Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation for Asbestos Exposure
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides compensation for veterans who suffer from a medical condition connected to the veteran’s military service. Quite often, these types of conditions arise as a result of the traumatic injuries on the battlefield. The VA also considers asbestos-related diseases, like mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer, to be conditions that are compensable. VA benefits can provide critical resources to a veteran suffering from the devastating effects of asbestos-related illness.
Asbestos in the Military
Individuals who served in the military, particularly before the 1980s, were at a high risk of being exposed to materials that contained asbestos. This is because the properties of asbestos made it highly suitable for use in machines that needed to be resistant to fire and heat. Though vehicles and other machines in all branches of the military contained asbestos, it was most widely used in naval ships. Because the effects of asbestos fiber exposure usually do not appear for several years, or even decades, it is common for veterans who served during the middle of the twentieth century to just now be diagnosed with serious conditions.
Process for VA Disability Compensation for Asbestos Exposure
The first step in obtaining VA disability benefits is to file a claim, which is accomplished through VA Form 21-526. The VA will obtain evidence, such as the veteran’s military history and medical records. This process can take up to four months, but can be expedited by providing the VA with the evidence required. In addition to collecting evidence, the VA may request that the veteran submit to an examination at a VA hospital.
After all of the evidence is collected, the VA rates the veteran’s disability. This rating system is a percentage, anywhere from zero to 100 percent, in 10 percent increments. The amount of benefit a veteran will receive is dependent upon the disability rating he or she receives. The rating decision usually takes between two to three months.
Once the decision is made, the VA provides the veteran will all of the reasons for the denial or acceptance of the disability claim. It is important to keep in mind that the decision can be appealed.
In order to prove a case for benefits, the veteran must show:
- That he or she suffers from a current medical condition;
- An event or condition occurred;
- That the event or condition occurred during military service (for asbestos-related claims, this often occurs as a result of service on a naval ship or through work at a shipyard); and
- A causal connection between the event and current condition.
Help for Veterans
If you served in the military and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition or disease, it is possible that you are eligible for VA benefits. For more information about methods of recovery as a result of being exposed to asbestos, you should speak with an attorney with knowledge in this specialized area. At the Throneberry Law Group, we would be happy to use our experience and expertise to help you.