Additional Compensation for Veterans
In addition to receiving financial compensation from a civil lawsuit as a result of being diagnosed with mesothelioma, United States Veterans may also be entitled to receive certain Veterans Administration-related (“VA”) benefits based on a diagnosis of mesothelioma. These may include medical and/or financial (disability) benefits and are based on service-related exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure during service can occur directly (i.e. repairing equipment onboard ship) or indirectly (i.e. via transport vessel overseas). Length of exposure to asbestos during service can be significant (years) or minimal (weeks or months). It can also be substantial (multiple exposures to different sources).
Generally, the VA offers “special benefits programs” for service-related disorders, such as Agent Orange, Gulf War syndrome, ionizing radiation, etc. These programs allow Veterans to receive applicable benefits based solely on a diagnosis of a qualifying disease. They do not require Veterans to prove how/where they were exposed.
To date, however, the VA has not classified asbestos exposure, and a subsequent diagnosis of mesothelioma, for a “special benefits program” despite the thousands of Veterans suffering from mesothelioma as a result of service exposure. The VA does not, at present, classify mesothelioma as a specific “service-connected” condition. As a result, those Veterans suffering from mesothelioma must complete an Application for Benefits. This application must be supplemented with a diagnosing medical/pathology report indicating mesothelioma and sufficient proof of specific asbestos exposure during service.
Even though Veterans suffering from mesothelioma may be entitled to receive VA-related benefits, many are unable to complete the application process due to a lack of sufficient proof of asbestos exposure during time of service. Many also forego the right to pursue VA-related benefits because of the lack of guidance in completing the application.
Attorneys representing asbestos victims should have experience and expertise in assisting Veterans with completing the Application for Benefits. They should be able to offer guidance to Veterans on filling out the requisite forms, collecting the necessary medical documentation and, most importantly, identifying sufficient proof of asbestos exposure during service years. Attorneys representing Veterans should have previously conducted extensive investigations and understand the significance of deck logs, muster rolls, MIR (Material Inspection Reports), ship databases, war diaries, vendor/purchasing information, private shipyard records, etc. and be knowledgeable about them.
As diligent and knowledgeable attorneys, we are prepared to assist our Veteran-clients who have questions concerning these potential benefits. We are proud to serve those who have served our country.