Proving military asbestos exposure can be a tricky task, as symptoms from asbestos-related diseases tend to take years to appear. If you are trying to file a veteran’s disability claim for a disease related to asbestos exposure, you are going to have to write up an asbestos exposure summary. An asbestos exposure summary provides detailed information about where, when, and how you were exposed to asbestos in the line of duty.
In order to be eligible for disability benefits from the VA, an applicant must be able to show that at least 50% of their asbestos exposure came in the line of duty. Failure to do this will result in denial of the application. The ruling will be that the cause of the disease was civilian asbestos exposure and is not military-related.
What Are the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos exposure can lead to many health problems, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is scarring and inflammation of the lungs caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. Symptoms of asbestosis include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. In severe cases, asbestosis can lead to pulmonary heart disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an incredibly vicious form of cancer caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour that forms in the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The life expectancy for most people diagnosed with this illness is about a year.
You can sue for mesothelioma if you were exposed to asbestos as part of your military duty. Generally, however, you will be suing the company that created the products to which you were exposed, that contained asbestos, rather than suing the military itself.
What Is an Asbestos Exposure Summary?
An asbestos exposure summary is a detailed report of both your time in and out of the military. The summary documents any instances in which you did or may have, come in contact with asbestos.
When creating an asbestos exposure summary, an applicant should write it with the assumption that the VA officer who reviews the summary, does not know anything about asbestos products, or the duties of a member of the military, that may bring them into contact with these products.
An asbestos exposure summary should be exceedingly detailed. It should include information about what branch of the military the veteran was a part of, along with locations of all of the bases or ships to which they were assigned. The report should also contain any locations to which they were deployed. Every assignment should be accurately dated.
The summary should also include the duties of the veteran while in service and a detailed list of any and all asbestos-containing materials that the veteran lived and worked around. Any duties that the veteran performed that brought them into contact with asbestos dust should be noted. The summary should also record whether or not the veteran received asbestos safety training and protective gear.
Beyond details about military service, the asbestos exposure summary should contain information about all other jobs that the veteran had outside of the military, as well as any asbestos exposure the veteran may have faced in their everyday life.
The asbestos exposure summary should include information about the disease the veteran is suffering from, such as when, where, and who diagnosed their illness. It should also list what treatments they have received concerning their diagnosis.
What Else Is Needed to File an Asbestos VA Claim?
In addition to the asbestos exposure summary, a veteran will need several other documents to file a disability claim with the VA. Other required documents are:
- Application for disability compensation (or dependency indemnity compensation in cases of a family member filing in relation to a deceased veteran).
- Medical records related to asbestos illness.
- Medical nexus letter, written by a doctor stating that the veteran’s illness is related to asbestos exposure.
- Military discharge paperwork.
- Marriage and divorce documents (if applicable).
When filing a claim for disability with the VA, you might want to consider consulting with a VA-accredited claims agent who has experience with asbestos-related diseases. A claims agent can help to ensure all of your paperwork is in order and that your asbestos exposure summary is sufficiently thorough. A claims agent can also help with an appeal if your original application gets denied.
When it comes to a disability claim with the VA, it is important to be thorough, as delay in receipt of benefits can lead to a growing pile of unpaid medical bills.