Posted on 27th September, 2019
Many veterans exposed to asbestos during their active duty are now struggling with asbestos-related diseases. Living with the medical repercussions of asbestos exposure is both painful and costly. Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses should know that these conditions are compensable.
Asbestos Trust Funds Claims
In an effort to escape their massive legal liabilities, many companies that used asbestos in their products and who have exposed their employees to exposure risks felt they had no alternative but to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The U.S Congress requires asbestos companies that file for bankruptcy to put aside money in special trust funds, in order to ensure victims with the financial compensation they deserve. It is important to note that the trust funds are set up on behalf of asbestos companies, not by the companies. Decisions are made by a fund trustee, which is independent and objective and weighs evidence while following a set of guidelines in order to come to a resolution on each individual claim.
In order to file a claim with a trust, you have to prove that you were exposed at a particular worksite or that exposure resulted from a particular product. Trusts may also require claimants to meet certain medical criteria to file claims.
VA Disability Claim
Because of the extensive use of asbestos throughout all branches of the U.S. Military, veterans account for 30 percent of the estimated 3,000 mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year, and 10,000 annual deaths from all asbestos-related illnesses, as stated the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Veterans of the U.S. may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, including VA disability compensation and VA health care. There are three general criteria that would make every soldier, sailor or airman while they served in the military eligible for VA disability benefits, and these include service records, performance records, and medical records. The VA will want to know if records demonstrate exposure to asbestos in the military and this can be done through an exposure summary, which is a history of military job rating, discharge status, and civilian work history.
Differences between an Asbestos Trust Claim and a VA Claim
For a VA disability claim, the VA requires specific evidence of actual contact with the toxic mineral that occurred while in service. For example, in the case of a plumber who worked on the pipes of the vessel, to be considered asbestos-exposed, the plumber has to show that during his daily duties, he actually maneuvered the pipes, took care of their maintenance and repair. It is very well known that asbestos was intensively used to insulate heating pipes, so normal activities or repair work caused asbestos fibers to become airborne, exposing workers in the area to toxic dust.
The asbestos trust does not require such a rigorous burden of proof. Working in a building, ship, or aircraft that contained asbestos, is considered sufficient to file.
If awarded, the VA pays a monthly compensation amount. Conversely, the trust pays out a one-time compensation based on the claim and the diagnosis of the complainant. While there is no statute of limitations to apply for veterans disability compensation or other VA benefits, asbestos trust funds claims must be submitted within a certain period of time in order to be approved by the board of trustees. Another difference between a VA claim and an asbestos trust claim is that the family members of those who worked with asbestos are also eligible to file a claim against the trust if they have developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of secondary exposure.
If you got an asbestos-related diagnostic and a history of military asbestos exposure, we can help you get access to compensation through both asbestos trust funds and VA benefits.