VA Benefits for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It develops in the tissues surrounding the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles. People who suffer from mesothelioma may be asymptomatic for years or even decades. It’s not uncommon for symptoms to become apparent 20 or even 40 years after asbestos exposure.

Key Takeaways
  • Mesothelioma, a serious cancer linked to asbestos exposure, often manifests decades after exposure, with military veterans, particularly those who served before 1980, being at high risk due to asbestos use in military equipment and facilities.
  • The VA provides a 100% disability rating for mesothelioma, recognizing its severe impact, and offers substantial compensation, including additional benefits for dependents.
  • Veterans can file for VA disability claims for mesothelioma without initial evidence, but documentation like medical records and a nexus letter linking the condition to military service can expedite the process.

Military veterans are at high risk of developing mesothelioma, especially those who served in the years before 1980. Every branch of the U.S. military used asbestos for different purposes, including in housing, vessels, pipes, and shipyards. Therefore, any veteran could develop the illness, regardless of their job function. Veterans Guide explains how you may qualify for VA disability for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma and Veterans

Virtually any service member may have been exposed to asbestos during their service. The military relied on many asbestos-containing materials for different purposes because of their heat-resistant and insulating properties. 


Asbestos-containing materials were used extensively in shipyards and Navy vessels, especially those built before the mid-1970s. The ships contained asbestos products and components in the engine and boiler rooms, as well as areas below deck. Any sailor who served on older vessels or whose work involved repairing and maintaining structures and equipment containing asbestos may be at risk of mesothelioma from their time in the Navy


Mesothelioma in the Marines likely stems from the frequent travel on ships and aircraft containing asbestos materials. The military bases they worked and lived on may have used insulation and other substances containing asbestos, increasing their risk of exposure. 


The Army used asbestos materials in the construction of bases and barracks worldwide. Asbestos could be found in drywall, insulation, plumbing systems, and piping. Veterans who worked or lived on Army bases may have inhaled asbestos fibers, both at work and in their barracks. 

Air Force

Like the Marines and Army, the Air Force used asbestos throughout its military bases. Aircraft also contained asbestos in its piping, insulation, and electrical wiring. Air Force veterans may have inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers throughout their daily duties. 

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard used asbestos heavily in their vessels, like in their boiler and engine rooms. Asbestos was also used in ships’ piping, electrical wiring, paint, and insulation. Asbestos could also be found in Coast Guard shipyards and bases. 

Exposed to Asbestos in the Military?

Asbestos Exposure VA Disability Compensation

The VA assigns a disability rating for asbestos exposure based on the severity of your illness. A higher rating will increase the VA compensation you receive.

Mesothelioma VA Rating

The VA disability rating for mesothelioma is 100 percent. Veterans who qualify may receive $3,737.85 monthly in disability compensation. You can receive additional compensation if you have a spouse or children. As with other VA disabilities, you have to show that your connection is connected to your time in the service, and have proper documentation.

Asbestosis VA Rating

The VA assigns a disability rating for asbestosis on a scale of 10 to 100 percent. The general rating formula used to evaluate the severity of disease and compensation rates relies on testing.

Two tests are used to rate lung disease: forced vital capacity, or FVC, and the diffusion capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide by a single breath, or DLCO-SB. 

An FVC test evaluates lung function using a tube that you breathe and exhale into. Measured in percentages, the higher your result, the better your lung function. A DLCO-SB test measures how well your lungs move oxygen into your blood. Like FVC, the higher the percentage of your result, the better your lungs’ performance.

In some cases, doctors may also evaluate your V02 max, or oxygen uptake. However, to qualify for VA disability benefits using V02 max, you must have other limitations, such as pulmonary hypertension. 

The VA rates asbestosis as follows:

VA Disability for Mesothelioma RatingTest ResultsBase VA Benefits for Mesothelioma, not including dependents or spouse
10 percentFVC of 75 to 80 percent predicted or DLCO-SB of 66 to 80 percent predicted$171.23
30 percentFVC of 65 to 74 percent predicted or DLCO-SB of 56 to 65 percent predicted$524.31
60 percentFVC of 50 to 64 percent predicted or DLCO-SB of 40 to 55 percent predicted or maximum exercise capacity of 15 to 20 mL/kg/min oxygen consumption with respiratory limitation$1,361.88
100 percentFVC less than 50 percent predicted or DLCO-SB less than 40 percent predicted or maximum exercise capacity less than 15 mL/kg/min oxygen consumption with respiratory limitation or pulmonary hypertension or requires oxygen therapy$3,737.85

Lung Cancer VA Rating

Sometimes, asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer. Generally, the VA provides a 100 percent disability rating for active, malignant lung cancer. However, the VA will reassess the 100 percent rating six months after cessation of any treatments, including chemotherapy and surgery. A change in your condition may reduce your disability rating. Veterans with a 100 percent VA disability rating for lung cancer can receive $3,737.85 in monthly compensation. The VA may increase your benefits if you have dependents or a spouse. 

