Asbestos was widely used in the military in the 1930s through the 1970s because of its durable, fire-resistant properties. Military veterans, therefore, are particularly vulnerable to the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Almost one-third of all mesothelioma diagnoses involve military veterans. Both veterans who served during this time and those who served afterward are at risk for asbestos diseases because of the retention of asbestos in equipment and vehicles.
Veteran Help and Resources for Mesothelioma and Asbestos Cancer
Veterans and Asbestos Exposure
Veterans and Mesothelioma Compensation
Veterans Administration (VA) Healthcare and Treatment Options
Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits for a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Navy Veterans and Mesothelioma
Navy Mesothelioma Lawsuit & Claim Options
Navy Mesothelioma Settlements
Veterans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease have the option of seeking treatment or benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some medical centers in the United States with mesothelioma specialists are affiliated with the VA, making it easier for veterans to seek treatment through their military coverage. For instance, VA medical centers in the following locations offer mesothelioma treatment programs:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Miami, FL
- Decatur, GA
- West Roxbury, MA
- Albany, NY
- Houston, TX
In addition to treatment opportunities, the VA offers some tax-free benefits to veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their military service and subsequently developed mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases. Veterans themselves can receive Disability Compensation upon diagnoses. If a veteran dies from asbestos-related illness, his or her family members can also receive compensation through the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation process.
To be eligible for monetary benefits, veterans or their families must be able to show the following:
- Proof of discharge in any way except dishonorable;
- Proof of exposure to asbestos during the time of service (service records showing date and location of service); and
- Proof of medical diagnoses of an illness related to asbestos exposure (medical records from a physician).
Upon receipt of a claim submission, the VA will review the documentation and make a decision about eligibility for benefits along with the amount of money a veteran is eligible to receive. The process does take some time — typically six to eight months. If an application is denied, the veteran or his or her family has the right to appeal that decision.
It is essential to understand that even if a veteran did not serve during the time when asbestos was still being placed in military buildings, vehicles, and equipment, he or she could still develop mesothelioma. Throughout the process of mitigating asbestos use, military members were still exposed to the fibers. And some overseas builders still use asbestos products.
Further, while some people believe they must have developed symptoms of mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease while they were still in the military, this is not true. Symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses can take many years to develop, sometimes as long as 50 years from exposure. For this reason, the majority of VA benefits claimants will have been discharged long before they notice symptoms.
Veterans who worked in the Navy and Coast Guard are at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Asbestos products were widely used on ships from 1930 to 1970, with the most common uses being insulation, engine room materials, and boiler room materials. The closed-in spaces inside ships and limited ventilation made it more likely that Navy and Coast Guard members would inhale or ingest dangerous levels of asbestos fibers anytime the material was disturbed. Veterans who worked below deck, in submarines, and in shipyards were most at risk of high asbestos exposure.
Some of the most dangerous jobs in these two military branches in terms of asbestos exposure were:
- Machinery and ship repairmen
- Boiler room workers
Those repairing ships or building ships would frequently chip and grind away at asbestos materials, releasing large amounts of fibers into the air. These workers usually did not have protective gear, which means they were highly susceptible to breathing in or swallowing the dangerous fibers.
Members of all branches of the military were and are at risk for developing mesothelioma or asbestos-related illnesses because of their exposure levels. Asbestos seemed to be the ideal material for many military uses. In the Army, service members encountered asbestos by way of:
- Housing and barracks
- Mess halls or dining/kitchen facilities
- Ammunition storage facilities
- Vehicles and equipment
- Training facilities
Asbestos was particularly prevalent in caulking and flooring, cement foundations, building and pipe insulation, vehicle insulation, equipment gaskets, and brake lines inside of vehicles. Army workers who repaired equipment and vehicles were at a higher risk through directly encountering and disturbing asbestos fibers.
In addition to the above, Air Force members regularly encountered asbestos in their planes. Aircraft brakes, insulation, heating mechanisms, wiring, and valves commonly contained asbestos materials that could become disturbed with every use. As with the other branches of the military, mechanics, and workers who performed repairs or helped to build aircraft were at a higher risk of encountering dangerous levels of asbestos fibers.
Asbestos materials were used in the following on Air Force bases:
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Vinyl flooring
- Pipe insulation
Airforce occupations at high risk of asbestos exposure included:
- Aircraft and vehicle mechanics
- Air Force firefighters
- Aircraft electricians
- Boiler workers
Marine veterans were at unique risk of asbestos exposure because of their overlap in a lot of areas with the Navy and the Air Force. They were exposed to asbestos in the same situations as Army service members but were also frequently aboard military ships and military aircraft.
Because of the specialized training they received in the military, numerous veterans sought jobs very similar to the positions they held during their service. These veterans maintained high exposure risks by participating in the same fields and encountering the same hazardous materials.
