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VA Compensation for Asbestos Exposure - 2024 Rates, Eligibility & Disability Ratings

If you are a veteran with an asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible for monthly tax-free VA compensation ranging from $171.23 to more than $3,737.85. The 2024 VA compensation rate for asbestos exposure is based on your disability rating and number of dependents. The disability rating for mesothelioma and lung cancer is generally 100 percent, which yields the highest payout. Asbestosis and pleural diseases are rated from zero to 100 percent, depending on their severity.

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

Sam Taylor

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

The VA disability rating determines the severity of an injury or illness resulting from active military duty. If you are a veteran with mesothelioma and proven military asbestos exposure, you will receive a 100 percent disability rating. This rating allows you to receive the maximum monthly VA disability compensation payout. Those with other asbestos-related conditions may also qualify for monthly compensation, depending on their disability rating.

If your disability rating for an asbestos-related illness is less than 60 percent, you still may qualify for a VA pension if you served during wartime and have limited resources. You do not need a disability rating to qualify for the pension program. The amount you receive is based on your income.

The monthly rate for both of these programs is adjusted annually for inflation.

Types of Compensation Available for Veterans with Mesothelioma

If you were exposed to asbestos in the military and subsequently developed mesothelioma, you may be eligible for the following VA benefits for mesothelioma:

  • Disability compensation – monthly benefits based on your disability rating
  • VA Pension – monthly benefits based on your income
  • Aid and Attendance – monthly benefits for veterans in need of a caregiver
  • Housebound benefits – monthly benefits for veterans whose disabilities prevent them from leaving home


Additional compensation may be available through a mesothelioma lawsuit. While it is not possible to sue the military, you may be able to sue the manufacturers and distributors who supplied asbestos to the military. Proceeds from a mesothelioma lawsuit do not affect your VA disability compensation. However, your VA pension could be affected since you must have limited resources to qualify for this program.

Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers can advise you on whether a mesothelioma lawsuit is right for you, and we can identify the suppliers who are liable for your asbestos exposure in the military.

Do I Qualify for VA Compensation for Asbestos Exposure?

You may qualify for VA compensation if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your discharge from the military was not dishonorable.
  • You have served on active duty in any branch of the military.
  • You have served in the National Guard or Reserve and meet minimum active duty requirements.

You will have to prove that you were exposed to asbestos in the military to qualify for VA disability compensation. However, this is not necessary to receive VA Pension benefits. For a VA pension, you only have to prove you served during wartime and that your income and assets are below the program limits.

Asbestos Exposure Eligibility for VA Disability

To be eligible for VA Disability, you must have a service-connected disability with a rating of at least 10 percent.

To meet this requirement, you will need to prove you were exposed to asbestos during active duty and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. You will also need a statement from a doctor stating that your diagnosis is connected to your military asbestos exposure.

Presumptive Service Connection

If you worked in certain specialties while serving in the military, the VA presumes that your asbestos exposure occurred in the military.

Asbestos exposure in the Navy was most prevalent due to the extensive use of asbestos on ships. As a result, nearly every occupation aboard ships and in shipyards qualifies for this presumption. Asbestos exposure in the Coast Guard was particularly notable on cutters, resulting in a presumption of service-connected asbestos exposure for many Coast Guard veterans.

Military asbestos exposure is not limited to vessels. The VA concedes that personnel in all branches were exposed to asbestos while working in various specialties, including land and air vehicle mechanics, airmen, builders, construction workers, electricians, firefighters, and more.

For example:

  • If you were exposed to asbestos in the army while working as an electrician’s mate, the VA would presume your asbestos-related illness resulted from military service.
  • If you served in the Marines as a firefighter and later developed mesothelioma, the VA will concede you experienced asbestos exposure in the Marines.
  • If you were an Airman in the Air Force and you now have an asbestos-related illness, the VA will presume you were exposed to asbestos in the Air Force.

Even if your condition is not on the VA’s list of specialties with probable asbestos exposure, you can still qualify for VA benefits, but your application may require more extensive documentation.

VA Disability Ratings

A VA disability rating measures how severely an injury or illness connected to your military service affects your overall health and ability to function. This rating is always expressed as a percentage, with higher numbers representing more severe disabilities.

The VA calculates your disability rating by considering your medical records, information from federal agencies, and your VA claim exam results if the VA requires one. Once the VA confirms your diagnosis, it assigns you a disability rating based on criteria in Title 38, Section 4.97 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The VA uses your disability rating as the primary basis to calculate how much monthly disability compensation you will receive. It also determines the health care services you can receive and how much you must pay in deductibles and copays, if any. Higher ratings result in the highest monthly payout and the lowest share of health care costs.

VA Disability Rating for Mesothelioma

If you have a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma, the VA will assign a 100 percent disability rating. The disability ratings for other asbestos-related conditions are as follows:

  • Lung cancer – 100 percent
  • Asbestosis – 10 to 100 percent
  • Pleural plaques and effusions – 0 to 100 percent

If you receive a disability rating that is lower than 100 percent for asbestosis or pleural plaques, your rating could change over time if your condition progresses or if you later develop mesothelioma. If you have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, your rating is unlikely to change.

VA Disability Rating For Asbestosis

If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, your disability rating will vary based on lung function test results and other symptoms, as shown in the table below.

Disability Rating Forced vital capacity Diffusion Capacity of the Lung for Carbon Monoxide by the Single Breath Method Maximum Exercise Capacity Minimum Oxygen Consumption with Cardiorespiratory Limitation
100% Less than 50% predicted Less than 40% predicted Below 15 ml/kg
60% 40-55% predicted 40-55% 15 to 20 ml/kg
30% 65 to 74% predicted 56 to 65% predicted -
10% 75 to 80% predicted 66 to 80% predicted -

If you have pulmonary hypertension or are dependent on oxygen, your disability rating will be 100 percent, regardless of the other test results.

