Compensation Claims For Mesothelioma: Pros And Cons – If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos during military service, you may be entitled to mesothelioma-related veterans benefits or mesothelioma survivor compensation. This publication explains Veterans’ benefits for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions, including where exposure typically occurs and what disability benefits the VA can offer you as a result.
You experience cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, and then you are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Veterans with mesothelioma or other cancers linked to asbestos exposure can receive disability compensation if they can link that exposure to their military service. If you served before 1980, you likely worked near asbestos, especially if you were in the Navy. Gulf War veterans with mesothelioma were also more likely to experience burn pits. This post explains mesothelioma veterans benefits and can help clarify whether you qualify.
Compensation Claims For Mesothelioma: Pros And Cons
Asbestos is a mineral composed of flexible fibers that are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. Because it is an excellent insulator and fire resistant, manufacturers frequently used it in all types of construction in the 20th century. But in the 1950s, researchers determined that asbestos was carcinogenic. Its use was not completely banned in the United States until 1989.
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Asbestos was used in many military buildings, airplanes and other places until it was phased out in the 1970s, making it impossible to know how many veterans were exposed to the toxic material during their military service. Some locations are clearly associated with asbestos exposure. Veterans who served between 1940 and 1970 are at risk for asbestos-related diseases. Exposure to asbestos can cause many health problems, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and various other types of cancer.
Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases usually do not appear for 10 to 40 years. Diagnosis of the disease is relatively difficult because of the time that has passed since the onset of the disease and how symptoms develop and worsen over time.
“If you are exposed to something like asbestos, you may experience symptoms ranging from asthma to esophageal problems,” said Virginia disability attorney Joseph Scott.
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Mesothelioma is a rare and terminal cancer that affects the tissues lining the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. Exposure to asbestos causes this. Its symptoms include cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Adjuvant treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can relieve symptoms and prolong a person’s life. Mesothelioma is common in older people.
The U.S. Navy used more asbestos than any other military branch, using it on almost every ship from the 1930s to the 1980s. This means that almost every sailor has been exposed to asbestos at some point. Some sailors were at greater risk due to the closed air roles on their ships.
All naval ships contained asbestos, but some contained more than others. Aircraft carriers, support ships, submarines, battleships, destroyers, cruisers, frigates, minesweepers, cutters, amphibious ships and patrol boats are known to contain significant amounts of asbestos.
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Navy veterans are not the only veterans exposed to asbestos. A similar role for Coast Guard fighters is also likely to be unveiled. Asbestos products were used aboard Coast Guard ships from the 1930s to the 1980s, putting veterans at risk of developing similar asbestos-related conditions. Marines stationed on cruise ships are also at risk.
To be eligible for VA disability benefits due to asbestos exposure, you must have been exposed to it while in the military.
Mesothelioma and lung cancer caused by asbestos are classified under diagnosis code 6819 at 100 percentile in the Schedule of Disabilities. Noncancerous diseases, such as asbestosis (diagnosis code 6833), can be classified as 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%. The classification is based largely on the results of a lung function test.
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In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your exposure to asbestos and the resulting symptoms you are currently experiencing. You will then undergo a physical examination that includes a chest X-ray, laboratory tests, and pulmonary (lung) function tests.
Because the main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, experts usually must provide military service records to prove exposure. The potential for exposure is particularly high for those who served on naval vessels before the asbestos phase-out date, but may also apply to those who served in the military during the time the government used asbestos.
Essentially, you need to prove that it is at least possible that your current diagnosis of mesothelioma is related to a service exposure or event to get a 100% disability rating from the VA. If you work in an industry (like construction, for example) where you were exposed to asbestos after service, this could result in the claim being denied without sufficient evidence.
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The exception to this rule is professionals with mesothelioma who qualify as toxic exposures under the PACT Act. All cases of respiratory cancer are presumptive cases in Gulf War veterans and post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits and toxins. Because the case is hypothetical, you do not need to provide proof that your mesothelioma is service connected. You’ll just need to prove a current rating and have records showing eligible service.
Total Disability-Based Individual Unemployment (TDIU) benefits are for veterans who cannot maintain or obtain gainful employment due to service-connected disabilities. Veterans who have survived mesothelioma may be eligible for these benefits if you are unable to work because of your condition. TDIU pays the same monthly amount as a 100% rating.
Mesothelioma is difficult to treat because doctors usually discover it only after it has advanced. Once diagnosed, the average survival time is 15 to 22 months.
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Spouses, children or surviving parents who lost a loved one to mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition can receive monthly DIC benefits, including a minimum payment of $1,562.74. The amount may increase depending on circumstances.
Survivors who file for DIC may receive monthly payments and reimbursement checks. If the veteran appeals the VA decision before his or her death, the survivor can continue to pursue the claim and even appeal again if the decision is not favorable.
“Sometimes, the effects of mesothelioma won’t show up for decades, which as you can imagine is why many veterans struggle to have a successful claim for VA benefits based on asbestos exposure,” Scott said. . “Some at the VA will say, ‘Well, you had it a long time ago, and now you have this condition. “We don’t think it’s related to her.”
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Woods and Woods fought and won in these types of cases. We’ve helped thousands of veterans get the VA benefits they deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation to see how we can help. If we accept your case, you will only pay if you win.
Yes, you can receive disability compensation from the VA for asbestos exposure if you were exposed to it during your military service and had a health problem as a result.
The compensation you receive for asbestos exposure depends on the health problem you were diagnosed with as a result of the exposure. It can be anywhere from zero to 100%.
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Read more about this topic: Disability Benefits for Veterans Asbestos Cancer Lung Disease Possible Conditions Disability Articles Toxic Exposure
Doctors often diagnose mesothelioma using imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and MRI scans. On examination, stage IV mesothelioma can easily be seen through lesions in or around the lungs. Since the lining of the lungs is usually the first to be affected, doctors may find any abnormalities before examining other organs in the body.
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By this time, the tumor has already spread to other areas of the body and symptoms are more severe. Stage IV usually has the worst prognosis, with a life expectancy of about one year. Treatment at this stage will mostly be palliative. Palliative care does not cure the patient but helps them better manage their symptoms in order to have a more comfortable end of life.
The type of mesothelioma you have depends on where the cancer is located. Cancer can be found in the chest, stomach, heart, and testicles, but it is most often found in the lungs. The life expectancy of a person with mesothelioma can vary greatly from one stage to the next. By the time a person reaches stage 4, there are minimal treatment options and normal life expectancy is low.
After receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, your doctor should discuss what form you have. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this cancer. Affected areas include the lungs and the pleura or lining of the chest. A person with stage IV pleural mesothelioma has spread. The cancer has spread from the initial site of infection and spread to other areas and organs.
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Three staging systems can be used for pleural mesothelioma
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