Filing A Claim
The time limit in filing your federal claim depends on your state, but typically is within two years of your diagnosis. You can file a worker's compensation claim against the manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products to which you were exposed during your time in military service, as well as claim benefits from the VA to assist you through your treatment of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
Step 1: Complete VA Form 21-526
The first step in filing your VA claim is to complete and submit a VA Form 21-526, if you have never filed a prior claim. The VA Form 21-526 is your application for compensation or pension. You can request this form by phone or mail to have a copy sent to you. Once you complete your form, return it to the VA office. If you have any questions while completing your application, do not hesitate to contact us and we will assist you and provide clarification for any questions you may have. However, if you have applied in the past using this same form and were denied, you do not need to complete this form again. Instead, you need to provide a signed statement explaining why you would like to file your claim, as well as where you have been treated for the claimed condition.
Step 2: Review of Evidence
After your application has been submitted and reviewed, the VA will compile evidence that support your case. It would help expedite the process if you are able to submit evidence beforehand. The VA will then verify your service dates that you list on your application. Private medical records and records from the time of your service Will be requested and reviewed only after you submit your signed medical release. In this step of the process, it will be helpful if you are able to specifically list the dates of treatment. You Have 60 days until the process is expired.
Step 3: Physical Examination at a VA Hospital
While the evidence in your file is being reviewed, they may request that you have a physical examination at one of their VA medical centers. Not all claims will have a request for an examination and whether or not your case will require one is dependent on your type of claim. Any requests for your appearance at a VA hospital for an examination will be done by mail. A report of your exam will then be provided to the VA office that is processing your application and added to the list of evidence for your claim.
Step 4: They Rate Your File
As evidence is being compiled in your file, your claim will then be rated. The VA will take approximately 2 to 3 months before rating your file due to the high number of files that were submitted before your claim. Your medical evidence and other documents that you have submitted as evidence will be reviewed. If they can identify your claimed conditions to correspond with the evidence, your file will then be rated. Your file's rating will determine the schedule in which your disability is designated. This designation will determine if you get paid and how much, based on laws passed by Congress. The VA will consider all evidence in your file and will pay the maximum benefit allowed by law.
Step 5: Decision
Shortly after a rating has been determined for your file, you will be notified
of the VA's decision promptly. The VA will outline to you all the reasons
why you were denied or granted benefits. If you find the decision made on
your file unsatisfactory, you can contact their offices to learn more about
their appeal process at 1-800-827-1000 or express any questions or concerns
in written format to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Service Center
500 Gold Ave., S.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87102
To begin your appeal for the denied claim, submit a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). The NOD is simply a statement that you disagree with the decision. It will also help in your appeals process to be able to make specific references to the issues upon which your denial was based. You have a year to file your NOD, and your file must have an official decision that included a VA Form 4107 for the appeals process.
DD 214 Report of Separation
As a veteran, having the DD 214 is vital when the VA is verifying your military service. Service verification takes place in the beginning of your claim process when you apply for your benefits, employment, membership or retirement in organizations for veterans. Your DD 214 may even be required by funeral homes in showing proof of military service in order to receive military honors and burial at a VA cemetery. If you lost your DD 214, or if you are the next of kin to a deceased veteran, you can request a copy at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/index.html or by U.S. mail. When requesting a copy of your DD 214, it is advised that you are able to provide the following:
- Complete name used during military service
- Service number
- Social Security number
- Dates of service
- Date and place of birth
If you need assistance in requesting a copy of your DD 214, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will guide you through the process.