In addition to their own exposure, veterans also exposed their family members to asbestos when they came home from work with fibers in their hair and on their clothing. Second-hand exposure can result in the development of mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease.
Asbestos, Mesothelioma and Military Veterans – Answers to Common Questions
- I’m a veteran and have a disease caused by asbestos, do I have to sue the Military to get financial assistance?
- Why do veterans make up the largest percentage of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma?
- If I file a claim with the veteran’s administration for mesothelioma, will I have to go to a VA hospital for treatment? What if there are no VA hospitals in my area?
- I have mesothelioma but did not serve in the four major branches of the military, can I still file a claim with the VA?
- What is aid and attendance?
- What is housebound?
- What if I did not serve during war time but have asbestos lung cancer?
- I have asbestosis and not mesothelioma, does this make a difference in the amount of compensation I can receive from the VA?
- If a veteran is diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos illness, how are they able to get compensation?
- Is there a time limit to filing a claim with the Veterans Administration regarding compensation for an asbestos related illness?
- Is there a difference in compensation based on my location or branch of the military for asbestos exposure?
- I was in the military for several years and diagnosed with mesothelioma but was dishonorably discharged, what are my options?
- I was a private military contractor, and now have mesothelioma, what are my options?
- I served in the military and was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, could this have been caused by exposure to asbestos?
- During my military service I do not remember any place I exposed to asbestos, but I now have mesothelioma, can I still be compensated?
- Does it cost any money to file claims with the VA or file a lawsuit with a Military subcontractor?
- I’m a military veteran with mesothelioma, why is it advisable to hire a lawyer?
- Does it cost any money to have a lawyer help me recover compensation?
- Do I need a lawyer to submit a claim with the VA?
- Why are Navy Veterans at a higher risk for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma?
- For veterans that served in the military, is there a difference between other asbestos lung cancers and mesothelioma?
- Can a veteran file a mesothelioma lawsuit as opposed to filing a claim with an asbestos trust?
- How do veterans get compensated for an asbestos related illness from the veterans administration?
- Can family members of a deceased veteran with mesothelioma file a claim with the VA or file a lawsuit?
- Which surviving family members of a veteran can file a claim for benefits or file a lawsuit for wrongful death?
- Are there time limits, on when a family member can file a claim on behalf of a deceased veteran?
- What are the eligibility requirements for a veteran filing claims with the VA, lawsuits against subcontractors, or asbestos trusts?
- If a veteran is awarded compensation from one source such as the VA, does that preclude or lessen the award from another source like an asbestos trust?
- If a military veteran or navy veteran dies from asbestos related lung cancer is it considered a wrongful death?
- What is the process to file an asbestos claim with the Veterans Administration?
- Is filing a claim with the VA for compensation for asbestos related disease considered a disability claim?
- What if I already have a disability claim with the VA and since have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, will there be additional benefits?
- What are the differences between Veteran Service Organization (VSO) and a VA Accredited Claims Agent?
- As a Veteran, how long does it take to receive money from an asbestos claim?
- Do I have to File a Claim or Lawsuit Against My Former Commanding Officer?
- Having Mesothelioma has been stressful, how much involvement is there in recovering compensation from the VA or filing a Lawsuit?
- What is the largest amount that can be awarded to me from the Veterans Administration?
- How common is mesothelioma in Navy Veterans?
- I’m a family member of a US Veteran that worked with asbestos, should I be worried that other family members may have second hand exposure?
- I’m a US veteran, and have been divorced, will this impact the compensation received from the VA?
- What is Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for Military Veterans?
- How is Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) used for surviving family members of US Veterans with asbestos diseases?
- I’m currently facing many heath issues; will I have to go to court if a lawsuit is filed against military manufacturers and suppliers?
- Does the Veterans Administration have any new treatment programs or clinical trials specifically for those diagnosed with an asbestos related illness such as mesothelioma?
- If a clinical trial is available at a hospital that is not associated with the VA network, can I still attend? How much do clinical trials cost?
- I was in the Airforce, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
- I was in the Army, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
- I was in the Navy, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
- I was in the Marines, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
I’m a veteran and have a disease caused by asbestos, do I have to sue the Military to get financial assistance?
No. The Veterans Administration recognizes that asbestos was widely used in the military. Benefits are available to veterans who can establish that their asbestos-related health condition was due to exposure during their military service. You can file a veteran disability claim to pursue compensation to which you may be entitled.
You may also be able to pursue a claim against a military contractor that was responsible for manufacturing the asbestos that harmed you. If you receive an award from a third party, this does not affect your eligibility for VA disability compensation.
If you worked in a profession after your military service that led to your mesothelioma or other asbestos-related health condition, you can look into pursuing a claim against your former employer or a workers’ compensation claim.
Why do veterans make up the largest percentage of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma?
