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Degrees of Disability in a VA Disability Asbestos Exposure Case

Most asbestos exposure illnesses, like mesothelioma, are fatal. The five-year survival rate for this rare and aggressive form of heart-lung cancer is under five years. Tumors hide in the thick membranes of the mesothelium (the layer between the heart and lungs). Once these tumors mature, they spread quickly.

Other asbestos exposure illnesses, like pleural thickening, could be partially disabling. Asbestos fibers inflame this part of the lung. An inflamed pleural layer almost literally crushes the lungs. The extent of the damage varies considerably in different victims, especially if the victim did, or didn’t, smoke or have another lung disease risk factor.

Social Security Disability is all or nothing. These victims are disabled or not. However, the VA uses a rating system to determine the degree of disability and, therefore, the amount of cash compensation. A nationwide asbestos exposure lawyer can also obtain medical benefits for these victims. In many cases, since asbestos exposure illnesses are so severe, the medical benefits may be more valuable than the monthly cash.

Service-Related Connection

The rating system is irrelevant unless a nationwide asbestos exposure lawyer can establish a service-related connection. The burden of proof on this point is only as likely as not. So, a little evidence goes a long way, and the veteran always gets the benefit of the doubt.

Service records and a pre-1980 construction date, especially if the veteran was in the Navy, are usually sufficient.

The DoD removed most asbestos from most military facilities in the 1980s and 1990s. Deployment at any such facility before 1980 might be enough proof to establish a service-related connection. Many servicemembers also handled asbestos-laced products, like auto parts, at motor pools. As for the naval construction date, before 1980, asbestos was in any high-heat or potentially explosive area, such as a boiler room or an ammunition dump.

Buddy statements often supplement the service record. Colleagues testify about the servicemember’s daily activities.

Determining the Disability Rating

Usually, at a C&P (compensation & pension) medical examination, a VA doctor evaluates the servicemember’s medical condition and assigns a disability rating. This system is flawed on several levels.

C&P doctors look out for the interests of patients, but their paychecks come from the government. Most people are very hesitant to bite the hand that feeds them. So, in a borderline case, the VA doctor often promotes the VA’s interests.

Furthermore, mostly because of the influx of cases under the PACT Act, many VA doctors are now contractors. The VA pays these doctors but doesn’t control them. As a result, a doctor with a background in trauma injury evaluation might examine a pleural thickening patient. Results are usually inaccurate in these situations.

Additionally, a disability is not just a medical issue. Some injuries or illnesses disproportionately affect some people. For example, if a veteran is now a gym teacher, trouble breathing is a serious issue. However, if the veteran is now a high school teacher, trouble breathing isn’t as big of a deal.

Furthermore, injuries and illnesses interact. If a veteran has trouble breathing, the veteran might become inactive and gain weight. Obesity causes a host of health problems.

Count on a Tough-Minded Attorney

Mesothelioma victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. We have offices in Arizona and six other states from coast to coast.

Client Reviews
You are the reason my mother was able to cope with losing a loved one. You and your staff are always helpful and go above and beyond to help. You have been great to my family and especially my mother. My mother would always come out of your office with a peace of mind. R.S.
We are so appreciative of the results Michael Throneberry got for us! Michael Throneberry and the attorneys we worked with were focused on our peace of mind and seemed to care for my family and me as if we were family. They truly get it. We were thrilled with the result and would recommend this firm to anyone. M.S.
During one of my family's darkest and trying times, Michael Throneberry was there to provide help. His personal experience with mesothelioma made certain that he advised us like family. Thank you, you are wonderful. Do yourself a favor and let him help you during this trying time. He is a true 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. T.S.
Michael Throneberry gave me a whole new outlook on attorneys'! A very caring person who was more concerned with my health than a case. Truly unexpected! He explained possible conditions in english and even found the right doctors in my area. Prepared me for the right questions to ask the doctors so that I can understand my illness better. A great person and a great human being! Thank you. Greg