Veterans are not permitted to seek compensation directly from the U.S. Government, but can request benefits from the Veterans' Administration if they can prove they developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure only during their military service. The VA serves as a significant financial and medical resource for veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma.
History of the VA
The United States has the most extensive benefits system available to veterans than any other country. This system dates back to 1639 during the war of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and the Pequot Indians when the pilgrims passed a law allowing disabled soldiers to be supported by the colony. The first domiciliary and medical facility for veterans was authorized by the Federal Government in 1811. The actual Veterans Administration was established in 1930 to create one consolidated entity for government activities concerning veterans.
Benefits Available to Veterans
There is a wide range of benefits and resources available to veterans who weren't dishonorably discharged. The VA offers benefits such as:
- Disability compensation
- Pension, which is also available to surviving spouses and children
- Survivor benefits
- Life insurance since it is so difficult to obtain insurance from private companies due to the extra risks involved in military service or service-connected disability
- Cemetery and burial assistance.
Survivor Benefits Available for Family Members of Veterans
A widow or widower is entitled to full benefits at age 65 or reduced benefits as early as age 60, while a disabled survivor can seek benefits at age 50. A survivor of any age caring for the decedent's child under age 16, or a disabled widow or widower receiving Social Security Benefits are entitled. Benefits are available to unmarried children up to age 18, or age 19 if still attending high school full-time. Stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children are eligible for benefits under certain circumstances. Children who were disabled before the age of 22 and who remain disabled, or dependent parents older than 62 years are eligible.
Filing a Claim
There are time limits involved in filing a claim with the VA and they vary by state, but typically within two years of diagnosis, a claim should be filed.
The claim process is as follows:
- Fill out a VA Form 21-526.
- After signing a medical release, your private medical records are reviewed along with your application.
- The VA may request that you have a physical examination at a VA hospital, although some types of claims do not require this.
- Your file will then be rated approximately 2 to 3 months after receiving your application. The rating determines if you will get paid and how much,
based on laws passed by Congress. Shortly thereafter, a decision will be made on your claim.