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How to File a Mesothelioma VA Claim

Veterans with mesothelioma as a result of military asbestos exposure can file a claim for compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs. A VA claim can enable you to receive free health care and monthly compensation of up to $3,737.85. This amount may be higher if you are married or have dependent children. Contact us today to learn more about filing a mesothelioma VA claim.

Sam Taylor (1)

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

If you are a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer or another asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible to receive monthly tax-free benefits and no-cost health care through the VA. The primary known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and veterans in all branches of the service experienced heavy asbestos exposure in the military.

Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps veterans experienced the heaviest military asbestos exposure due to the significant use of asbestos on Navy ships and Coast Guard vessels. Asbestos exposure in the Army other branches was common while serving in older buildings overseas, especially when buildings exploded or were destroyed. 

Air Force veterans were exposed to asbestos while working around mechanical aircraft parts susceptible to friction or likely to be exposed to high heat, such as brakes, engine gaskets, and wiring insulation. Members of all branches may have been exposed to asbestos while resting in their barracks.

If you were exposed to asbestos while serving on active duty in any branch of the military or while participating in inactive duty training and you have since contracted mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible to file a claim for VA benefits. Call us today at (866) 380-2732 for answers to all of your questions about how to file a mesothelioma VA claim.

WWII veteran saluting

Who Is Eligible To File an Asbestos-Related VA Claim?

You may be eligible to file a mesothelioma VA claim if your discharge was not considered dishonorable and you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness from exposure during your military service. 

You will need your service records, medical records, and a written statement from your doctor proving that your mesothelioma diagnosis resulted from your military service. Specific eligibility criteria vary according to which types of VA claims you file.

How to File a Claim For Mesothelioma VA Benefits

While each type of VA claim involves a separate application and specific documentation requirement, the filing process for a VA claim is similar across most claim types.

a. Your personally identifying information, such as your social security number and date of birth
b. Service records showing your occupations in the military, dates of service, and where you were stationed
c. Medical records
d. Financial documents, such as bank statements
e. The death certificate if claimants are surviving family members
f. Bank information for direct deposit of your benefits

After your claim is approved, you will receive an award letter advising you of the approval, the amount you will receive, and when benefit payments will commence. If your claim is denied, the letter will include the reasons for the denial and provide instructions for filing an appeal.

Types of VA Benefits for Veterans with Mesothelioma

The VA offers several types of benefits to veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the military and subsequently developed an asbestos-related illness. Mesothelioma is a latent illness that typically develops decades after exposure. However, there is no time limit on applying for most veterans benefits.

You or your family may be eligible for one or more of the following VA benefits if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness:

  • VA Disability Compensation
  • VA Pension
  • VA Health Care
  • Aid & Attendance
  • Housebound Benefits
  • Dependency & Indemnity Compensation
  • Survivors Pension for families of deceased veterans
  • CHAMPVA health insurance for caregivers and families
  • Funeral and burial benefits

VA Disability Compensation for Mesothelioma

Disability compensation is a tax-free monthly payout to veterans who have become disabled by an injury or illness stemming from their military service. To receive VA disability compensation for mesothelioma, you must request it by filing a claim. 

You will need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ and provide supporting documentation about your military discharge, mesothelioma diagnosis, and asbestos exposure in the military. You can accomplish this by submitting a copy of your DD-214, service records, and medical records. If you cannot obtain all your records, you can give the VA permission to locate them.

person in military uniform in wheelchair holding leg

If you worked in the following occupations, the VA will presume you were exposed to asbestos in the military. These occupations include the following:

  • Airman apprentice
  • Aviation boatswain’s mate
  • Aviation chief metalsmith
  • Aviation machinist’s mate
  • Aviation electrician’s mate
  • Aerographer’s mate
  • Aircraft maintenance man
  • Aviation storekeeper
  • Aviation structural mechanic
  • Airman
  • Aviation ordnance man
  • Aviation fire control technician
  • Airman recruit
  • Aviation radioman
  • Aviation support equipment technician
  • Aviation electronic technician
  • Aviation Antisubmarine warfare operator
  • Aviation antisub warfare technician
  • Aviation maintenance administration man
  • Boatswain’s mate
  • Boilermaker
  • Boiler technician
  • Builder
  • Construction driver
  • Contructoin electrician
  • Construction mechanic
  • Construction man
  • Coxswain
  • Commissary man
  • Communication technician
  • Cryptologic technician
  • Damage control man
  • Disbursing clerk
  • Data processing technician
  • Data system technician
  • Dental technician
  • Electronics technician
  • Electrician’s mate
  • Engineman
  • Equipment operator
  • Fire control man
  • Fire control technician
  • Gas turbine system technician
  • Gunner’s mate
  • Hospital Corpsman
  • Hospital man
  • Hull maintenance technician
  • Interior communication technician
  • Instrument man
  • Lithographer
  • Machinist mate
  • Machinery repairman
  • Master-at-arms
  • Mess management specialist
  • Metalsmith
  • Mine man
  • Missile technician
  • Molder
  • Motor machinist mate
  • Musician
  • Navy counselor
  • Operations specialist
  • Optical man
  • Painter
  • Personnel man
  • Pharmacist
  • Photographer’s mate
  • Photographic intelligence man
  • Pipefitter
  • Postal clerk
  • Printer
  • Quartermaster
  • Radar man
  • Radioman
  • Seaman
  • Seaman apprentice
  • Shipfitter
  • Ship’s cook
  • Ship’s serviceman
  • Signalman
  • Sonar technician
  • Sonarman
  • Sound man
  • Steelworker
  • Stewardsman
  • Stewart
  • Stewart apprentice
  • Steward’s mate
  • Storekeeper
  • Teletype
  • Torpedoman’s mate
  • Trade man
  • Utilities man
  • Water tender
  • Yeoman

