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Posted on February 21st, 2020
A veteran who is receiving monthly benefits from the VA, can ask for a reevaluation of their disability rating at any point. Although it is supposed to be simple to request a change, it can often be a lengthy, complex and confusing process, especially for a veteran unable to deal with the VA bureaucracy or unfamiliar with the VA system.
According to the most recent statistics, there are more than 18 million veterans in the U.S. and about 50 percent are age 60 or older. Since the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can take decades to first present, many veterans may not know they have asbestos cancer until later in life when the disease is in the final stages. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledged the link between the veteran's contact with asbestos and severe illnesses.
A "disability rating" refers to the percentage based on the severity of your service-connected condition by the Rating Authorities. Each condition that qualifies is given its own disability rating. All conditions must be service-connected to qualify. Basically, if you can prove you have been exposed to asbestos and developed an asbestos-related disease based upon that exposure during your time in service, you may be able to obtain a full disability benefits rating.
The monthly payments for a service-connected disability are based on a rating given by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA takes each asbestos-related illness into consideration and gives it a numerical disability rating represented by a percentage divisible by 10 (e.g. 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, etc.). If any service-connected condition is severe enough, the veteran will receive a 100% military disability rating. Less severe disabilities receive lower ratings.
A veteran with a 10 percent VA disability rating receives $142.29 a month from the VA and someone with a 100 percent disability rating receives more than 3,000 a month from the Veterans Administration. Asbestos-induced lung cancer and mesothelioma are rated at 100 percent, while non-cancerous diseases are evaluated anywhere from 0 to 100 percent. The rating is primarily based on the results of a pulmonary function test which is a noninvasive test that shows how well the lungs are working. It measures lung volume, air flow, and how well gases such as oxygen get in and out of your blood. This information can help your healthcare provider to evaluate and diagnose certain lung disorders.
Over time, many asbestos-related conditions grow worse. When a disability worsens, the veteran deserves greater compensation for the increased disability. Consequently, increased disability requires an upward adjustment to the veteran's disability rating, which can mean an increase in the amount of disability compensation provided. If it has been more than a year since disability benefits were granted by the VA, the veteran can make a standard request for reevaluation, and provide the VA with any additional medical records which support his/her claim, including doctor's reports, X-rays, and medical test results. If you feel that your rating is not correct for your condition and it has been less than a year since the VA has granted disability benefits, you have the right to file a VA disability rating appeal.
However, any time you ask the VA to open your file to make any adjustments, you open yourselves up to a complete review of all ratings. Many veterans get an unpleasant surprise when they discover that their request for an increased disability rating results in a decrease in the percentage rating. Before you decide to file for an increased rating, make sure you have the medical evidence needed to support your claim.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you have an absolute right to be rated appropriately for each disabling condition you may have incurred during your honorable military service. You do not have to go through this exhausting process alone. Consult one of our attorneys regarding your prospects of being approved for disability benefits in light of your current diagnosis, as we know the VA bureaucracy and what evidence is required to obtain favorable decisions for disabled military veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.