Veterans make up about one-third of mesothelioma cases. Every branch of the military used asbestos until at least the 1970s. However, it is still legal for asbestos to be present to a certain extent in some products. Many military servicemembers are exposed to asbestos during their service. Asbestos is found in materials like paints, tiles and insulation. It is found in construction areas. Many veterans were exposed to asbestos when completing jobs related to constructing ships, aircraft and buildings. It is also present in mining and milling.
The VA alerts servicemembers that they may have been exposed to asbestos if they completed insulation work, shipyard work, demolition of old buildings, manufacturing and installing certain construction materials or carpentry. Additionally, servicemembers who served in Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries may have been exposed to asbestos when older buildings were damaged and the airborne fibers of asbestos were released into the environment.
If I file a claim with the veteran’s administration for mesothelioma, will I have to go to a VA hospital for treatment? What if there are no VA hospitals in my area?
You do not have to go to a VA hospital for treatment if you file a claim with the Veteran’s Administration. Veterans who are approved for VA disability compensation are eligible for free health care at VA hospitals and clinics. However, they are not required to use this eligibility. If they prefer to see their own healthcare provider, they can continue to do so without having to worry about becoming ineligible for VA benefits.
Additionally, veterans can ask their treating physician from the VA Healthcare System for a referral to see a mesothelioma specialist. The VA healthcare System has a partnership with two mesothelioma specialists in Los Angeles and Boston to which patients may be referred. The VA may even pay travel expenses to see one of these specialists.
I have mesothelioma but did not serve in the four major branches of the military, can I still file a claim with the VA?
Veterans of the army, navy, air force and marines file the majority of disability claims with the VA. However, other people may be eligible for benefits. Members of the Coast Guard may be exposed to asbestos when building vessels. Some sleeping quarters may have exposed members of the Coast Guard to asbestos. Members of the National Guard and Reservists may also make a claim with the VA for service-related injuries and illnesses.
Surviving spouses and children of a servicemember who developed an asbestos-related condition during military service may also be able to file a claim for compensation.
Private contractors who worked for the military can make a claim under the Defense Base Act, which serves as an extension of the federal workers’ compensation system.
What is aid and attendance?
Aid and Attendance is a benefit made available through Veterans Affairs. It provides financial assistance to pay for in-home care, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Veterans, spouses of veterans and surviving spouses may be eligible for this benefit. This benefit is not based on sustaining a disability during military service. Therefore, a person who has an asbestos-related condition that was not connected to their service may still be able to receive this financial help that provides for health assistance. To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a veteran must be 65 years old or older or be permanently disabled if younger than 65. He or she must also meet service requirements and income and asset limitations.
What is housebound?
Housebound is an amount that is paid in addition to a veteran’s monthly disability payment when a claimant is substantially confined to his or her home due to a permanent disability. To qualify for this increased monthly pension amount, you must have a 100-percent single disabling condition and be permanently confined to your home or have a 100-percent single disabling condition and another disability or disabilities evaluated at 60-percent or higher disabling. When applying for VA benefits, be sure that you discuss all possible benefits to which you may be entitled with your VA disability lawyer.
What if I did not serve during war time but have asbestos lung cancer?
Even if you were not serving during war or were not involved in combat, you may still be eligible to receive VA disability if you can establish that you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military. You may be able to show this by describing your military occupation specialty, the location where you were stationed or your job duties. The VA also recognizes that certain occupations and job duties involve a higher risk of asbestos exposure. You will have to provide evidence that you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related medical condition. You may have to undergo a VA medical examination so that a doctor can determine if there is a relationship between your illness and asbestos exposure that occurred during your military service.
I have asbestosis and not mesothelioma, does this make a difference in the amount of compensation I can receive from the VA?
The VA recognizes mesothelioma as a service-connected disability when the majority of asbestos exposure occurred during military service. It also recognizes other asbestos-related medical conditions, including asbestosis. However, asbestosis and other medical conditions may be caused by other factors, such as hereditary factors, exposure to other non-military service related substances or smoking. It may be more difficult to establish asbestosis was due to asbestos exposure than to show mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure. However, you can present medical documentation that convinces the VA of your eligibility.
The amount of compensation may also be different for these two medical conditions commonly linked to asbestos exposure. The VA determines the amount of disability compensation you are entitled to based on the disability rating it assigns you in 10-percent increments. You may have a different rating for asbestosis than for mesothelioma.
If a veteran is diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos illness, how are they able to get compensation?
A veteran may qualify for disability compensation if he or she can substantiate a claim. He or she will have to apply for disability compensation with the VA and present evidence that he or she was exposed to asbestos during military service and that he or she has developed a condition related to this exposure. This requires providing medical documentation of a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness. The VA can look at exposure to asbestos that occurred before and after military service to determine if it was likely that the condition primarily stemmed from exposure during military service.
