Unlike other disabilities related to military service, undiagnosed illnesses and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses (CMIs) do not have a defined set of symptoms. The symptoms of CMI can vary from person to person, making a standardized diagnosis and treatment difficult.
About one-third of the veterans of the 1991 Gulf War are estimated to have CMIs. The Institute of Medicine defines a CMI as the presence of at least two of six categories of symptoms, including fatigue, mood and cognition, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurologic symptoms.
Gulf War Service and Chronic Multi-Symptom Illnesses
Due to the prevalence of CMI in Gulf War Veterans, the VA has established a presumptive service connection for certain disabilities among this group of veterans. Those that qualify will not need to provide proof that their disability is connected to their military service in order to receive VA disability compensation.
“Gulf War service” includes active duty service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations after August 2, 1990. The symptoms must last for 6 months of more, and they must have appeared either during active duty or after service but before December 31, 2021.
Do You Have a Chronic Multi-Symptom Illness?
It can be difficult to determine if you have a CMI due to the lack of a defined set of symptoms. Both CMIs and undiagnosed illnesses qualify for presumptive service connection for VA purposes.
Amedically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness is a diagnosed condition without a known cause or without a clear diagnosis. . Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and various functional gastrointestinal disorders qualify as CMIs. For VA disability compensation purposes, diseases such as diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis do not qualify as CMIs.
An undiagnosed illness constitutes a cluster of symptoms that by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be attributed to any known clinical diagnosis. This can include a wide variety of symptoms including fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, neurological symptoms, and many others.
Determining whether your illness will qualify as a CMI under VA regulations can be difficult, so ask a veterans attorney with extensive knowledge of the VA’s regulations whether your symptoms may qualify. There is no exhaustive list of symptoms that qualify for CMI, but your illness must either have no known diagnosis, or be without a known etiology or pathophysiology. Inconsistent lab results are also a common attribute of CMI.
Because CMIs are not clearly defined, the VA will rate your disability by analogy. You will be assigned a disability rating based on the ratings of illnesses with similar symptoms or functional impairments.
If you served during the Gulf War and are experiencing health issues as a result of your service, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for help with your claim for benefits due to a chronic multi-symptom illness. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation