Can I Get Disability Benefits for an Unexplained Illness?

Can I Get Disability Benefits for an Unexplained Illness?

Presumptive service connection has been established for certain medically unexplained illnesses and chronic multi-symptom illnesses among Gulf War Veterans. Around a third of all Gulf War Veterans are estimated to have one of these conditions.

All veterans can apply for disability compensation from the VA, but Gulf War Veterans are eligible for certain presumptions, which means they do not have to prove that their disabilities are due to service. 

Qualifications for Presumptive Service Connection

To qualify for presumptive service connection, a veteran must have served on active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of operations at any time from August 2, 1990 to the present. The symptoms must have appeared either during active duty or after service but before December 31, 2021. The symptoms must also have persisted for 6 months or more, and have a severity of at least 10% disabling..

Qualifying illnesses must be either an undiagnosed illness or a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness (CMI).  CMIs have no known medical cause, and may include symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, respiratory problems, neurologic issues, and many other symptoms. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and some functional gastrointestinal disorders all qualify as unexplained illnesses. Undiagnosed illnesses are conditions that involve a cluster of symptoms with no definitive diagnosis.

However, the presumption of service connection can also be rebutted. If it is shown that your condition was not actually caused by your military service, you may not be entitled to the presumption of service connection. 

Because unexplained illnesses have no known cause, and sometimes no definitive diagnosis, it is difficult to know for sure if you will qualify under the VA’s criteria. If you have any unexplained or undiagnosed symptoms, you should consider applying for disability benefits.

Many unexplained illnesses do not easily fit into the VA’s rating categories, so your disability rating will be assigned based on analogy. The VA will find a known condition that closely resembles the type and severity of your symptoms, and assign you the rating for the similar condition.

Determining whether you have a qualifying illness can be challenging. Receiving the correct rating for your condition can also be difficult. Consult with a veterans attorney if you would like professional assistance with your case.

If you served during the Persian Gulf War or in the Southwest Theatre of Operations and are experiencing health issues as a result of your service, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for help with your claim or appeal. Our veterans law practitioners have over 25 years of experience assisting veterans. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation.

Category: Veterans Law