If you were exposed to asbestos in a military occupation not listed here, you may still be eligible for disability compensation for your asbestos-related illness. However, the VA may request additional information from you during the claims process.

If you successfully prove you have service-connected mesothelioma or lung cancer and are single with no dependent children, you will receive monthly compensation of $3,737.85

  • This is increased to $3,946.25 if you are married with no dependent children. 
  • You will receive an additional $334.49 per month for each dependent child.
  • If your spouse is disabled, $191.14 will be added to your monthly payout.

VA Health Care for Veterans with Mesothelioma

VA health care provides medical treatments to veterans at VA medical centers nationwide and at approved private providers. As an honorably discharged veteran, you may already receive some VA health care benefits. However, when you have service-connected mesothelioma, your health care benefits may be upgraded.

The VA will assign you to a priority group upon approval of your VA Disability Claim. If you have mesothelioma, lung cancer, or a severe case of asbestosis, you will likely be assigned to Priority Group 1, which provides the highest level of coverage. You will receive no-cost medical treatment that is free of deductibles and copays. 

VA Pensions for Mesothelioma

A VA pension is monthly compensation for wartime veterans with limited financial means. To qualify, you must prove that your net worth is lower than the limit set by Congress. This limit is adjusted annually. In 2024, the net worth limit is $155,356

Your income must also be lower than your Maximum Annual Payment Rate, or MAPR. This rate varies depending on your marital status and dependents. The 2024 MAPR for single veterans with no children is $16,551.

You must be 65 or older or have a permanent, total disability. Those with mesothelioma or lung cancer generally meet this qualification. 

You can apply for a VA pension online, by mail, in person, or with the help of an accredited representative. Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to complete Form 21P-527EZ: Application for Veterans Pension and provide the following supporting documentation:

  • Your social security number
  • Your military service history showing you served at least 90 days of active duty, including at least one day during wartime
  • Financial information, such as bank statements for you and your dependents
  • Your work history
  • Direct deposit information for your bank account
  • Medical records, such as chest X-rays, test results, and doctor’s reports
  • Your DD-214

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits are monthly allowances added to your VA pension benefits if you need someone to assist you with daily activities or cannot leave your home because of a disability. The VA allows eligible veterans to apply for just one of these allowances. You cannot receive both.

You most likely qualify if you have mesothelioma and receive a VA Pension. To file a claim for either of these benefits, you must complete VA Form 21-2680: Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance. Your doctor must also complete the indicated section on the form.

This form can be downloaded and mailed to your pension management center or completed in person. You will need to submit the following supporting documents with your claim:

  • A doctor’s report showing you need Aid & Attendance or Housebound Benefits
  • Details about how you accomplish your daily activities
  • Details that show how your mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer affect your ability to care for your own needs or leave your home

VA Benefits for Surviving Family Members

One of the top concerns of veterans with mesothelioma is how their families will be provided for after their death. The VA provides benefits for the family after the death of the veteran. Family members are also eligible for some benefits while the veteran is still living when the veteran’s mesothelioma results in a disability rating of 100 percent.

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or VA DIC, is a monthly tax-free benefit for eligible family members of veterans who passed away from a service-connected asbestos-related illness. This benefit is available to the surviving spouse, qualified surviving children, and surviving parents. If you are a surviving spouse, you may be eligible for $1,612.75 in 2024 or more if you have disabilities, dependent children, or other qualifying circumstances.

When applying for VA DIC, you must complete the appropriate VA application form, depending on your relationship to the veteran. You can apply online, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office near you.

Health Care for Dependents Through CHAMPVA

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA, is health insurance that covers many medical expenses. It acts as secondary insurance to any additional health insurance you own. 

CHAMPVA is available to the surviving spouse and dependent children of veterans whose death resulted from a service-connected condition. You can also receive CHAMPVA if the veteran is still living but has received a 100 percent disability rating for mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis.

