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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related lung cancer and illnesses qualify to apply for various financial and health benefits from Veterans Affairs.

Unfortunately, many veterans are unaware of these compensation programs and their options or do not know how to apply. Therefore, they do not file a VA claim for health benefits and financial compensation.

Were you diagnosed with mesothelioma by your doctor due to exposure to asbestos fibers and dust during your time in the Armed Forces? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for members of all military branches and can assist with VA claims and Mesothelioma lawsuits.

Call a Mesothelioma lawyer today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.


What Is Mesothelioma from Asbestos Exposure?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the protective lining around the lungs, heart, abdomen, and other organs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos products, including fibers and dust.

This exposure can come from many sources, including service in the military or working in an occupation with a high risk of asbestos exposure.

A mesothelioma diagnosis typically occurs after an individual experiences common symptoms, especially if they have a history of asbestos exposure.

Once diagnosed, there are several standard options for mesothelioma treatment, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery.

Veterans And Asbestos Exposure in Military Service

Although asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it has been mined and widely used in the United States since the late 19th century. The military extensively used asbestos in boilers and insulation for Navy ships, vehicles, and installations during World War II.

From 1930 to 1980, the prevalent use of asbestos throughout the military exposed thousands of armed force personnel. Many veterans who served in the Navy had a risk of asbestos exposure when they worked on boilers and insulation for ships.

In addition, these asbestos materials were often not removed from the ship until refurbished, resulting in ongoing exposure of service members to the mineral.

During World War II, many defense force members were exposed as the military used asbestos in insulators or with other asbestos products.

Veterans employed by companies that manufactured other asbestos products, such as gaskets, valves, and packing materials, also had a high risk of asbestos exposure.

However, not every Navy, Air Force, or military veteran employed with these companies is at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer.

About half of asbestos exposure in the military occurred while actively on duty.

Types Of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma manifests in pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular regions. Each one of these malignant mesotheliomas involves:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: Affects the lining of the lungs or pleura.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Affects the abdomen and the lining around abdominal organs like the stomach, pancreas, and bowels.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma: Affects the pericardium, the lining around the heart.
  • Testicular Mesothelioma: Affects the testicles.

Asbestos exposure can also lead to lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. For the veterans and asbestos exposure experienced during service, the price of service to their country is the high risk of developing an asbestos-related illness later in life.


Who Is at Risk For Mesothelioma?

Veterans are more likely than the public to be diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease. Many men and women serving in the armed forces had asbestos exposure.

For decades, the military relied on asbestos-based products on ships, Naval shipyards, Air Force, and military bases.

In addition, peacetime service members also experienced a high risk of asbestos exposure during training and exercises with equipment built from asbestos materials.

Mesothelioma veterans are at high risk due to the amount of asbestos they were exposed to during service in the military.

Navy veterans and veterans that worked in the Air Force, Marine Corps, or engine and boiler rooms, amongst others, with a service-related asbestos disease, can contact our Mesothelioma lawyers to determine if they qualify for Mesothelioma disability status and cancer treatment.

Mesothelioma And Asbestos Exposure: Why Veterans Are More Prone to Develop This Disease

For decades, the federal government was unaware of asbestos exposure on their Army basis, Naval shipyards, Coast Guard yards, and Navy ships.

As a result, many men and women in active service were exposed to substantial asbestos products and materials.

Veterans’ asbestos exposure remained hidden for years while the service members were unaware of the severe health risks associated with this mineral.

However, over 2 million veterans were exposed to asbestos during their service on Army bases, Navy ships, and other military installations.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimated that 75% of all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure.

It was not until the 1970s that the federal government passed laws restricting asbestos in manufacturing and production facilities.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

The symptoms of Mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath with little or no physical activity
  • Chest pain that worsens when breathing deeply
  • Coughing up blood
  • Throat and voice hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or moving some parts of the body

The main side effect associated with mesothelioma is shortness of breath. The severity will differ from patient to patient, as common treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can also affect lung function.

The most common types of mesothelioma treatment are also given for other cancers, impacting shortness of breath depending on the type of medication.

Veterans’ benefits are available to veterans who served during the above-mentioned periods and have experienced any symptoms. Veterans’ benefits are accessible through filing a claim with the VA.

Speak to the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757) to discuss filing a VA disability claim for an asbestos-related illness.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Process

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is not an easy task. Various diagnostic tools make the process even more complicated, as each tool provides different results.

