For veterans with mesothelioma, VA benefits can make a huge difference. They include access to world-class health care, cancer specialists, as well as several forms of compensation that help veterans and their families move forward in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. Filing for mesothelioma VA benefits may seem like a complex process, but Sokolove Law can help.
VA Benefits for Veterans With Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by asbestos, a toxic mineral that was used extensively in all branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.
Roughly one-third of all new mesothelioma cases reported each year in the United States come from the brave men and women who served their country with pride. For this reason, veterans with mesothelioma are in turn taken care of by their country in the form of VA benefits.
Sokolove Law is proud to serve former service members and civilians alike, helping them access the benefits and compensation they deserve.
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Types of VA Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees the health care and benefits that all service members have earned. There are many VA resources available to protect and support sick veterans and their families.
VA Health Care
Most veterans are entitled to health care through the VA. This covers regular checkups, appointments with specialists, and other health care services. Veterans can apply for and manage their VA health care online and visit VA facilities across the country.
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and treat. Fortunately for veterans, some of the best mesothelioma specialists — including Dr. Robert Cameron and Dr. Avi Lebenthal — work at VA hospitals. They can provide advice, care, and access to world-class mesothelioma treatment options.
VA Disability Compensation
VA disability compensation is a payment made to veterans who became injured or sick during or as a result of their service. It is also available to veterans whose service made a preexisting condition worse. It is awarded monthly and is tax free.
The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the disability, which is based on the medical information veterans file as part of their claim. The VA rates disability as a percentage, with a 100% disability rating representing the most severe injuries and illnesses.
For veterans with mesothelioma, VA benefits are typically rated at 100%, due to the severity of the disease. In 2021, the monthly payment for 100% VA disability claims is $3,146.42 for a single veteran. The amount is higher for veterans with families.
VA Special Monthly Compensation
For veterans who face significant challenges as a result of their disease or injury, VA Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is available. SMC can cover extra care and assistance for those who have lost limbs, sight, or the ability to take care of themselves.
Veterans, surviving spouses, and parents all may qualify for SMC. Like VA disability compensation, it is tax free. In some cases, veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for this extra aid and assistance.
VA Pension benefits are paid to wartime veterans with financial needs and their immediate family members. Additional VA Pension compensation may be available for veterans who need extra help from a caregiver or who are housebound as a result of a permanent disability.
Veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA Pension benefits. However, there are a number of stipulations, such as a record of active duty wartime service as well as income and net worth limitations.
VA Benefits for Families of Veterans
VA Burial Cost Assistance
VA burial allowance is a flat-rate payment that covers the burial and funeral costs of eligible veterans. The payment is automatically made to surviving spouses without them needing to file a claim. If the veteran does not have a spouse, their children or parents may file for VA burial allowance.
Additionally, there may be resources available to help with other associated costs, such as a transportation allowance and plot or interment allowance.
VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation
VA Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) may be available to children, spouses, and parents of veterans who died in combat or as a result of service-related injury or illness.
The amount of this tax-free, monthly payment may be several hundred or several thousand dollars. It depends on the person’s connection to the veteran, when the veteran passed away, the number of surviving children, and other factors.
The families of veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for DIC, but they need to file a claim.
VA Survivors Pension
A VA Survivors Pension may be available for spouses of deceased veterans who have not remarried and dependent children of the veteran if they aren't married.
Surviving family members must meet net worth limitations in order to qualify for a VA survivors pension. How much money they'll receive from a pension is then determined by looking at their countable income and maximum pension rates set by Congress.
Depending on the circumstances, families of veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for a VA Survivor Pension.
How to File a VA Benefits Claim for Mesothelioma
Filing a claim for VA mesothelioma benefits may seem time-consuming and difficult, as families considering this option may still be dealing with the shock of a cancer diagnosis.
It is important that veterans with mesothelioma understand how to connect with experts who know the ropes, in order to quickly get all of the VA benefits they deserve.
Below, our team has outlined how to file for VA benefits with the help of a mesothelioma lawyer.