A veteran may also choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer. Some manufacturers already have trust funds set up to provide compensation to mesothelioma victims who meet certain eligibility requirements.
Is there a time limit to filing a claim with the Veterans Administration regarding compensation for an asbestos related illness?
There is no time limit for applying for VA disability compensation. However, it is usually in your best interest to apply for benefits as soon as possible after you receive a diagnosis for a service-related disability like mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness. It may take the VA months or years to award you benefits. If you are awarded benefits, you will receive backpay for benefits for the time between the date of your initial application and the date of the award. There is a deadline for filing an appeal if you are not awarded benefits after applying for them.
Is there a difference in compensation based on my location or branch of the military for asbestos exposure?
VA disability compensation is the same for each branch of the military and is not based on a claimant’s location. However, the branch of the military may have had an impact on how much asbestos a person was exposed to during their military service. For example, it is much more common for members of the Navy to be exposed to asbestos than members of other branches. This is likely because many ships contained construction materials that include asbestos in them. Servicemembers responsible for building ships and other vessels may have been exposed to asbestos at increased rates. Additionally, you may have been at an increased risk of exposure if you were deployed in certain areas, such as Iraq or Afghanistan where you may have breathed in asbestos particles. The rate of exposure may affect your disability rating.
I was in the military for several years and diagnosed with mesothelioma but was dishonorably discharged, what are my options?
VA benefits are not available to individuals who were dishonorably discharged. They are available to veterans who received a general discharge or a discharge under honorable conditions. Military veterans can try to adjust their status so that it is not considered a dishonorable discharge can apply for a discharge upgrade through a Discharge Review Board. If your discharge is upgraded, you may then become eligible for disability benefits.
You may also have legal grounds to seek compensation from different avenues. For example, you may be able to pursue a defective product claim against the manufacturer that produced the asbestos product. You may be qualified for disability benefits through a private disability insurance policy or through Social Security Disability. Talk to an experienced lawyer to learn about your options.
I was a private military contractor, and now have mesothelioma, what are my options?
Private contractors who worked for the military can make a claim under the Defense Base Act, which serves as an extension of the federal workers’ compensation system. You may be able to file a claim for compensation under this program. Additionally, you may have a product liability claim against the asbestos manufacturer. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer that produced products with dangerous asbestos. There are also some manufacturers who have established victim trust funds to provide compensation to individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria. Talk to an experienced lawyer to learn more about your options.
I served in the military and was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, could this have been caused by exposure to asbestos?
Yes. Asbestos exposure has been linked to lung cancer. Dangerous asbestos particles can be inhaled or ingested, which can affect the lung tract. However, the VA may not immediately accept that your lung cancer is a service-based illness because it can be caused by other factors, such as smoking or hereditary or environmental factors. An experienced lawyer can help you gather medical records to show the connection between your military service and your lung cancer. We can also explore your military record to narrow down on when you may have been exposed to asbestos, based on the branch you served in, your occupation and the area where you were working. We can present this information as part of your VA claim.
During my military service I do not remember any place I exposed to asbestos, but I now have mesothelioma, can I still be compensated?
Yes, you may still be compensated. You are not expected to know the exact point in which you might have been exposed to asbestos. The military recognizes certain jobs and duties that placed servicemembers at an increased risk of being exposed to asbestos. Asbestos was and still continues to be part of many different products, including construction materials, parts in vehicles and parts in ships. Additionally, many countries do not regulate the use of asbestos, so if you were stationed in another country or you were around a demolition site, you could have breathed in asbestos fibers and developed mesothelioma for this reason. An experienced lawyer can help you with your claim and with gathering medical records that connect your mesothelioma to your military service.
Does it cost any money to file claims with the VA or file a lawsuit with a Military subcontractor?
It does not cost money to file your initial application for VA benefits. However, you might have to pay fees for special expenses, such as for copies of your medical records. Filing a lawsuit against a military subcontractor does cost money, including a filing fee, discovery fees and possible expenses related to hiring an expert witness. However, this is considered a personal injury case. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you are not charged fees upfront and you do not pay any legal fees unless you recover compensation through a settlement or verdict. This allows you to pursue your claim without worrying about being able to afford the costs of litigation.
I’m a military veteran with mesothelioma, why is it advisable to hire a lawyer?
Mesothelioma is a serious, life-threatening condition. It is often very expensive to treat mesothelioma. You may require the use of a specialist. Having mesothelioma can make it impossible for you to work. For these reasons, it is important that you are able to receive compensation through a VA claim or defective product claim. Lawyers are familiar with the application process and requirements of filing a VA claim. They can often avoid mistakes that could delay your compensation or cause your claim to be denied. They can also discuss the possibility of pursuing compensation through a lawsuit or through seeking compensation from a mesothelioma trust fund. They can handle the legal pursuit so that you can concentrate on your recovery.
Does it cost any money to have a lawyer help me recover compensation?
