Can Asbestos Exposure Qualify a Veteran’s Survivors for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation?
As mass tort attorneys, we at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban pursue justice for mesothelioma patients who were negligently exposed to asbestos in their workplace. But we are also loyal advocates for VA disability benefits. Occasionally, these two aspects of our practice align, and that is the case for veterans who were exposed to asbestos while in service and later developed mesothelioma. We’ve helped many such veterans access VA disability benefits. But what about the spouses and children who depend on those vets? You may qualify for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), and we want you to know how.
There are three ways that spouses and surviving children of service members can qualify for DIC:
- The veteran dies in active duty or military training.
- The death results from a service-related injury or illness.
- The veteran had a total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) rating for 10 years (or five years if the vet had been a prisoner of war).
A veteran’s mesothelioma caused by service-related asbestos exposure can qualify dependents for DIC.
The U.S. military used asbestos as insulation in naval vessels and armaments throughout the 20th century and continues to do so today. Service-related exposure to asbestos that leads to mesothelioma is a compensable illness. Unfortunately, mesothelioma has such a long latency period, anywhere from 20 to 50 years, so pinpointing the time and source of exposure can be problematic. Exposure to asbestos before or after military service can also cause mesothelioma, but then the disease would not be considered service related.
Surviving dependents must provide evidence to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to show the veteran had greater exposure to asbestos in the military than before or after service. A comprehensive exposure summary can be an important part of this evidence. An exposure summary provides detailed information about where, when and how a veteran was exposed to asbestos, and should include:
- A record of the veteran’s service, deployment and discharge
- A record of assigned duties
- A list of specific asbestos-containing materials or equipment the veteran had direct contact with
- Information about airborne asbestos particles the veteran inhaled or ingested
Armed with this information, a potential beneficiary can begin the process of applying for benefits. If you have any trouble along the way, our experienced VA benefits attorneys are ready to help.
Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban represents clients in personal injury cases throughout Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia, and helps veterans and their families access VA benefits across the country. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.