Pleural Plaques VA Rating

Pleural plaques sometimes develop from asbestos exposure. They cause thickening of the parietal pleura and can impact lung function. The VA assigns a disability rating for pleural plaques based on breathing tests. The current rating schedule and corresponding test results are as follows: 

VA Disability RatingTest ResultsBase VA Disability Compensation (no dependents or spouse)
10 percentFVC of 75 to 80 percent predicted, or DLCO (SB) of 66 percent to 80 percent predicted$171.23
30 percentFVC of 65 74 percent predicted or DLCO (SB) of 56 percent to 65 percent predicted$524.31
60 percentFVC of 50 percent to 64 percent predicted, or DLCO (SB) of 40 percent to 55 percent predicted or maximum exercise capacity of 15 to 20 mL/kg/min oxygen consumption with respiratory limitation$1,361.88
100 percentFVC less than 50 percent predicted or DLCO (SB) less than 40 percent predicted or maximum exercise capacity less than 15 mL/kg/min oxygen consumption with respiratory limitation or pulmonary hypertension or requires oxygen therapy$3,737.85

How To File a Mesothelioma or Asbestos Exposure VA Claim

In some cases, you may need to prove your mesothelioma resulted from asbestos exposure during your military service. However, the VA presumes an automatic service connection for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses for veterans who meet certain service requirements. The PACT Act expanded the list of presumptive conditions to include respiratory cancer of any type, as well as interstitial lung disease and pleuritis. To qualify, veterans must have served in certain locations during the Gulf War, post-9/11 wars, or the Vietnam era. 

Steps To File a VA Disability for Mesothelioma Claim

The claims process has several steps.

1. Gather Your Documentation

While the VA doesn’t require veterans to submit evidence with their initial claim, it can expedite the process. Records documenting your medical diagnosis and military service assist the VA in reviewing your case. You can also ask your doctor to provide a written statement, often called a nexus letter, indicating your condition relates directly to asbestos exposure during your military service. 

2. Complete VA Form 21-526EZ

Next, fill out an Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, VA Form 21-526EZ. You can complete the form online through the VA portal, mail it to the Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Intake Center, or submit it at your local regional VA office. 

3. Wait for a Response From the VA

Once the VA receives your claim, the review process will begin. If the VA has questions concerning your claim, it may request additional information. Otherwise, you will receive a decision in the mail. 

Other VA Benefits for Mesothelioma

As a veteran with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions, you may be eligible for additional benefits.

VA Pension

The Veterans Pension program provides monthly compensation to qualifying veterans. The amount of your pension varies based on your annual family income and net worth. The maximum VA pension for an individual with no dependents in 2024 is $16,551. However, your VA pension rate may increase if you qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. 

Aid and Attendance

VA pension recipients may also qualify for Aid and Attendance if they need assistance performing basic living activities, like bathing and dressing, or are bedbound or in a nursing home. 

Housebound Benefits

If your mesothelioma or asbestos-related illness causes you to spend most of your time at home, you may qualify for housebound benefits. Veterans may only receive Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits, not both. 

Health Care Priority Group 1

Veterans with a mesothelioma diagnosis may qualify for Health Care Priority Group 1, which offers free or low-cost outpatient and inpatient care with VA medical providers. 


Your spouse and children may qualify for health care through the CHAMPVA program. The CHAMPVA program covers most medical services, including hospitalization, outpatient treatments, surgery, and family planning. 

Connect With Veterans Guide

If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, there may be other compensation possibilities available. Veterans Guide can connect you with seasoned attorneys experienced in representing clients in mesothelioma claims. You may be entitled to file a claim against the manufacturers and distributors of asbestos-containing materials. An attorney may be able to help you obtain additional compensation for your losses—often more than $1 million. To learn more, reach out to Veterans Guide today.

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