1. Contact a VA-Accredited Lawyer
The VA-accredited lawyers who work with Sokolove Law have completed a formal training process in how the VA claims system works. They are recognized by the VA as being capable of assisting veterans who are trying to apply for benefits.
By getting in touch with one of our VA-accredited attorneys, veterans and their families will have a knowledgeable advocate and a guide to help them through the difficult process of filing for mesothelioma VA benefits.
Our VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyers can also help veterans access other forms of financial compensation through legal action. Legal compensation for mesothelioma can sometimes award millions of dollars, and no action will be taken against any branch of the military or government.
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2. Prove Eligibility for VA Benefits
In order for veterans to qualify for mesothelioma veterans benefits, they need to meet certain requirements, which are listed below.
- Military Discharge: Veterans must have been honorably discharged from the military.
- Asbestos Exposure History: Veterans must prove that they came in contact with asbestos fibers in the military. Appropriate documentation may include service records that show they were:
- Stationed on a base or ship with asbestos
- Worked in a high-risk asbestos occupation
- Exposed to combat rubble in urban warfare
- Medical Diagnosis & Confirmation: Veterans must have an accurate mesothelioma diagnosis, confirmed by a specialist.
Veterans may choose to work with a VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer to gather the right information to file a claim. These attorneys understand the country’s long-standing use of asbestos and have documentation of when and where it was used. They can also work with cancer specialists to help mesothelioma patients get a timely, accurate diagnosis.
Mesothelioma may take 20-50 years to develop after asbestos exposure, so veterans who were exposed decades ago will likely not remember the specific asbestos products they worked with. For this reason, it can be hard to precisely determine a veteran's asbestos use during military service, but Sokolove Law can help.
3. File Your Claim
Once a mesothelioma lawyer has gathered all of the needed information to file a VA claim, they can connect their client with a Veteran's Service Officer (VSO). A VSO takes a more hands-on approach to working with the VA and can help the veteran file their claim.
The VA will then review all of the information and make a determination. As of September 2020, it took the VA an average of 131 days to complete a disability-related claim.
The VA may reach out for additional information or to schedule exams, but other than that, there are no additional actions to take after filing. VA claim status can be checked online, and veterans are notified once their claim is approved or denied.
If their claim is denied, veterans have three options to appeal the decision:
- Supplemental Claim
- Higher-Level Review
- Board Appeal
The VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyers who work with Sokolove Law can coordinate with a VSO to provide evidence if an appeal is needed.
4. Start Receiving Compensation
Once a claim has been approved, the VA will send information that explains the benefits and payments awarded, as well as how the agency arrived at their decision.
The effective date, which is the day that veterans and their families begin to receive compensation, is determined by the specific situation of the veteran, when they were injured, when the claim was filed, and other factors.
Other Types of Compensation for Veterans
In addition to VA mesothelioma benefits, there are other financial resources that may be available to veterans who take legal action.
- Mesothelioma Lawsuits: Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew their goods were life-threatening and hid the risk from the military. Veterans with mesothelioma may file personal injury lawsuits against these companies. Survivors may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Asbestos Trust Funds: Some asbestos manufacturers declared bankruptcy and were ordered by the courts to establish trust funds to help the people they wrongly injured. Veterans and their families may file asbestos trust fund claims in order to access those resources.
Sokolove Law is a mesothelioma law firm that can help veterans seek these legal options. Filing a lawsuit or asbestos trust fund claim will never impact a veteran’s ability to seek VA benefits.
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Get Help Accessing VA Benefits for Mesothelioma
No one deserves mesothelioma, least of all the brave members of the Armed Forces who chose to serve their country. Living with cancer is a tremendous burden, and the cost of care can knock a family off their financial footing.
For veterans with mesothelioma, it is critical to take every step possible to maximize the resources at your family’s disposal — both now and in the future.
Over the last 40 years, Sokolove Law has advocated for veterans with mesothelioma, helping them secure the benefits and compensation they deserve. To learn how we can help you, contact us today.
We thank you for your service and would be honored to serve you in return.