Gulf War Diseases and Disabilities

Many Gulf War veterans suffer from diseases and disabilities as a result of their service.  These veterans can apply for and receive disability compensation benefits if they can demonstrate that their disabilities are service-connected.  Sometimes this is difficult to do, but certain Gulf War diseases and disabilities are easier to prove because of a presumption established by VA.

What Gulf War diseases are easier to prove?

VA has established a presumption in favor of Gulf War veterans who suffer from the following conditions:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Dyspepsia
    • Functional abdominal pain syndrome
  • Undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms that may include but are not limited to abnormal weight loss, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headache, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems, skin conditions, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances.

A review of these disabilities shows that a wide range of medical problems may be covered by the Gulf War presumption.  In addition to the specific diseases mentioned, the “undiagnosed illnesses” condition covers a wide range of symptoms including cardiovascular, muscular, neurological, psychological, and respiratory conditions among others.

Is the Gulf War presumption the same as the Agent Orange presumption for Vietnam veterans?

No. This presumption is somewhat different than the Agent Orange presumption. The Gulf War presumption does require VA to presume that the conditions mentioned above were caused by the veteran’s military service. However, the Gulf War presumption is different because there are time limits on when the diseases and/or symptoms must appear. To qualify for the Gulf War presumption, the veteran must have served in the Southeast Asia theater of military operations sometime after August 2, 1990.  Also, the illnesses must have appeared either during active duty or by December 31, 2016.  Finally, the illnesses must be at least 10% disabling.

This presumption is different than the Agent Orange presumption because the Agent Orange presumption has no time limit for when the diseases must appear.  Even though the Gulf War presumption has time limits, it is still extremely beneficial to veterans.  A veteran who meets the presumptions requirements should have a much greater chance of establishing that his or her disability is service connected.

Is there anything else to do if I have already filed for benefits?

If VA denies your claim for any reason, you should certainly consider filing a notice of disagreement.  Even if VA determines that your disability is service connected, VA may give you too low a rating or the incorrect effective date for benefits.  If you need help filing a claim or an appeal or have any other questions, many people find it helpful to have a free consultation with one of our veterans disability attorneys.  You can set one up by completing the “Free Consultation” form – or you can just call the phone number on the bottom of this page.

Gulf War Diseases and Disabilities

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

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