connected to asbestos exposure which took place while the claimants were in the military.
Four Quick Facts About VA Disability Compensation Claims
As with most service-related bureaucracies, the Department of Veterans Affairs is surrounded by a web of myths and misconceptions about what it does and how its compensation programs work. Many people, even those who have been in the military, often don’t file disability claims because they think they are not qualified to do so. This section consists of four quick facts that will dispel some of these myths and misconceptions.
Former members of the military do not need to have seen combat or served during wartime to be considered veterans. A company clerk who was in the Army after the 1983 invasion of Grenada and left the service before Operation Just Cause in 1989 is as much a veteran as a Marine who saw action in those two operations.
Veterans can file for VA compensation under any type of discharge from military service except Dishonorable Discharge. Contrary to a common misconception, Veterans separated from the armed forces under all other discharge conditions, including Bad Conduct Discharge and Other-than-Honorable Discharge, are still eligible for VA benefits and compensation.
The VA will not force veterans who file any medical disability claim to see a VA physician. Though veterans who obtain a VA Disability Rating are eligible for VA Health Care, enrollment is not compulsory. Veterans enrolled in other insurance programs with their own physicians can keep them and are not forced to switch to VA Health Care or VA-approved doctors.
Survivors of veterans who died from mesothelioma or any asbestos-related condition but did not file a claim with the VA are just as eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) as survivors of veterans that filed for disability compensation. The DIC vetting process is slower in such cases and survivors must persuade VA case evaluators that the veteran’s asbestos exposure took place during his or her time in the military.
VA Compensation for Service-Related Mesothelioma
The VA compensation guidelines are based on disability ratings which are determined by how seriously disabled a veteran is. These ratings are explained as a percentage scale, starting with 0 (minimal disability) to 100 (full disability. Compensation amounts vary depending on the disability ratings, which are measured in increments of 10 percentage points. For example, a married veteran with a spouse and one child and a 100% disability rating is currently entitled to receive $3,088 per month. Most cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, have a VA disability rating of 100%.
Per VA and government regulations, VA disability compensation is tax-free. Veterans are eligible for compensation if the disability or disease is conclusively shown to be connected to their time in the military.
Legal Help for Veterans
If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area.