It may not cost you any money upfront to have a lawyer help you recover compensation. If you are pursuing a VA disability claim, your lawyer can only charge you legal fees if you have a favorable outcome (your claim is approved). If your claim is denied, you will not owe any legal fees to your attorney. Additionally, the fee that is charged must be reasonable and must be less than 20 percent of the total amount of your past-due benefits. Your attorney receives a portion of your backpay benefits.
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, you are usually charged a percentage of your award, such as one-third of any amount you receive from a settlement or award. If your lawyer works on contingency, you only pay him or her if and when you receive compensation.
Do I need a lawyer to submit a claim with the VA?
Technically, no, you do not need a lawyer to submit a claim with the VA. However, you often get what you pay for. Claims are more likely to be denied if you do not have a lawyer or VSO help you with your VA claim. Additionally, your disability rating may be determined to be lower than it really is, which directly impacts how much you receive in compensation during the life of your claim. A lawyer can help you submit your claim and ensure that you fully develop it to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
Why are Navy Veterans at a higher risk for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma?
Asbestos was part of nearly every component of ships and other vessels for many years. Asbestos was contained in engine rooms, boiler rooms, storage rooms for weapons, mess halls and sleeping quarters. It covered pipes, pumps, condensers, engines and compressors. It was also present in insulation and flooring. Navy members who were tasked with rebuilding these ships were often directly exposed to asbestos, including individuals who were required to construct, demolish, repair or renovate ships. Additionally, because asbestos was contained in so many parts of the ship, many Navy members were exposed to asbestos simply while sleeping in the ship if there was any disturbance to the asbestos. They could also be exposed to asbestos when working on military bases and using vehicles that contained asbestos.
For veterans that served in the military is there a difference between other asbestos lung cancers and mesothelioma?
The VA recognizes mesothelioma as a service-connected disability when the majority of asbestos exposure occurred during military service. However, It also recognizes other asbestos-related medical conditions, including asbestosis, lung cancer and other respiratory conditions. All of these conditions can potentially lead to a successful VA disability claim.
However, other lung cancers may be caused by other factors, such as hereditary factors, exposure to other non-military service related substances or smoking. It might be more difficult for a claimant to prove that asbestos exposure caused these other types of lung cancer.
If you have one of these other conditions, it is important that you have an experienced VA lawyer assist you. He or she can help you gather medical documentation that establishes the link between your asbestos exposure and your lung cancer.
Can a veteran file a mesothelioma lawsuit as opposed to filing a claim with an asbestos trust?
Yes. A veteran has a choice of how to pursue compensation, whether that is through a VA claim, a defective product claim or an asbestos trust. Asbestos trusts were established when asbestos manufacturing companies declared bankruptcy, usually because of numerous lawsuits. Courts involved in these bankruptcies sometimes established victim compensation trust funds. These funds are distributed to individuals who were negatively affected by an asbestos-related cancer. A mesothelioma lawyer can explain whether there is an existing trust fund from which you can seek compensation. If there is not a trust fund established, a lawyer can walk you through the steps of filing a lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer.
How do veterans get compensated for an asbestos related illness from the veterans administration?
The VA recognizes mesothelioma as a service-connected disability when the majority of asbestos exposure occurred during military service. To receive compensation from the VA after developing an asbestos-related illness, veterans can pursue a VA disability claim. You submit an application through the VA in which you identify the illnesses or injuries you have for which you are requesting disability benefits. You can submit a paper application or an online application. As part of the application or as a supplement, you submit medical records that demonstrate a link between your asbestos-related illness and your military service. A VA disability lawyer can help you with this process, gather necessary medical documentation and meet filing deadlines.
Can family members of a deceased veteran with mesothelioma file a claim with the VA or file a lawsuit?
Yes. The VA provides monthly benefits to surviving spouses and dependent children through the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program when the veteran died during military service or from a service-connected disability such as mesothelioma. Additionally, if a veteran was considered totally disabled because of a service-connected disability for a time immediately before his or her death, the family can still receive benefits even if the death was not connected to the disability or military service. The parents of a deceased veteran may also be eligible for compensation through the Parent’’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program.
Also, certain family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the asbestos product manufacturer, depending on state law. This may include a surviving spouse, child, parent or other family member.
Which surviving family members of a veteran can file a claim for benefits or file a lawsuit for wrongful death?
The surviving spouse of a decedent, dependent children and parents of a deceased veteran may be able to file a claim for disability benefits if the veteran died while in military service or from a service-related disability. Certain family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim. This is determined by state law. The surviving spouse is usually able to file a wrongful death claim. Additionally, minor children, disabled children or adult children who were dependent on the decedent may be able to file a claim. Some states allow other family members to file a wrongful death claim, including parents or siblings of the deceased. Others allow a domestic partner or long-term romantic partner to sue while others do not. This type of lawsuit is usually filed by the personal representative of the estate on behalf of the surviving family members.
