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Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits

If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the United States military and subsequently developed an asbestos-related illness, you may qualify for veterans’ benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA benefits include monthly disability compensation, free mesothelioma treatment, and monthly pension payouts for those with limited income. Contact us today at the Lanier Law Firm if you have questions about your VA claim.

Kevin LaMarca (1)

Legally Reviewed By: Kevin LaMarca
Senior Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos

Kevin LaMarca

Legally Reviewed By: Kevin LaMarca
Senior Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos

Eligible military veterans are entitled to receive VA benefits if asbestos exposure in the military causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Veterans in all branches have a heightened risk of asbestos exposure compared to civilians.

Asbestos exposure in the Navy accounts for the heaviest military asbestos exposure due to the significant use of asbestos on Navy ships. Asbestos exposure in the Coast Guard was significant for the same reasons. 

Army personnel and Marines experienced heavy asbestos exposure on foreign lands when buildings and structures containing asbestos exploded or were demolished. Heavy asbestos exposure in the Army also occurred in army barracks at home and abroad. Asbestos exposure in the Air Force was common for airplane mechanics working with friction parts, brakes, and engines. 

Veterans who served in any of these branches and contracted mesothelioma may be eligible for veterans’ benefits to cover health care costs and provide an income. If you served in the Reserves or National Guard, you may also be eligible if you were called to active duty and developed an asbestos-related illness.

Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers can determine which benefits you qualify for and advise you on filing a mesothelioma VA claim.

Types of VA Benefits Available to Veterans
with Mesothelioma

The benefits available to veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses include the following:

  • VA disability compensation
  • VA pensions for veterans with limited income and resources
  • Aid & Attendance or Housebound Benefits for veterans receiving VA pensions
  • Free medical treatment without deductibles
  • Survivors benefits for families when veterans die of asbestos-related illnesses

VA Disability for Mesothelioma

VA Disability is a monthly tax-free payment for eligible veterans with disabilities stemming from their military service. These are known as service-connected disabilities. You may be eligible if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness and can prove you were exposed to asbestos while serving on active duty or participating in active or inactive duty training.

You will also need a disability rating, which is a measurement of how disabled you are as a result of your military asbestos exposure. Disability ratings range from 10 to 100 percent, with higher ratings yielding more compensation. The VA will assign your disability rating while processing your claim. If your disability rating is 30 percent or higher, you can receive additional compensation if you have dependents. 

woman sitting across from attorney at table

The amount you receive is adjusted annually at the same rate as the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients. The table below shows the 2024 VA Disability compensation amounts for veterans with 30 percent and 100 percent ratings:

Family Status 30 Percent 100 Percent
Single veteran with no dependents $524.31 $3,737.85
Married veteran $586.23 $3,946.25
Married veteran with a dependent child $631.64 $4,098.88
Single veteran with a dependent child $565.59 $3,877.22
Each additional dependent child under 18 $100.10 $103.55
Dependent children over 18 attending college $100.10 $334.49
Additional compensation if a spouse is disabled $57.79 $114.55

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, you will generally receive a disability rating of 100 percent. If you are diagnosed with asbestosis or have severe pleural effusions that impact breathing, you may receive a disability rating ranging from 10 to 100 percent, depending on the severity.

VA Pension Benefits for Mesothelioma

A VA pension is a need-based payment awarded to wartime veterans with limited income and assets. VA pensions are paid monthly.

Your monthly payment is calculated using only your countable annual income. The Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR, is the highest compensation available. This amount varies based on how many dependents you have, as shown below:

Family Status Maximum Annual Pension Rate
No dependents $16,551
Spouse or child $21,674
Each additional child Add $2,831

If your medical expenses exceed five percent of your income, the excess amount is deducted from your annual income. Once the VA calculates your countable income, the following formula is used to calculate your monthly payout:

  • The MAPR minus your countable annual income = Your annual pension rate
  • Your annual pension rate divided by 12 = Your monthly payout

Eligibility Requirements for VA Pension Benefits

To qualify for a pension, you must have served at least one day during wartime, have limited resources, and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are at least 65 years of age
  • You have a permanent and total disability
  • You are a patient in a long-term care facility due to a disability
  • You receive Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income

You do not have to have a service-connected disability to qualify for the VA pension. Veterans with service-connected mesothelioma who have a 100 percent disability rating will typically not qualify for the pension program because the disability income will exceed the VA pension income limits. 

However, if you have another asbestos-related illness with a lower disability rating, your disability compensation will likely be lower, and you may still qualify for a VA pension. You may also be able to receive a VA pension while waiting for your disability claim to be approved.

VA Pension Income Limits

For you to qualify for a VA pension, your household’s net worth must be lower than the limit established by Congress. This limit changes every year. The net worth limit effective from December 1, 2023, until November 30, 2024, is $155,356. The VA uses the following formula to calculate your net worth:

Assets + annual income = your net worth.

  • Real estate you own
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Furniture
  • Boats

Your primary residence, automobile, and basic household items like appliances are not counted. Mortgages on real property are deducted from your net worth.

Annual income includes wages, commissions, tips, retirement income, annuity payments, business income, and rental income. When calculating your monthly income, the VA deducts educational and medical expenses you pay out of pocket from your income.

VA Pension Wartime Service Requirement

To qualify for a VA pension, you must have served for at least 90 days of active duty before September 8, 1980, at least 24 months of active duty after September 7, 1980, or served as an officer and started active duty after October 16, 1981, without having previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.

You must have served at least one day during one of the following wars:

  • World War II: December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
  • Korean conflict: June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War era: November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975
  • Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a future date set by Congress or Presidential proclamation

Aid & Attendance for Veterans with Mesothelioma

Aid & Attendance is an additional monthly payment to veterans and widows of veterans who are eligible to receive VA pensions and require assistance with daily activities. To qualify, you must meet the eligibility requirements to receive a VA pension and meet the following clinical criteria:

  • Bedridden other than medical treatment and therapy
  • Severe visual impairment with corrected vision of 5/200 or worse or a diagnosis of concentric contraction with a visual field of five degrees or less
  • Live in a nursing home due to physical or cognitive disabilities
  • Require assistance with some activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and toileting

If you qualify, an extra $921.25 to $921.50 will be added to your monthly payment amounts.