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I am a veteran who was exposed to asbestos in the military, but I have no symptoms. Can I still file a VA claim?

Disability compensation is a financial benefit the VA pays out only to veterans with diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Therefore, a veteran is not eligible for it in the absence of a proper asbestos-related diagnosis.

answered by Channika DeSilva Gonzalez

Veterans with a history of military asbestos exposure should permanently monitor their health, as the risk of developing a serious disease remains high throughout their entire life

As the VA deems only diseases that occur as a consequence of military asbestos exposure disabilities, veterans without a proper diagnosis are not eligible for financial compensation and thereby cannot file a claim in this regard. Nevertheless, if you know for a fact that you were subjected to asbestos exposure while serving, you should closely monitor your health, as you are at high risk of developing a related illness anytime in the future. After inhalation or ingestion, asbestos fibers cause inflammation and tissue scarring gradually, hence the long latency period diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer have. It usually takes between 10 and 50 years for the damage asbestos produces to internal organs to turn into a disease per se. Therefore, if you have a history of asbestos exposure, you are unfortunately susceptible to becoming ill for the rest of your life.

It is also important to know that symptoms rarely show up in the early phase. When veterans begin experiencing physical distress, it typically means that their disease has become quite severe. For this reason, timely detection is crucial. Veterans who know they were exposed to asbestos in the military are strongly advised to undergo a thorough medical examination every year, regardless of whether they currently have symptoms. Keeping a close eye on your health will help you avoid being diagnosed with a serious disease when it is too advanced to respond to treatment.

Finally, since the rate of misdiagnosis is alarmingly high among victims of asbestos exposure, we wholeheartedly encourage you to seek a second opinion from a specialist if you already have a diagnosis. Because the symptoms of lung disease caused by asbestos exposure often overlap those of more common respiratory conditions such as asthma or pneumonia, even medical experts are prone to assigning the wrong diagnosis. Thus, being evaluated by multiple specialists is necessary when asbestos is responsible for your illness. A false diagnosis can affect your prognosis dramatically, as you will not benefit from effective treatment, which will inevitably lead to the aggravation of your condition.

What documents must accompany my VA disability compensation claim if I was injured by military asbestos exposure?

In addition to military records proving your asbestos exposure and medical evidence stating your current diagnosis, which a lawyer specialized in asbestos litigation can help you gather more efficiently, you will have to submit the following documents when requesting VA disability compensation:

  • a filled-out VA Form 21-526, which must be accompanied by a summary of your asbestos exposure
  • a copy of your DD 214 (discharge paperwork), which you can recover from the National Personnel Records Center if you no longer have the original
  • if you have a spouse, a copy of your marriage certificate, as having a dependent will increase the amount of compensation you are eligible for

Filing a VA disability compensation claim can be a very nerve-racking endeavor, especially when you have a disease such as lung cancer or asbestosis, which are known for causing a lot of physical and emotional distress. Our attorneys, who have been relentlessly helping victims of asbestos exposure since 1990, are here to provide veterans with permanent assistance in the process of applying for VA disability compensation. With the aid of a highly experienced legal team, they will thoroughly prepare your claim for submission so that you can continue to prioritize your health and treatment.

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