VA Disability Rating For Pleural Plaques and Effusions

Pleural plaques are a form of fibrosis characterized by inflammation of the outer lining surrounding the lungs resulting from asbestos exposure. Pleural effusions are areas of fluid build-up in the same area. If you have been diagnosed with these conditions, you may qualify for a disability rating if you receive the test results in the table below.

Disability Rating Diffusion Capacity of the Lung for Carbon Monoxide by the Single Breath Method Maximum Exercise Capacity Minimum Oxygen Consumption with Cardiorespiratory Limitation
100% Less than 40% predicted Below 15 ml/kg
60% 40-55% 15 to 20 ml/kg
30% 56 to 65% predicted -
10% 66 to 80% predicted -

If you have the following conditions in addition to pleural plaques and effusions, you will receive a 100 percent disability rating:

  • Right heart failure
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy
  • Pulmonary hypertension diagnosed by Echo or cardiac catheterization
  • Episodes of acute respiratory failure
  • Requirement for oxygen

Disability Compensation Rates for Veteran Asbestos Exposure

Your monthly disability compensation is determined by your disability rating and the number of dependents you have, including your spouse, children, and parents. These amounts are adjusted annually for inflation.

Disability Rating Single Veteran with No Dependents Veteran with Spouse
10% $171.23 $171.23
20% $338.49 $338.49
30% $524.31 $586.31
40% $755.28 $838.28
50% $1,075.16 $1,179.16
60% $1,361.88 $1,486.88
70% $1716.28 $1,861.28
80% $1,995.01 $2,161.01
90% $2,241.91 $2,428.91
100% $3,737.85 $3,946.25

These are the base payment amounts. Your monthly payment will be higher if you have one or more dependent parents or children living with you, a child over 18 who attends college, or a spouse who receives Aid and Attendance.

Asbestos Exposure Eligibility for VA Pension Benefits

VA pensions are available to eligible veterans who meet all of the following criteria:

  • At least 24 months of active duty after 1980 or at least 90 days before 1980
  • At least one day of service during wartime
  • At least 65 years old or permanently disabled

In addition, your income and assets must be within the guidelines established by Congress. These guidelines are adjusted for inflation. As of 2023, your net worth cannot exceed $150,538. Net worth is calculated by totaling the following:

  • Your annual income
  • Your spouse’s annual income
  • The value of any real estate or personal property you own
  • The value of your primary residence, car, and home appliances are generally not counted. Personal property that does count includes stocks, bonds, furniture, and boats.

When calculating your annual income, the VA will count the following:

  • Salary and wages
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Overtime
  • Tips

The income limits for a VA pension are equal to the maximum annual pension rate, or MAPR. It varies based on your family size and composition, as described below.

Single Veteran with No Dependents

The income limit for a single veteran with no dependents is $16,037. If the veteran qualifies for Housebound benefits, the limit increases to $19,598. If the veteran qualifies for Aid and Attendance, the limit increases to $26,752.

Veteran with Dependent Spouse or Child

The annual income limit for a veteran with a dependent is $21,001. This amount increases as follows with qualification for Housebound or Aid and Attendance:

  • One spouse qualifies for Housebound: $24,562
  • Both spouses qualify for Housebound: $28,121
  • One spouse qualifies for Aid and Attendance: $31,714
  • One spouse qualifies for Aid and Attendance, and one for Housebound: $35,266
  • Both spouses qualify for Aid and Attendance: $42,433

For each additional dependent, the annual income limit increases by $2,743. If you have educational expenses and unreimbursed medical bills that exceed 5 percent of your MAPR, deduct these sums from your income.

VA Pension Rates for Veteran Asbestos Exposure

VA pensions are available to war-time veterans with limited resources. To qualify, you cannot have more than $155,356 in assets, and your income cannot exceed your maximum annual pension rate. The maximum annual payment rate is the maximum benefit amount you can receive.

The 2024 maximum annual pension rate for single veterans with no dependents is $16,551, or $1,379.25 monthly. The VA calculates your pension by deducting your annual income from the maximum annual pension rate. The VA then divides the difference by 12 to determine your monthly payout.

The maximum annual pension rate is higher for veterans who have dependents, are housebound, or depend on a caregiver.

If you cannot leave your home because of a disability, you can receive an additional monthly allowance called housebound benefits. If you require a caregiver, you can receive an allowance known as Aid and Attendance.

However, you cannot receive both housebound and Aid and Attendance benefits.

The VA pension rates for veterans entitled to additional allowances in 2024 are shown in the table below. These rates are adjusted annually for inflation.

Your Circumstance Maximum Annual Payment Rate Maximum Monthly Payment Rate
Single and housebound $20,226 $1,685.50
Single and qualified for Aid and Attendance $27,609 $2,300.75
Dependent spouse or child $21,674 $1,806.17
Dependent spouse or child and housebound $25,348 $2,112.33
Dependent spouse or child and Aid and Attendance $32,729 $2,727.42

Your maximum annual payment rate increases to $2,831 per dependent if you have additional dependents. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, your 100 percent disability rating will disqualify you for a VA pension because the income from your VA Disability Compensation will be higher than the maximum annual pension rate.

However, if you are diagnosed with another asbestos-related illness rated at 60 percent or lower, you may qualify for a VA pension. However, the combination of your disability benefits and any other income must not exceed the maximum annual pension rate.

If you meet the requirements for both programs, you can only receive one benefit. In this circumstance, the VA will award you the benefit that will pay you higher compensation.

Mark Lanier