What are Veteran's Compensation Benefits?
Veteran's Compensation Benefits are intended to compensate veterans who have a medical or psychological condition that is connected to their military service. This can include asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer.
The law firm of Gori Julian & Associates, P.C. has handled thousands of asbestos-related cases, including hundreds of veterans of the U.S. armed forces who were exposed to asbestos decades ago in service of their country.
Qualifying for VA medical benefits can be confusing and complicated. We know that people with asbestos disease need prompt treatment and cannot afford delays or denial of coverage. We can help clients fill out the forms to expedite the process and avoid or surmount any bureaucratic red tape. Our goal is to get your loved one qualified for Veteran's Compensation Benefits as quickly as possible.
Qualifying for VA Disability Compensation Benefits
In general, three elements are necessary to prove a case:
- A current medical or psychological condition (asbestos cancer or asbestosis)
- An event or condition that occurred during military service (service aboard a Navy vesse l or at a naval base or shipyard or other military base)
- A causal connection between the current condition and the event or condition during military service (exposure to asbestos)
Our legal team works with mesothelioma victims and their family members to research and detail military duty stations and known exposures to asbestos-containing materials. We are very familiar with the Veterans Administration (VA) claims process and documentation required to support these claims.
Steps in Processing a Claim
Step 1: You File Your Claim
The disability claim process begins when you file a claim. If you have never filed a VA disability claim, you will need to complete and submit a VA Form 21-526 (Veteran's Application for Compensation or Pension). Download this form using the link above or at the VA web site.
Step 2: The VA Obtains Evidence
(this step takes 1-4 months)
Based on the disability claim you submit, the VA begins compiling evidence to support your claim. Thus, any evidence that you are able to secure beforehand and submit with your claim will expedite this step.
Step 3: You Are Examined at a VA Hospital
(this step takes 1-3 months)
The VA will often request exams while waiting for other evidence to arrive.
Step 4: Complete Record is Rated
(this step takes 2-3 months)
As evidence is received; VA places the records in your claims folder. When the VA has all the necessary evidence, your claim is ready to be rated.
Step 5: A Decision is Made
(this step takes 1-3 weeks)
After the rating is completed, you will be notified promptly of the decision. The VA will provide you with the reasons for all decisions to grant or deny benefits. If you do not agree with the VA's decision, you have the right to appeal.
What can I do to help...?
1. Be as thorough as possible in completing your claim application.
2. If you are scheduled for a medical exam, please keep your appointment. If you are unable to keep your appointment (for whatever reason), please contact the VA Medical Center where you were scheduled to report as soon as possible.
What Causes Delays?
The time it takes to process a claim. The VA needs to get the information needed to make a decision; this includes medical records, verification of honorable discharges, copies of certificates, etc. Claims with records from several sources take longer to get records than others.
If you are not happy with the result of your claim, please contact our office to hear about your appeal options.
National Personnel Records Center
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), located in St. Louis, MO, is the main center for a military person's records. Depending on the branch and years of service, the VA will make a request for records to NPRC. On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at NPRC (MPR) destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. This fire affected a large number of Army and Air Force records. For more details or for help in determining if your records were among the lost, please contact our office.
In order to make communications as clear as possible, we'd like to define some VA terms:
- Compensation: The benefit paid to veterans whose disabilities arose from service. The disabilities themselves are often referred to as Service Connected or "S/C".
- Disability: For VA purposes you must have a medical condition that is severe enough to meet specific requirements for that condition.
- Pension: The benefit paid to veterans whose disabilities are not related to service and who have a financial hardship. The disabilities themselves are often referred to as Non-Service Connected or "NSC".
- Rating Schedule: The guide the VA uses to determine which disabilities they can pay for and the percent to which they are disabling.
- Claim Number: How the VA monitors and identifies your claim. Any letters you receive from the VA should have the claim number in the upper right hand corner. The letters "C", "XC", "CSS" or "XSS" will precede your claim number. It is very important that you have this number available whenever you contact the VA.
Statewide Illinois and Nationwide Legal Assistance
for Former Veterans With Asbestos-Related Disease
St. Louis area: 618-307-4085/Toll free in the U.S.: 888-362-6890
For a free legal evaluation, please call Gori Julian & Associates, P.C., at the numbers above or contact us online.