Mesothelioma’s rarity and its long latency period (time between exposure and diagnosis) could lead to misdiagnosis or delay in appropriate treatment.

Many mesothelioma specialists will use the best diagnostic tools to determine the target type of cancer, which can be done through various healthcare systems and centers such as the VA Boston Healthcare System.

The most common diagnostic tools for mesothelioma include:

  • Chest x-rays
  • Abdominal CT scans or CAT scans
  • Breathing tests
  • Spirometry tests

The initial diagnosis is usually made with a physical exam and a patient’s medical history review.

Blood tests also determine tumor markers, including elevated carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 15-3 (CA15-3) levels.

Scans And X-rays Diagnostic Tools

A chest x-ray is the first imaging study used to diagnose mesothelioma. However, this cannot be confirmed until a biopsy is performed, which involves taking a tissue sample from the lung and chest wall. Patients can request an open or closed biopsy, as both produce similar results.

An open biopsy is performed by making a small incision in the chest wall and inserting an instrument to cut out part of the tumor.

Closed biopsies are done through a “needle” or “trocar” biopsy, which involves using needles to remove abnormal tissue.

Computed tomography [1] (CT) scans are then used to examine the tumor’s extent and diagnose it. A PET/CT scan may also be used, especially if mesothelioma has metastasized (spread) to other body areas.

These are all necessary tools used by doctors to diagnose mesothelioma. However, despite our technology’s advances, misdiagnosis still exists due to the rarity of mesothelioma cases.


Mesothelioma Diagnosis Required for Compensation

Doctors must diagnose mesothelioma veterans with their asbestos-related diseases before they can submit a VA claim and receive disability compensation benefits.

The monetary compensation veterans with Mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases can receive through a VA disability compensation claim does not hinder the amount of money they receive each month through their VA pension.

Numerous VA health care hospitals around the nation have a comprehensive Mesothelioma program and specialize in accurately diagnosing Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

Healthcare Systems and Centers

Centers and systems offering Mesothelioma treatment and diagnosis to veterans with VA claims include:

  • Systems:
    • Boston VA Health Care
    • Connecticut VA Health care
  • Centers:
    • Edward Hines Jr., VA Hospital [2]
    • James J. Peters, VA Medical
    • Louis Stokes, Cleveland VA
    • West Los Angeles VA Medical

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases and is a veteran of service in the military, contact a VA-accredited claims agent at a VA health care center to help you file a VA claim for disability with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA Benefits and Disability Compensation For Mesothelioma

The VA considers malignant mesothelioma a total disability and can provide monthly financial assistance and medical care to veterans who develop it due to service in the military.

Also, the VA believes Mesothelioma cancer is service-connected [3] if the veteran was exposed to asbestos while serving on duty.

VA benefits and disability compensation is available through the US Department of Veterans Affairs under their VA health care system. The federal government also provides homebound benefits.

Veterans with mesothelioma who cannot leave home without assistance due to their disability or illness might be eligible for care and medical treatment at VA healthcare facilities throughout the United States.

Eligible veterans with mesothelioma can file a VA disability compensation claim to receive mesothelioma veterans’ benefits.

A VA-accredited claims agent will help you through the application process, and agents are located at all VA healthcare facilities.

Filing VA Claims for Veterans With Asbestos Exposure

The federal government is legally responsible for filing Veterans Affairs claims for veterans with Mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs is committed to providing veterans with Mesothelioma the following benefits:

  • Compensation in the form of payments for lost wages, medical treatment, and other costs
  • Monthly pension that provides a financial supplement to veterans who are permanently disabled from a service-related illness or injury
  • VA health care system
  • Free health care from VA hospitals and outpatient clinics
  • VA funeral & burial benefits

In addition to filing claims for veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, the VA is also responsible for filing claims for veterans experiencing symptoms with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Federal Government’s Responsibility to Veterans Exposed To Asbestos

Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy veterans with asbestos exposure were completely unaware of the health risks associated with this material. Veterans were exposed to asbestos fibers along with asbestos dust particles daily while working at military bases, including the shipyard, supply depot, flight line, engine, and boiler rooms.

Veterans diagnosed with service-related asbestos exposure leading to an asbestos-related disease developed during active duty remained unaware of the dangers.