Are there time limits, on when a family member can file a claim on behalf of a deceased veteran?
There is not a time limit to file a VA claim, but you should file one as soon as possible since it may take many months or years for your claim to be processed. However, there is typically a time limit when filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which is determined by state law. It is commonly within two to three years from the date of the decedent’s death. However, this is extremely state-specific, so it is important that you contact a lawyer to learn about the time limits in your jurisdiction. In some instances, there is a temporary suspension or extension placed on this time limit, so you might be able to file a claim even if the general deadline might have passed.
What are the eligibility requirements for a veteran filing claims with the VA, lawsuits against subcontractors, or asbestos trusts?
To receive VA disability benefits, the servicemember must show that the majority of his or her asbestos exposure was due to his or her military service and that the condition has caused him or her to suffer an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma. You must have been discharged for reasons other than dishonorable.
Asbestos trusts were established by the manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials to provide compensation to individuals who were adversely affected by asbestos exposure. To receive compensation from one of these funds, an asbestos victim must be able to connect his or her illness to a product that contains asbestos that was produced by a manufacturer that has a trust fund set up for this purpose. The victim must usually have a medical diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness, be able to prove a connection to the exposure and file within a certain time limit after being diagnosed.
For a product liability lawsuit, the victim may have to be able to prove that the specific product in question caused the exposure under a strict liability theory. In some states, the victim may have to show that the product manufacturer acted in a negligent way, such as knowing that the asbestos was harmful and not taking steps to minimize its risks.
If a veteran is awarded compensation from one source such as the VA, does that preclude or lessen the award from another source like an asbestos trust?
No. Each claim is considered separately and on its own merit. If a veteran is awarded disability compensation from the VA, this will not make him or her ineligible to receive compensation from an asbestos trust or a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, if a person is awarded compensation from an asbestos trust or personal injury lawsuit, this does not preclude him or her from receiving benefits from the VA. It also does not lessen any VA disability award. An experienced disability lawyer can walk you through your options.
If a military veteran or navy veteran dies from asbestos related lung cancer is it considered a wrongful death?
It may be considered a wrongful death if a veteran dies from an asbestos-related lung cancer. Wrongful death is usually defined as the wrongful taking of the life of another due to negligent, reckless or intentional conduct. The deceased’s surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the asbestos product manufacturer for compensation related to the economic losses of a family member, such as loss of support and loss of inheritance, as well as the non-economic losses like loss of love, affection and companionship. The family may also be able to pursue a VA disability claim for compensation. It is important to talk to an experienced disability lawyer who can discuss your legal options.
What is the process to file an asbestos claim with the Veterans Administration?
You must submit specific paperwork with the VA to file a claim for disability benefits. This includes a completed VA Form 21-536, along with a summary regarding your asbestos exposure. You must also submit a copy of your DD 214 discharge paperwork. You should also provide the medical records that show a connection between your asbestos exposure and your military service. You should also submit a copy of your marriage certificate if you are currently married to establish dependent status. Your documentation should include a diagnosis of your asbestos-related illness and sufficient information about your service that show your likelihood of being exposed during your time of service. You may include additional records, such as biopsy pathology reports, military records and witness statements. Your VA disability lawyer can help you with your claim.
Is filing a claim with the VA for compensation for asbestos related disease considered a disability claim?
Yes. The VA recognizes the connection between military service and asbestos-related diseases. You may be able to receive disability benefits if you were exposed to asbestos during your military career. The process is the same to apply for benefits due to other service-related disabilities even though there may be a greater time delay between the diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease and military service than with other medical conditions.
What if I already have a disability claim with the VA and since have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, will there be additional benefits?
You may have received disability benefits for an injury or illness that was more easily connected to your service shortly after your discharge from the military. Mesothelioma may take years to develop and be diagnosed. If you are already receiving VA disability benefits, your disability rating may be reevaluated and you may be eligible for a greater amount of benefits if you were later diagnosed with mesothelioma. VA pays your monthly disability benefits based on your disability rating, which is based on 10-percent increments, up to a 100 percent disability rating. The higher your disability rating, the higher the amount of your monthly benefits. If you want your disability rating reevaluated, you must request a reevaluation with the VA by submitting the specific form to the VA.
What are the differences between Veteran Service Organization (VSO) and a VA Accredited Claims Agent?
A Veteran Service Organization (VSO) is an organization whose mission is to assist and advocate on behalf of veterans, servicemembers and their families. Some VSOs are congressionally chartered. VSOs assist veterans with the application for benefits, including compensation, education, disability, pension and burial benefits.
A VA accredited claims agent is a person who has completed a formal application and undergone training that is recognized by the VA. They complete a background check, examination and continuing education requirements so that they are current on all recent changes in the laws. These agents have the legal authority to assist claimants with VA applications and benefit processing. They may work for a VSO, or they may work for the state or county government.
