This Veteran served in the Navy during the Korean Conflict era and later developed asbestosis.
Result: 100% service connection for mesothelioma and back pay over $80,000.
This Veteran’s occupational specialty exposed him to asbestos. Decades later he developed asbestosis. He filed a service connection claim, which the VA eventually granted. But VA awarded 0 percent. He filed an appeal. During his appeal, his medical problems continued to increase. Chest x-rays began showing pleural effusion, and he was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma – a terminal lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Because his pulmonary function test results were not high enough for a 10 percent rating under the diagnostic code for asbestosis, the Board denied his claim.
This Veteran hired us to handle his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Upon review of his file we discovered that his pulmonary function test results were high enough for a compensable rating – meaning greater than 0 percent – if the VA had used the diagnostic codes for pleural effusion, which this Veteran had. We were able to successfully get his case remanded back to the Board.
At first, the Veteran thought he could handle the case at the Board on his own. But he eventually enlisted our help. We got to work in obtaining reports and records from his private pulmonologist and oncologist. His oncologist gave the opinion that the Veteran had mesothelioma linked to his Navy service. Further, we hired a private medical expert to also review the file and write an expert opinion. We filed additional arguments and evidence directly to the regional office. Despite the Veteran’s age, the regional office sat on the case for a very long time. The Veteran continued to call us wondering the status of the case. We contacted VA but received the usual runaround. Eventually, the regional office made a decision and awarded 100 percent service connection for the mesothelioma. The Veteran received a back pay check in excess of $80,000.