Options for armed forces patients

Benefits and compensation

Mesothelioma is considered an industrial disease resulting in potential benefit and compensation entitlements not relevant in other cancers. You should not be put off if you have not claimed benefits before. You have a legal entitlement to some of these benefits, although potential payouts may differ based on your length of service.

For everyone affected by mesothelioma, the benefit and compensation claims process can feel overwhelming and challenging. For armed forces personnel and veterans, there is an added layer of options to consider and explore. The process was even more complex for armed forces personnel and veterans as the law initially protected the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from being sued for compensation for illness or injury caused before 1987.

Until December 2015, serving and former armed forces personnel who had been exposed to asbestos prior to 1987 were not entitled to seek redress from the MOD under the Crown Immunity indemnity. This policy highlighted the inequities between armed forces personnel and their civilian counterparts.

Following an active lobbying campaign by a partnership of organisations including the Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum and the Royal British Legion that Mesothelioma UK supported, the law was changed to grant armed forces personnel the ability to access either a tax-free lump sum or a traditional weekly War Pension. Attendance Allowances and Blue Badges can also be applied for.

Dual exposure

For those exposed to asbestos outside of any armed force service there are a number of civilian benefits, state and civil compensations options to consider. It is not unusual for an individual to have been exposed during their armed forces service and also outside of that whilst working in a civilian job. This is termed as ‘dual exposure’.

Dual exposure means the individual may be entitled to and therefore have to consider benefit and compensation options through both the armed forces (Veterans UK) and civilian routes.

Mesothelioma UK works very closely with Veterans UK. Veterans UK is the part of the Ministry of Defence responsible for providing assistance on many issues including benefits, housing and welfare. Veterans UK and Mesothelioma UK ensure individuals living with mesothelioma who are seeking benefit and compensation advice, receive personalised information focused on securing the most appropriate conclusion for their circumstances.

To find out more, please call the free Mesothelioma UK helpline on 0800 169 2409 or email info@mesothelioma.uk.com