As a Veteran, how long does it take to receive money from an asbestos claim?
Every case is different. The VA has one or more regional offices in each state that are responsible for processing VA disability claims. The backlog varies by state. One state may have fewer applications pending while others may have more. This can affect how long it takes a claim to be processed. An average is six to eight months for an initial application.
The VA has a Fully Developed Claims program that allows veterans or their VSO to gather and submit necessary paperwork to speed up the process. As of September 8, 2018, it take 97 days on average to reach a decision.
Having a VA disability lawyer help with the process also helps expedite it. He or she is likely familiar with the necessary forms and proof required to establish your claim and can help guide you through the process.
Do I have to File a Claim or Lawsuit Against My Former Commanding Officer?
No. You do not have to file a claim or lawsuit against your former commanding officer to receive VA disability benefits. Your commanding officer might not have known that you were around any dangerous materials, or he or she may have simply been following orders from above. Instead, you can file a VA disability claim for disability benefits. This process likely will not involve your former commanding officer. You may also choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the asbestos-containing product that resulted in your exposure. Some asbestos manufacturers have established victim trust funds for which you may be eligible.
Having Mesothelioma has been stressful, how much involvement is there in recovering compensation from the VA or filing a Lawsuit?
Every case is unique. Some cases require only minimal involvement with them if a claim is fully developed. If you have a well-documented medical history and military records that demonstrate how you likely were exposed to asbestos, your VA lawyer may be able to handle most of your claim with only minimal involvement. Some lawsuits may also require only minimal involvement if there is an early settlement or an established trust fund in which you can submit proof of your eligibility to receive compensation. Veterans who are not represented by a VA lawyer will likely have a much higher degree of involvement and will need to invest their time into understanding this process and filing the necessary paperwork.
What is the largest amount that can be awarded to me from the Veterans Administration for an Asbestos Claim?
Disabled veterans receive monthly disability benefits based on their disability rating, ranging from 10% to 100%. Mesothelioma is usually rated at 100%. Other forms of cancer or conditions related to military service may be determined at a lower disability rating. The amount of compensation also takes into consideration whether the veteran is married or has a child. The amount is adjusted each year for the cost of living. The 2018 maximum amount for a single veteran with a 100% rating is $2,973.86. A married veteran with a 100% rating can receive $3,139.67. A married veteran with a child can receive $3,261.10.
How common is mesothelioma in Navy Veterans?
Military veterans make up 30 percent of all new mesothelioma cases while only making up 7 percent of the total population. This involves approximately 900 new cases each year. Military veterans also account for 30 percent of 10,000 annual deaths caused by asbestos-related diseases, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of all branches of the military, navy servicemembers are at the highest rate of risk. Navy servicemembers who are most at risk include those who performed their work on ships made before 1983, worked in shipyards between 1930 and 2000, worked below deck before the 1990s or worked in engine rooms without respiratory protection.
I’m a family member of a US Veteran that worked with asbestos, should I be worried that other family members may have second hand exposure?
Some family members may have been victims of second-hand exposure to asbestos due to the work that a United States veteran performed. Asbestos fibers can become airborne or stick onto the clothing of a person who is exposed. Family members and others around the individual may breathe in or ingest these cancer-causing fibers. If the servicemember was deployed away from the family, the exposure is less likely to occur. However, if the family was living on the base with the servicemember, he or she could have been exposed to asbestos. He or she may be able to pursue compensation under an existing trust fund or through a product liability lawsuit. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for information about pursuing a secondhand exposure claim.
I’m a US veteran, and have been divorced, will this impact the compensation received from the VA for an asbestos claim?
If you receive disability benefits from the VA and get divorced, your amount of benefits might be affected. The VA rates for disability benefits is a little less for a person who is not married than for one who is married. For example, the current amount of monthly disability compensation for a veteran with a 100% rating who is unmarried is $2,973.86, compared to a married veteran who receives $3,139.67. VA disability compensation is not subject to division during a divorce, according to the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. Your VA disability lawyer can discuss your particular claim and how your divorce might impact it.
What is Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for Military Veterans?
Special Monthly Compensation for military veterans is a tax-free benefit that is paid in addition the VA disability benefits that a veteran receives. It is paid when a veteran has lost the use of an organ, limb, or extremity, including losing sight in an eye, losing use of a hand, suffering paralysis, loss of a reproductive organ, deafness in an ear or being unable to communicate. This benefit can also be paid when there is a combination of disabilities has a serious effect on a veteran. Talk to a VA disability lawyer for information about whether you might be eligible for this form of compensation.
How is Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) used for surviving family members of US Veterans with asbestos diseases?
