Congress has granted an estimated 200,000 Gulf War veterans affected by Gulf War Syndrome more time to file presumptive disability claims for benefits. VA has extended the cutoff date five more years, now set at December 31, 2026.
What Are VA Presumptive Conditions For The Gulf War?
Medical and scientific studies show that certain chronic health problems are highly associated with service in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Many of these are unexplained or the cause has not yet been defined. VA has listed the following conditions as presumptive for Gulf War service connection:
- Abnormal weight loss
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic joint and muscle pain
- Gastrointestinal disorders (including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain syndrome, dyspepsia)
- Memory problems
- Menstrual problems
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis
- Neurological disorders
- Psychological disorders
- Respiratory disorders
- Skin conditions
- Sleep disorders / insomnia
To qualify as an illness or symptom on the VA’s Gulf War presumptive list, the illness or symptom must be chronic (lasting no less than six months). In addition, the illness or symptoms must have started during service in Southwest Asia between August 1990 to the present, OR the VA must have diagnosed the illness or symptoms as at least a 10% disabling sometime after service.
How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome?
VA automatically presumes that Gulf War veterans who develop one or more of the listed conditions as service connected for that disability, no need to prove that a certain service event caused the health problem. But unlike non-presumptive health conditions, presumptive conditions often come with a filing deadline.
Originally, veterans with Gulf War syndrome were only able to file a presumptive claim through December 31, 2021. After that, veterans with these conditions could still file a claim for benefits but would have to go through the non-presumptive system – gathering service records, medical nexus opinions, witness statements, and other evidence to prove that their time in service led to their disease.
But more and more Gulf War veterans are coming forward exhibiting chronic health problems, and like those veterans exposed to Agent Orange, it can take years to determine the health problems caused by certain toxins, and many illnesses caused by toxin exposure can take years to exhibit symptoms.
In September, VA explained it was extending the presumptive period because medical evidence still hasn’t been able to conclude how long it takes to develop symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome – and they are still debating an exact date for the end of the Gulf War.
The five-year extension applies for veterans who served in the Gulf War, suffer from a diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic disease or symptom on the VA’s presumptive list that is rated at least 10% due to undiagnosed illness.
Gulf War veterans experiencing the illnesses or symptoms on the VA’s Gulf War presumptive list listed above should file a claim now. Even the presumptive claims process can be long. Those who are suffering from conditions or other unexplained medical problems that are not on the VA’s presumptive list can still win VA benefits for their disability by getting a medical nexus letter and preparing persuasive VA benefits claim.