To apply for CHAMPVA, you must complete and submit VA Form 10-10d: Application for CHAMPVA Benefits and VA Form 10-7959C: Other Health Insurance Certification. You must also submit a copy of your Medicare card if you have Medicare. Submitting the following optional documents expedites your claim:

  • If the veteran is living, the VBA rating decision page showing the veteran is permanently and totally disabled
  • If the veteran is deceased, the death rating
  • The veteran’s DD-214 or Report of Separation.
  • A copy of your children’s birth certificates or adoption documentation
  • School enrollment documents for qualifying children ages 18-23

If you send the optional documents, the VA can process your claim in about six weeks. Without this documentation, the VA must access this information through federal agencies. Thus, processing your claim will take anywhere from two to eight months.

Funeral and Burial Benefits

The VA honors veterans by ensuring eligible veterans, their spouses, and their children receive a proper burial. Most veterans are eligible if they did not receive a dishonorable discharge. These benefits include funeral honors, funeral and burial reimbursement, and burial in a national cemetery with a headstone, perpetual care, and memorial items.

To receive burial benefits, you must complete an application including information such as the deceased veteran’s social security number or VA file number, the date and place of birth, the date and place of death, and the veteran’s military service history. This application may be completed online or with the help of a Veterans Service Officer. You will need the following supporting documents: 

  • The veteran’s DD-214
  • The veteran’s death certificate
  • Documentation on transportation costs, if claiming
  • A statement of account completed by the funeral director or cemetery owner, preferably on letterhead

If the veteran’s mesothelioma is service-connected, there is no deadline for claiming funeral and burial benefits. For non-service-connected mesothelioma deaths, there is a time limit of two years.

Survivors Pension

The VA Survivors Pension is available to the surviving spouse and children of a deceased veteran who was eligible for the VA pension while living. To qualify, you must have a net worth below the limit set by Congress, which is $155,356 in 2024. This amount is adjusted annually. Your monthly income must also be lower than the MAPR for survivors. 

This amount varies based on your relationship to the veteran. The MAPR for a non-disabled surviving spouse with no children is $14,529. This amount is raised by $2,831 for each dependent child. Your annual countable income is deducted from the MAPR to determine your annual compensation rate. This rate is then divided by 12 to calculate your monthly payout.

You can apply for a VA Survivors Pension online, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office. You will need to complete VA Form 21P-534EZ when you apply, and you will be required to provide the following supporting documents:

  • The veteran’s DD-214
  • The veteran’s death certificate
  • Service records showing that the veteran served during a qualifying wartime
  • A marriage certificate showing you were married to the veteran for at least one year preceding death
  • Financial information, such as bank statements and check stubs that verify your net worth and annual income

If you were not married for at least a year before the death, you may still qualify if you can provide evidence that you had a child at any point before or during your marriage. 

If you are a qualifying child, you can apply for a VA survivors pension using the same form. You must submit documentation showing one of the following:

  • You are unmarried and under 18.
  • You are between 18 and 23 and attending a qualifying school program.
  • You have been disabled since before you turned 18.

VA Education Benefits

The surviving spouse and dependent children of a veteran who passes away due to service-connected mesothelioma may be eligible to receive education benefits through the VA’s Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program. This program provides monthly benefits to help cover the cost of college, career training, career counseling, apprenticeships, and job training. 

Surviving spouses of veterans who died before August 1, 2023, are eligible for education benefits for up to 10 years after the veteran’s death. Surviving children between the ages of 18 and 26 also qualify. This period can be extended if the children surviving children join the military. If the veteran dies after August 1, 2023, there are no time limits to claim VA education benefits.

You can apply for education benefits online or by mail. You will need to complete VA Form 22-5490. If you have already enrolled in an educational program, you can advise the program that you applied for education benefits through the VA. The school can then submit your application online for you.

Is There a Way to Fast-Track My Claim?

The VA offers a Fully Developed Claim, or FDC, program for individuals wishing to have their claims processed as quickly as possible. An FDC is a claim in which all the information and verification are provided with the initial application. To qualify, take the following steps:

  1. Submit your completed application and indicate that you are submitting your claim through the FDC program on item one of the application on page eight.
  2. Certify that no additional evidence will be required.
  3. Attend any required VA medical examinations.
  4. Submit all supporting documents with your claim, including the following:
    a. Relevant private treatment records, if any
    b. A list of relevant information the VA can access through federal records, such as through a VAMC
    c. Information needed to access National Guard and Reserve personnel and treatment records

There is no risk to participating in this program. If the VA needs additional information or finds your application does not qualify for the FDC program, it will convert the claim to the standard process without further delaying your application.

What If My Claim Has Been Denied?

A denial can occur for various reasons and does not necessarily mean you are ineligible. The VA allows you to appeal any decision with which