How to File a VA Disability Claim for Asbestos-Related Diseases
Veterans are commonly diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses because they have been exposed to this substance while they were serving in the military. The VA grants them some benefits for the health damages they suffer. Here are the necessary steps in claiming these rights.
Learn if you are eligible or notThe first condition you must meet in order to access the VA benefits refers to your discharge from the military service. Veterans who had a dishonorable discharge are not entitled to file a disability claim for an asbestos-related disease. If you were discharged under other conditions, you can bring a claim if there is a link between your exposure to asbestos and the period when you were in service, either on active duty or stationed.
Another requirement is to have served in the military full-time.
The VA will also take into account several other criteria such as the length of time during which you served in the military, the type of diagnosis you received or your income.
Also, since the VA receives claims constantly, they also have to consider their resources before determining the amount of compensation they can allocate.
Finally, these are the US military branches that qualify for the VA asbestos disability benefits: the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps. If you have been a member of one of these divisions or if you worked for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration or the Public Health Service as a commissioned officer, you can bring a claim.
Get help from an expertOnce you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related, disease, it's recommended that you reach out to someone who can help you get the legal procedure started. Veterans have the possibility to work with Claim Agents. These are certified people who are specialized in assisting veterans in bringing their claims. The VA accredits them, and they form various organizations that provide assistance and legal representation for veterans.
Their service is free, so there is no reason why you should avoid talking to one of them. Of course, you may also decide to file the claim with the VA on your own. But if you want to avoid any hurdles and delays, it's always easier to ask a claim agent to assist you.
Gather the necessary proofsTo prove you've got a viable asbestos claim, you need to provide two types of evidence: medical and work-related.
The first includes your diagnosis and other examination results that ascertain you suffer from an asbestos condition. The diagnosis has to be released by a certified specialist or medical institution. Once your case starts to be evaluated, the VA will submit your medical records for further analysis. Keep in mind that the mere fact of being exposed to asbestos is irrelevant unless you developed a correlated disease.
The second type of evidence aims to establish a connection between your disease and the timeframe when you served in the military. For this, you'll need to provide the proof of your military occupation specialty. The location where you were stationed can also be required.
The exposure evidence will be included in what is called an exposure summary.
File your claim and wait for the feedbackThe last step in accessing VA disability benefits is the actual filing. Once you submit your request, the VA will analyze your claim based on the evidence you provided and come back with a response. This process may take a while. We are talking about an average of seven months. The length of time depends on the state where you're submitting your request and how many claims the VA has to process during that period.
Whether the evaluation's result is positive or negative, you will receive a notification from the VA. If your claim is not accepted, you have the right to make an appeal. Please note that you can take this action within a year since the decision was received.
If the VA considers your case valid, you'll be awarded a disability compensation whose amount varies according to the severity of the disease. Other criteria like the number of family members you have to support are also important in determining the compensation's amount.