The VA has extended the deadline to receive disability benefits for Persian Gulf War Veterans with certain presumptive conditions. The deadline was previously set to expire on December 31, 2016, but has been extended to December 31, 2021.
This means that Gulf War Veterans who have qualifying medically unexplained illnesses will receive presumptive service-connection if their symptoms began anytime between the beginning of their active duty service in the Southwest Asia Theater of military operations and December 31, 2021. Veterans who have not yet experienced symptoms and veterans who have experienced symptoms, but have not yet documented their symptoms with a medical provider, will both benefit from this extension.
Conditions that Qualify For Presumptive Status
The VA has previously granted presumptive service-connection for medically unexplained illnesses among Gulf War Veterans. These conditions have been collectively referred to as “Gulf War Syndrome”, but they are actually not a single condition because symptoms can vary widely.
Two groups of conditions qualify as medically unexplained illnesses among Gulf War Veterans. The first category includes undiagnosed illnesses, which are indicated by a cluster of chronic symptoms, but do not fit into any known medical diagnosis. Common symptoms are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, memory problems, and sleep disorders. Other symptoms may be present as well.
The second category of conditions involves a known diagnosis, but an unknown cause of the condition. Conditions that fit into this category include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome.
To receive compensation, a Gulf War Veteran must have experienced symptoms for at least six months, and the symptoms must be at least 10 percent disabling.
Benefits should be awarded for these conditions without regard to their cause. The VA sometimes mistakenly denies these claims because evidence of a specific event or injury causing the disability has not been provided. If your claim for a medically unexplained illness has been denied for this reason, you should consider appealing your claim denial.
A wide variety of symptoms can qualify a Gulf War Veteran for presumptive service-connection, so veterans who are experiencing unexplained medical issues shouldfile a claim for benefits or consult with a veterans attorney.
If you have questions about whether you can claim disability benefits due to a medically unexplained illness, contact the veterans attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for a free case evaluation. If you have previously been denied, or you are applying for the first time, we can make sure you understand your rights as a veteran.