COVID-19 Updates: We are keeping our staff, clients and their family members safe and healthy. Our law firm is 100% operational, available in-person and 24/7 assistance by email and phone. Read More

What other benefits can I receive in addition to VA disability compensation?

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on September 27th, 2020

Veterans who were injured by military asbestos exposure are not only eligible for disability compensation from the VA. They and their family members can receive a series of other benefits, such as compensation from asbestos trust funds or special monthly compensation from the VA.

Today, over 30% of veterans struggle with a disease as a consequence of military asbestos exposure. While the majority of veterans who were injured by asbestos exposure are aware that they can receive disability compensation from the VA, there are other benefits they are entitled to, such as special monthly compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation and low-cost or free healthcare. Furthermore, veterans who developed a disease as a result of asbestos exposure are eligible for filing a claim with the asbestos trust funds of the companies that manufactured the products they came in contact with while serving in the military. This will result in substantial compensation, particularly if they have a form of cancer such as lung cancer, mesothelioma or esophageal cancer. It is important to know that, as a veteran, you qualify for receiving compensation both from the VA and from asbestos trust funds, as applying for one does not disqualify you from seeking money from the other.

Financial compensation from asbestos trust funds

If you were injured by asbestos exposure while on duty, you cannot file a claim with the military, but with the asbestos trust funds of the companies that manufactured the hazardous products you were exposed to. There are currently more than 60 asbestos trust funds set up by major companies that filed for bankruptcy that provide asbestos victims, including veterans, with the compensation they deserve. A lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases will help you file a claim with one or multiple asbestos trust funds, depending on how many companies exposed you to asbestos in the military, which is bound to result in the maximum sum of money you are eligible for. Because the claim must be accompanied by pertinent evidence, the assistance of a lawyer whose main area of practice is toxic exposure is essential. They will help you gather the necessary proof and carefully prepare your asbestos claim for submission. The eligibility criteria for asbestos trust fund compensation are the following:

  • you must have been exposed to asbestos for at least 3 years while serving in the military
  • you must have developed a disease that has a definitive causal relation with asbestos exposure
  • you must provide your attorney with your military and medical records, documents that will be used as evidence to support your asbestos claim
  • the statute of limitations, which is 3 years from the moment of diagnosis in most states, must not have been exceeded

Special monthly compensation

This benefit is available through the VA for veterans who are severely disabled and thereby need the assistance of another person to perform daily activities. Consequently, if you need the aid and attendance of a family member or a social worker on a regular basis, you qualify for special monthly compensation, where payment ranges between $3,800 and $5,000 per month. The sum of money you will receive depends primarily on your disability rating, which can range between 10% and 100%. After a thorough medical examination, the VA will assign you a disability rating. However, special monthly compensation also depends on the number of dependents the veteran has. Thereby, the more people who are dependent on you, the larger the sum of money will be. It is worthy of note that this benefit is also available to the spouses and parents of veterans. If you are housebound or bedridden, the special monthly compensation will increase.

There are specific levels of disability for special monthly compensation you will be assigned in addition to the disability percentage you have from applying for disability compensation. These are the following:

  • levels L to O: they cover specific disabilities and situations, such as if you are permanently bedridden or need the help of another person with basic needs such as eating, dressing and bathing
  • level R: it applies if you need the help of someone else to perform daily tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing
  • level S: it covers veterans who cannot leave the house because of their disability

It is noteworthy that special monthly compensation will only be given to you in addition to disability compensation only if you are severely disabled. Otherwise, you will receive it instead of disability compensation. Special monthly compensation is always tax-free.

Dependency and indemnity compensation

This is a monthly benefit for the surviving spouses of veterans who lost their lives to diseases caused by asbestos exposure. If the veteran passed away due to mesothelioma, the sum of money their spouse will receive is approximately $1,319. It is important to know whether the veteran was receiving disability compensation or not during their lifetime, their spouse must file a claim to receive this benefit, as it is a separate one. This benefit is also tax-free. Furthermore, surviving spouses with children under the age of 18 will receive a larger sum of money as dependency and indemnity compensation. The following family members can file a claim for this benefit in addition to surviving spouses:

  • unmarried children under the age of 18
  • unmarried children under the age of 23 who attend school
  • children with disabilities

Besides mesothelioma, the VA also considers lung cancer as a result of military asbestos exposure as 100% disabling, so if the life of your spouse who was a veteran was claimed by this disease, you will also receive a larger sum of money. It is important to keep in mind that, in order to receive dependency and indemnity compensation, the veteran must have not been discharged from the military dishonorably. Because filing a claim for this benefit is a complex process, the help of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases is crucial, as they will guide you through every step of the process. The only documents you will need to provide your attorney with are the military and medical records of the veteran to be used as proof to support your indemnity and dependency compensation claim. You should also know that if you lost a family member who was a veteran to a disease caused by military asbestos exposure, you can also file a wrongful death claim with asbestos trust funds to recover additional compensation on their behalf.

Healthcare from the VA

The VA offers affordable or free healthcare to veterans injured by military asbestos exposure. However, only veterans who have a low-income qualify for free healthcare, whereas the others will have to pay a certain sum of money, which is lower than usual, for healthcare from the VA. It is worthy of note that the VA will provide veterans with free healthcare if their mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure that occurred at least 50% during military service. The medical services you can receive from the VA if you are a veteran injured by military asbestos exposure include:

  • medication
  • check-ups
  • mesothelioma surgery
  • chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • clinical trials
  • mental health services

The VA Health Care is a national network of medical centers and doctors available specifically for veterans. By virtue of this program, veterans can receive specialty care for health problems associated with military service from medical experts, including for diseases caused by asbestos exposure. While many veterans avoid receiving healthcare from the VA, as they heard that their services are poor, the truth is that numerous VA medical centers have medical experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases stemming from military asbestos exposure. To receive healthcare from the VA, you must enroll in the system, which can be achieved by filing a claim. Once again, the help of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases may come in handy, as they will be able to gather all the necessary evidence of your asbestos exposure and your related diagnosis to eventually get you enrolled in the VA healthcare system.

Our attorneys will help you file a claim with asbestos trust funds and the VA

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation for veterans injured by military asbestos exposure and their surviving family members, our attorneys will help you receive the benefits you deserve for your physical and emotional suffering. At the moment, we are handling over 30,000 cancer diagnosis claims on behalf of veterans and we will gladly provide you with quality legal assistance as well. Because cancer is the most serious disease asbestos exposure can result in, your claim will be expedited so that you can receive the money you deserve within the shortest time possible. Thereby, if you struggle with cancer as a result of military asbestos exposure, please contact our legal team.

If you are too ill to partake in the legal process, a family member can step in and help you gather the necessary documents as evidence to support your claim. One of the many benefits of working with our law firm is that if you have a cancer diagnosis, you will not have to travel to our office in Birmingham, Alabama, as the entire legal process will unfold over the phone and through e-mail. The discussion with our legal team over the phone will take approximately 2 hours, as we must thoroughly check your eligibility and collect all the necessary information concerning your military asbestos exposure and your related diagnosis from you. If you do not have enough evidence, our resourceful legal team will help you gather the necessary proof to accompany your claim, whether it will be filed with asbestos trust funds or with the VA. It is important to know that we prioritize cancer patients and have until December to file a claim on your behalf. For additional information, we strongly encourage you to contact our law firm and we will promptly answer your questions.