Dependency & Indemnity Compensation is a monthly benefit paid to surviving family members who die while serving in the military or from a disability that they developed because of their military service. It is a financial benefit paid to survivors. There are no restrictions on how these funds should be used. It can be used for housing, utilities, college savings, spending or other purposes. It is a tax-free benefit.
How long does it take for the Veterans Administration’s decision to award benefits from an asbestos/mesothelioma claim?
I’m currently facing many heath issues from asbestos; will I have to go to court if a lawsuit is filed against military manufacturers and suppliers?
Not necessarily. If you are part of a class action case, you may not be one of the primary plaintiffs that is required to testify. There may also be a settlement in the case, in which case you may not have to testify. There are trust funds set up for victims by some of the asbestos manufacturers that you may be able to receive compensation from without filing a lawsuit. You do not have to file a lawsuit at all if you do not want to. If you would like to apply for VA disability benefits, you may be able to collect monthly compensation if your claim is approved. This does not require having to file a lawsuit.
Does the Veterans Administration have any new treatment programs or clinical trials specifically for those diagnosed with an asbestos related illness such as mesothelioma?
The Veterans Administration has contracts with two of the world’s leading mesothelioma specialists who can provide more information on new treatment programs and clinical trials for individuals who are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. There are also other organizations that are actively seeking cures. New clinical trials and research programs are released each year. You can contact your local VA hospital for information about new programs or clinical trials in your area.
If a clinical trial is available at a hospital that is not associated with the VA network, can I still attend? How much do clinical trials cost?
If you have private insurance, you do not have to see a doctor within a VA network. You do not have to only receive treatment from VA hospitals either. You can choose to attend a clinical trial if you decide to do so. You should not be required to pay for clinical trials. These are special research studies that are done on live humans, and the costs associated with the treatments provided ae paid by the sponsor of the trial. The sponsor may be the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, a government agency, a university, a pharmaceutical company or a person. Not every applicant for a clinical trial is accepted. You will have to meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the trial.
I was in the Airforce, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
Simply working in the Air Force might have been enough to expose you to asbestos, even if you did not work around the material. Air Force bases have been established around the world. When many of these bases were built, asbestos was contained in the construction materials. The Air Forced used asbestos in operation buildings and sleeping quarters.
Additionally, aircraft and vehicles issued to the Air Force contained the dangerous substance. Asbestos was used in many applications due to its ability to make items fire-resistant and soundproofed. Aircraft engines were commonly wrapped in asbestos to make them fire-retardant. Cockpits also contained this material in the form of a protective coating. Due to these applications, pilots, specialists and mechanics are at an increased risk of being exposed to asbestos.
The Air Force used asbestos to construct its operations buildings and sleeping quarters. Ground vehicles and aircraft also contained asbestos, which was used for fire-resistance, soundproofing, and insulation on clutches, brakes and gaskets. Aircraft engines were wrapped in asbestos as a fire-retardant. The cockpits of several aircraft were also lined with asbestos material as a protective coating. Pilots, mechanics and specialists of many kinds were all at risk of long-term asbestos exposure.
I was in the Army, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
Asbestos is commonly used as a flame-retardant substance. It is used in tanks and army vehicles in brakes, gaskets and clutches. Additionally, army barracks were constructed with this product, placing near all Army members at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos was not regulated until the 1970s in the United States. It is not permanently barred in this country. Additionally, other countries may not regulate its use at all. Soldiers battling in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan could have been exposed to asbestos when buildings were destroyed and air-borne asbestos particles were released. Soldiers who serve overseas are at an increased risk of developing conditions related to asbestos exposure.
I was in the Navy, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
Members of the Navy are at the highest rate of risk for asbestos exposure in the various branches of government. Navy ships were often constructed of various asbestos-containing materials. Servicemembers who built ships or components of ships were at the greatest risk of being exposed to asbestos long term. Navy members who worked below deck to install parts or repair ships were also exposed to asbestos.
Most equipment on Navy ships included asbestos, including boilers that were covered with asbestos insultation. Asbestos was often used as insulation on pipes and in mechanical pumps that powered Navy vessels. Asbestos could be released into the air when Navy servicemembers cleaned this equipment. Asbestos was also included in grinders, gaskets, adhesives, deck cover materials and thermal materials.
I was in the Marines, how could I have been exposed to asbestos?
Marines may be exposed to asbestos when being transported in ships, aircraft and vehicles that contained asbestos. Additionally, they may be housed in buildings or headquarters that were constructed with asbestos. Marines often serve in areas where buildings containing asbestos were exploded and destroyed around them. Asbestos fibers in these buildings may have become airborne and inhaled by Marines.
Marines were often exposed to asbestos when they were being transported in ships that were largely comprised of components containing asbestos and while waiting or working in shipyards. Asbestos was often present in their dining and sleeping quarters. Marines were also exposed to asbestos on land, including military bases where flooring tiles, boiler insulation, pipes and roof materials contained asbestos.