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How to file a VA claim for asbestos exposure?

Because gathering strong evidence of military asbestos exposure can be very challenging to do on their own, veterans need the legal assistance of a specialized attorney to file a claim with the VA.

answered by Channika DeSilva Gonzalez

Veterans are eligible for compensation both from asbestos trust funds and the VA

Since it has numerous convenient properties, such as fire resistance, and was very cheap, asbestos was highly prevalent in the military during the last century, which inevitably led to exposure. As a consequence, 30% of veterans struggle with a disease as a result of asbestos exposure today. Despite the military having knowledge of the serious health effects of asbestos exposure on human health, they did not cease to employ it. The majority of asbestos exposure occurred during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, between 1920 and 1980. Nowadays, veterans who were injured by asbestos exposure, which can lead to terrible diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, can file a claim with the asbestos trust funds which manufactured the dangerous products they were exposed to while serving in the military, as well as with the VA since they also offer compensation.

The legal process of pursuing compensation for a veteran injured by asbestos exposure is complex and, while veterans can file a claim on their own, the majority who do so will fail to recover the compensation they deserve, as strong evidence of military asbestos exposure is required. Only a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases can provide the necessary legal assistance to veterans who decided to seek compensation for their disease. The attorney will only request the military and medical records of the veteran, documents which will be used as proof of asbestos exposure and related diagnosis. Furthermore, the legal experts will gather additional evidence by conducting in-depth research to build a claim which is irrevocable. It is important to know that, if you are a veteran who struggles with a disease as a consequence of military asbestos exposure, you can file a claim with multiple asbestos trust funds, as all the companies which contributed to the development of your disease must be held accountable. This will also result in a larger amount of compensation for you.

Which diseases make veterans eligible for compensation?

It is worthy of note that only some diseases which stem from military asbestos exposure qualify you for compensation. To file a claim, you must have been exposed to asbestos for at least 3 years, as this is one of the eligibility criteria of asbestos trust funds and the VA. The diseases which make you eligible for recovering compensation are the following:

It is important to know that diseases that are caused by asbestos exposure take between 20 and 50 years to develop, as asbestos fibers gradually produce inflammation and scarring to the organ or tissue they attach themselves to which, over the years, may give way to disease. For this reason, it was only recently that veterans began seeking compensation for their injuries. If you have one of the diseases above and you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, you qualify for compensation both from asbestos trust funds and the VA, as long as asbestos fibers are present in your lungs. This is why you need to have solid medical evidence to support your claim. Your medical records must clearly state the causal relationship between asbestos exposure and the disease you suffer from.

What type of VA disability compensation claim can veterans injured by asbestos exposure file?

The VA has numerous options when it comes to the type of claim a veteran can file to receive financial compensation for their disability. However, those who struggle with diseases caused by military asbestos exposure may apply only with a claim based on post-service disability. Since the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers results in disease in 10 to 50 years after exposure, veterans with diagnoses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis, pleural plaques, or asbestosis meet the criteria of post-service VA disability compensation claims. Veterans whose health was affected by Agent Orange, mustard gas, or radiation, those who suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, as well as Prisoners of War, also meet the requirements.

Regardless of what type of disability compensation claim a veteran files, the VA will classify it as follows upon submission:

  • Original claim. Veterans who seek disability compensation for the first time file original claims.
  • Reopened claim. Sometimes, a veteran cannot be granted disability compensation after filing a claim due to failure to provide adequate evidence. If they do not appeal the VA’s decision within one year, their claim will be pending until they are able to submit additional proof. When the VA reviews the new evidence, the claim is referred to as a reopened claim.
  • New claim. A veteran may file a new claim for a VA benefit they may or may not have requested priorly. Unlike what reviewing a reopened claim entails, the VA’s decision will be taken based on entirely new evidence in this case, since no other proof has been submitted before.
  • Secondary claim. This type of claim is to be filed by veterans who already have a disability caused by military asbestos exposure and develop a second one, as well as by those whose initial disease has worsened over time. Following submission, they will receive additional compensation for their recent service-related disability.

Applying for VA disability compensation is a complex and time-consuming process, the more so when you suffer from a debilitating illness.

What benefits will the VA offer veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the military?

When you file a claim with the VA for military asbestos exposure, they will offer you disability compensation by determining your level of disability, which can range from 0 to 100. The sum of money you will receive every month from the VA will primarily depend on your level of disability. For instance, veterans who struggle with mesothelioma will receive the largest amount of compensation, since their disease is the most serious and debilitating health problem which can ensue following asbestos exposure. It is important to know that, in order for your claim to be approved by the VA, you must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military. Sometimes, the VA requires the veteran to be examined by one of their medical professionals to assign them a diagnosis, even though they may already have one.

The following are the types of VA benefits that veterans can claim:

  • Disability compensation
  • Special monthly compensation
  • Dependency and indemnity compensation
  • VA Healthcare
  • VA burial benefits
  • VA pension
  • VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits

What documents are necessary to file a claim for asbestos exposure as a veteran?

As previously mentioned, strong evidence must accompany your claim, as this is the only way asbestos trust funds and the VA will offer you financial compensation. However, gathering all the necessary documents is often a challenging task, which is why you need to file a claim with the help of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases. These are the documents which will be used as evidence to support your asbestos exposure claim as a veteran:

  • military records which mention what occupation specialty you had while serving, where you were stationed at, during which activities you would come in contact with asbestos and how frequently it would happen, as well as which asbestos-containing products were present on your military base
  • medical records which clearly state the connection between your diagnosis and asbestos exposure, such as a chest X-ray, CT or MRI scan results or pathology reports

Our attorneys provide quality legal assistance to veterans injured by military asbestos exposure

With 30 years of professional experience, our attorneys specialize in toxic exposure cases, particularly in those which involve asbestos, and they have recovered compensation for thousands of veterans over recent years. They will help you file a claim with the asbestos trust funds of the companies which manufactured the hazardous products you were exposed to in the military, as well as with the VA. Our legal experts will gather additional evidence to support your claim so that you will be able to obtain the maximum compensation you are eligible for. Taking legal action will not only provide you with the compensation you deserve for your physical and emotional distress but will also hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. Finally, it is important to know that asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years in most states, which is why you should take legal action as soon as you receive your diagnosis, as if the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer qualify for compensation.

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