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Mesothelioma Survivor Benefits

If you were exposed to asbestos during active military service, your survivors may be eligible to receive survivor benefits in the event of your death from mesothelioma. Eligible family members may qualify for monthly tax-free compensation and health care and educational benefits.

Military personnel from all service branches were exposed to high levels of asbestos, whether they served in the field, were stationed aboard Navy and Coast Guard vessels, or performed high-risk occupations. These veterans may develop fatal asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis caused by military asbestos exposure.

The life expectancy for pleural mesothelioma is 12 to 21 months after diagnosis, raising concerns about the financial security of surviving family members. Survivor benefits can protect families from financial devastation after a veteran’s untimely passing.

elderly man smiling

What are survivor benefits?

Veterans who develop service-connected asbestos-related illnesses qualify for VA benefits, of which survivor benefits are an extension. These benefits financially support a surviving spouse and dependents after the veteran’s death. They include health care benefits and the following tax-free compensation:

Who is eligible for survivor benefits?

Your family members may be eligible to file a VA claim for survivor benefits if your death stems from a service-connected injury or illness and you did not receive a dishonorable discharge. Mesothelioma qualifies as a service-connected illness if you prove you were exposed to asbestos while serving on active duty in the military. 

The following family members may be eligible for benefits:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Dependent children under 18
  • Dependent children over 18 and in an approved school program
  • Surviving parents

Monthly Compensation for Survivors

The monthly compensation payable to survivors depends on specific details about the veteran’s military service and whether they purchased a survivor benefit plan.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and indemnity compensation is a monthly benefit paid to a surviving spouse, children, or parents after the veteran’s death from service-connected mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness. The monthly amount varies based on the relationship with the survivors and is adjusted annually for inflation.

Surviving Spouse and Children

The 2023 monthly amounts for spouses and children are:


Payout per Person

Total for All Survivors

Surviving Spouse



Disabled child over 18



One child and no spouse



Two children and no spouse



Three children and no spouse



Four children and no spouse



“Helpless” child



A disabled child over 18 only qualifies for survivor benefits if the disability is permanent and began before age 18.

Surviving Parents

Surviving biological parents, adoptive parents, or foster parents of eligible veterans who died from service-connected mesothelioma may qualify for DIC if the countable income is below the thresholds set by Congress. Parents do not need to be dependents to receive this benefit.

This benefit is available to low-income surviving parents, and the monthly payout is calculated using annual income. For example, if you are the only surviving parent, your annual countable income must be below $18,240 to qualify. Your monthly benefit will be between $5 and $774.

If both parents are alive, the income limit is $24,518, and the monthly benefit amounts range between $5 and $529.

VA Survivors Pensions

A VA survivors pension provides monthly compensation to the surviving spouse and dependent children of a deceased veteran who performed active duty during wartime and was not dishonorably discharged. The following survivors may qualify:

  • An unmarried surviving spouse
  • A child under the age of 18
  • A child ages 18 to 23 enrolled in a VA-approved education or training program
  • A permanently disabled adult child whose disability began before age 18

The VA survivors pension program is a need-based program. If you are a survivor applying for this benefit, your income must be below the maximum annual pension rate to qualify. 

Your net worth must also be below the limit, which changes yearly. As of 2023, the net worth limit is $150,538. Your net worth includes your annual income, personal property, and real estate that is not your primary residence.

If you are a surviving spouse and need assistance with your daily needs or are housebound, you may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound Benefits. These programs increase your monthly income limits and pension benefits. 

Your household composition and whether you qualify for either program determines your income limits. Income limits are: 

Family Composition

Annual Income Limit

Monthly Income

Spouse only



Housebound spouse



Spouse in need of aid and attendance



With a dependent child