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Which Asbestos-Related Diseases Make Veterans Eligible for VA Compensation?

Veterans diagnosed with nearly any disease which occurred as a result of military asbestos exposure are considered as having a certain level of disability by the VA and thereby qualify for financial benefits.

answered by Channika DeSilva Gonzalez

Upon filing a VA disability compensation claim, veterans will have to prove the correlation between their disability and asbestos exposure

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes most diseases resulting from military asbestos exposure as a form of disability which may affect veterans who served during the last century. Accordingly, veterans can file a VA disability compensation claim for both malignant and non-malignant diseases. Furthermore, if a veteran suffers from multiple illnesses as a consequence of asbestos exposure, they can request financial compensation for each. For instance, the co-occurrence of asbestosis with colorectal cancer, which is not uncommon among victims of asbestos exposure, grants veterans the right to apply twice for VA disability compensation.

One of the following asbestos-related diseases makes a veteran eligible for filing a VA disability compensation claim:

Misdiagnosis is quite common among asbestos-exposed individuals as the symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases are almost similar to other lung disorders. Tuberculosis is one such respiratory disease that mimics the clinical as well as radiographic features of most asbestos-related lung diseases. Therefore, differentiating between tuberculosis and asbestos-related lung diseases is challenging, even for the experts. For this reason, we encourage you to always seek a second opinion from a specialist in asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos Related DiseasesVA Compensation
Asbestosis $2k/month VA + $25k ATF
Pleural plaques $2k/month VA + $55k ATF
Lung cancer $4k/month VA + $100k ATF
Mesothelioma $5k/month VA + $300k ATF
Kidney cancer + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $60k ATF
esophageal/throat cancer + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $50k ATF
colorectal cancer + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $80k ATF
bladder cancer + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $60k ATF
gastrointestinal cancer + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $70k ATF
other cancers + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $50k ATF
other lung diseases + asbestosis $2k/month VA + $30k ATF

Disclaimer: The amount of compensation depends on many factors, these are estimates we gathered from our own database.

In order to claim VA disability benefits, veterans should provide solid evidence regarding the actual exposure to asbestos that occurred while in service. For instance, there should be proof of direct contact with asbestos products such as being a plumber and not just being on the ship. It is worthy of note that veterans who suffer from mesothelioma and asbestosis are not required to provide additional evidence to support the connection between their illness and exposure, since the only cause of these diseases is asbestos. As for the other diseases, veterans will have to submit written evidence from a medical specialist when applying for VA compensation.

How Do Asbestos Trust Funds Differ from Veteran Affairs Disability Compensation Benefits?

VA disability benefits, if awarded, will be paid on a monthly basis whereas the asbestos trust pays out a huge one-time compensation based on your diagnosis. Due to decreasing funds, trusts usually pay out only 30% of a claim. Unlike the VA disability benefits, compensation from an asbestos trust fund can be claimed by family members of veterans if they have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition.

Can A Veteran Work If They Receive VA Disability Benefits?

In general, veterans with a disability rating can still work, but – as is always the case – there are certain exceptions. While veterans who have a low to mild disability rating may continue working, those with a higher disability rating cannot, since they are seen as unemployable. Therefore, if you are a veteran whose disability has been estimated to be 100% under the Individual Unemployability rating, you are not legally allowed to have "substantial gainful employment", according to the Code of Federal Regulations.

If, however, you received a 100% schedular rating, either as a combined percentage or as the result of a single diagnosis, your eligibility for employment will not be affected at all. Consequently, you can choose to work as much or as little as you wish, as this rating does not measure your ability to hold down a job.

Can I Still Serve in the U.S. Military While Receiving VA Disability Benefits?

As long as you can obtain medical clearance, you may continue your military service despite having a disability. The only factors on which your serving in the military depends are how severe your diagnosis is and the extent to which your illness prevents you from performing your job. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that you cannot receive military pay and disability benefits simultaneously.

Were you subjected to asbestos exposure while serving in the military? Considering how prevalent asbestos was between 1935 and 1975, veterans who were on active duty have inevitably been in contact with it on at least one occasion. While not everyone who was exposed to asbestos will develop a related disease, the risk is very high for U.S. veterans, particularly for those in the Navy, since they would spend a lot of time surrounded by asbestos dust. Unfortunately, toxic fibers remain in the lungs forever after inhalation, posing a constant threat to your health. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. provides asbestos screenings to veterans free of charge. After sending in your chest X-ray results, our medical experts will let you how severe your asbestos exposure was, as well as how likely it is to cause health issues in the future. For more information, please contact us at 205.328.9200.

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