As a result, Mesothelioma doctors might not recognize an asbestos-related disease until accurately diagnosed using the best tools and tests.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs offers financial assistance to veterans who cannot work due to asbestos-related diseases and cancer.

In addition, disabled veterans may be eligible for VA benefits in the form of supplementary income to ease the financial burden of providing for family members.

The federal government must assist veterans with Mesothelioma to apply for their VA benefits, including monthly compensation [4], as soon as possible.

How Does Service Impact Mesothelioma Claims?

Veterans filing VA claims for VA benefits due to Mesothelioma exposure must establish that their exposure caused this illness and that they were stationed at a military installation after 1970.

However, admission of asbestos exposure is not required to prove an asbestos injury claim for compensation benefits.

Mesothelioma has been linked to military asbestos exposure. Therefore, it may be possible for veterans with Mesothelioma who were in the Armed Forces to qualify for VA benefits and disability compensation by submitting VA claims.

If you or a loved one has served in the military and experiences health problems like shortness of breath, chest pain, or fatigue beyond typical everyday ailments, make an appointment with your doctor.

Claiming VA Disability Benefits

Veterans exposed to asbestos during military service may be eligible for VA benefits through the VA’s Environmental Health Center (EHC).

Veterans can file a VA claim for Mesothelioma exposure through the VA compensation program or a claim specifically for asbestos-related disease, provided they have been diagnosed with it.

Veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma should contact the VA directly to determine whether their claim will be addressed through the compensation program or an asbestos-only claim.

How The Department of Veterans Affairs Rates Asbestos Claims

The US Department of Veterans Affairs uses a disability rating system [5] that ranks the veteran’s disability level in 10% increments between 10% and 100%.

Thus, all veterans with mesothelioma diagnoses or other asbestos-related cancers and illnesses receive a compensation rate between 10% and 40%.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs uses the Mesothelioma Lung Cancer Scheme, the Federal Blue Book, and Compensation Benefits Rate Tables to determine how to rank a veteran’s disability claim.

Mesothelioma Monthly Compensation Program

According to this monthly compensation schedule, a veteran with Mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancer [6] will receive a special monthly compensation of $1,258.20 if they have a 50% disability rating and $2,123.90 with a 100% disability rating.

To receive financial compensation through the VA’s Disability Compensation Program, veterans must file a claim for monthly compensation.

There are several requirements before the VA can determine whether or not a veteran is eligible for VA benefits.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website, claims should include evidence of military service release forms, medical records or proof of military asbestos exposure during active duty, and an official report of separation from service.

Mesothelioma Diagnoses Approval Process

After a claim is filed, the US Department of Veterans Affairs must contact the veteran within one to four months of filing to schedule an in-person evaluation with a claim expert.

In this interview, the claims expert will ask the veteran several questions about their military service and medical history.

A team of experts will use this information to determine if the veteran qualifies for VA benefits and the rating they will be awarded if approved.

If a final determination is not made within one year of filing, veterans may request another review or receive an interim award.

Once the VA has decided on whether or not to approve benefits, it can take up to 10 months for approval. Those approved for disability benefits will receive the special monthly compensation on the first day of the month after approval.

Veterans who are found to be ineligible for benefits may appeal the decision through the VA communication system or file a new Mesothelioma VA claim for an asbestos-only-based disorder.

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (Survivors Pension)

If you are the survivor of a deceased veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos diseases, you may be eligible for special monthly compensation of VA benefits with Dependency and Indemnity compensation.

The benefit provides for surviving family members who can apply for up to 50% of the deceased’s benefit in addition to an extra allowance for unmarried dependents at home.

To apply for this Dependency and Indemnity compensation benefit (DIC) [7], you must file an asbestos-related VA claim for the deceased veteran and provide all medical evidence to prove that they were diagnosed with Mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease while serving in the military.


Hiring Personal Injury Lawyers to Resolve Asbestos Claims And Lawsuits

Veterans’ exposure to dangerous asbestos levels while serving in the military could receive special monthly compensation from employers responsible for damage through individual lawsuits.

In addition, the patient advocate team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC helps eligible veterans and service members in military branches access mesothelioma veterans’ benefits.

Were you diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma related to military service? Call our patient advocacy team today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your VA pension and VA disability claim.

Our attorneys accept all personal injury cases, Mesothelioma lawsuits, and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements.

This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

Resources: [1] RadiologyInfo, [2], [3], [4] VA,gov, [5], [6], [7]

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