The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 3,000 patients are diagnosed with Mesothelioma in the United States each year. Roughly 1/3 or 1000, (a disproportionate number) of those patients are veterans of all four branches of the U.S. military.
The Veterans Administration (VA) has recognized that historically, military veterans have been exposed to higher mesothelioma risk in large part due to the nature of work, as well as exposure within the work environment. As a result, the VA has set up a process by which military veterans may receive service-connected compensation benefits—in other words, if you are a veteran and have developed an asbestos exposure-related disease like mesothelioma, you may qualify for money or reduced-cost medical through the VA.
In order to be eligible for mesothelioma compensation for veterans, you must fulfill the following criteria:
- Be a veteran who has been discharged from the military under conditions other than dishonorable
- Proven exposure to asbestos during the course of military service
- Have a disease or disability related to this asbestos exposure during the course of military service
Before filing a claim, you will want to gather evidence to support your fulfillment of these criteria. Some forms of documentation that can best support your claim include:
- A pathology report from a biopsy definitively diagnosing you with mesothelioma
- A cytology (fluid biopsy) report, CAT scan, MRI, or PET scan report concluding a high probability of mesothelioma, as well as a letter from your doctor explaining why there is enough evidence of the disease to render a biopsy unnecessary
- Reports relating to the work you did while in the military that demonstrates a high risk of asbestos exposure. For example, if you worked in a shipyard between the 1930’s and 1970’s, there is a high probability you were exposed to asbestos.
How Can Compensation Help?
Not only is a mesothelioma diagnosis debilitating, but it can also be extremely expensive—and in ways that you may not initially anticipate. Compensation can help alleviate some of the financial pressures patients face so that they can focus on their health. Compensation can be used to offset expenses related to:
- Medical treatment. Although you may have good health insurance, mesothelioma treatment is extremely expensive, and co-pays and deductibles can add up quickly. Compensation can help to cover these additional treatment expenses.
- Lost wages or employment. Mesothelioma and its treatment can seriously impair your ability to work, especially if you are employed in a highly physical job. Compensation can help support your living expenses if you are forced to take unpaid leave or, in the worst case, lose your job.
- Secure your family’s future. Unfortunately, the prognosis of a mesothelioma diagnosis is often poor, even with access to quality health care. Only 9% of patients live longer than 5 years past their diagnosis. Mesothelioma compensation can be put towards ensuring your family will be financially safeguarded in the event of your passing.
Mesothelioma Disability Compensation for Veterans
There are two types of mesothelioma disability claims a veteran can file with the VA, depending on the urgency of the matter:
- Traditional Claim. In this type of claim, the VA will gather all of the documentation required to process the claim. Processing typically takes approximately 8 months to adjudicate.
- Fully Developed Claim (FDC). These claims are processed using the VA’s expedited claims processing rule, allowing for quicker determination of benefits. It is the responsibility of the claimant and his or her veteran service rep to submit all supporting documentation with the claim. Processing of this type of claim takes on average 4 months to adjudicate.