MENU

Is Gulf War Syndrome a Disability?

Yes, Gulf War Syndrome is a disability for which you may be entitled to disability compensation.

More About Gulf War Syndrome

Gulf War Syndrome is a grouping of symptoms that cannot be explained medically. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prefers to call it “chronic multisymptom illness” or “undiagnosed illness” because the symptoms vary so much.

Symptoms Associated with Gulf War Service

There are several symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, some of them include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Neuropsychological problems
  • Joint pain and muscle pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Getting Veterans’ Disability Benefits for Your Gulf War Syndrome

To obtain disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome, you need to prove your diagnosis is related to your military service (i.e., service connection). However, if you meet certain criteria, you do not need to provide a nexus opinion. VA will do it for you. This is known as “presumptive service connection.” The criteria for presumptive service connections are as follows for Gulf War-related conditions:

  • No other explanation (the term medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness is defined by the VA to mean a diagnosed illness without conclusive pathology or etiology, that is characterized by overlapping symptoms and signs which have features such as fatigue, pain, disability out of proportion to physical findings, and inconsistent demonstration of laboratory abnormalities.
  • Your condition/disability has lasted for at least six months
  • Your condition either appeared during active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of operations or to a degree of 10% or more by December 31, 2021

Presumptive illnesses include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (severe, chronic fatigue that does not result from another condition and is not relieved by rest)
  • Fibromyalgia (symptoms may include headaches, insomnia, memory problems, and morning stiffness)
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders (must have chronic or recurrent symptoms, disorders can consist of functional abdominal pain syndrome, functional dyspepsia, functional vomiting, functional constipation, functional bloating, functional dysphagia, and irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Undiagnosed illnesses and medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses that may include abnormal weight loss, cardiovascular problems, fatigue, headaches, joint and muscle pain, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems, respiratory problems, skin problems, and sleep disturbances
  • Infectious diseases (e.g., Malaria, Brucellosis, Campylobacter Jejuni, Coxiella Burnetti/Q Fever, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral Leishmaniasis, West Nile Virus).

The infectious diseases listed above have different requirements for timing of onset:

  • The following must have become manifest to a degree of 10% or more within one year from the date of separation from a qualifying period of service: Brucellosis, Campylobacter Jejuni, Coxiella Burnetti/Q Fever, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, West Nile Virus
  • Malaria must have become manifest to a degree of 10% or more within one year from the date of separation from a qualifying period of service OR at a time when standard or accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period commenced during a qualifying period of service.
  • Visceral Leishmaniasis and tuberculosis do not have a time limit for when they have to become manifest to a degree of 10% or more.
  • In addition to the Southwest Asia theater of operations locations listed above, active military, naval, or air service on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan also qualifies for these infectious disease presumptions.

Compensation will not be paid for an undiagnosed illness, a medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness or infection disease in the following circumstances:

  • There is affirmative evidence that the disability or disease was not incurred during a qualifying period of service;
  • There is affirmative evidence that the disability or disease was caused by a supervening condition or event that occurred between the veteran’s most recent departure from a qualifying period of service and the onset of the disability or disease; or
  • There is affirmative evidence that the disability or disease is the result of the veteran’s own willful misconduct or the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Southwest Asia Theater of Military Operations

Veterans that may suffer from Gulf War Syndrome are those who served after August 2, 1990, in the following locations in and around the Middle East:

  • Bahrain
  • Gulf of Aden
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.B.)
  • The Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea
  • The airspace above these locations

This also involves veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003–2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010–2011).

Causes of Gulf War Syndrome

There are several recognized causes of Gulf War Syndrome. These include:

  • Exposure to pesticides
  • Ingestion of pyridostigmine bromide pills
  • Emissions from oil well fires
  • Exposure to nerve gases such as sarin or cyclosarin

Compensation for Gulf War Syndrome

The compensation you can recover depends on the severity of your symptoms. A veterans’ disability lawyer can help you better understand the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. However, these are the following monthly compensation rates effective December 1, 2019 for a single Veteran with no dependents :

● 10 percent disability rating: $142.29 per month

● 20 percent disability rating: $281.27 per month

● 30 percent disability rating: $435.69 per month

● 40 percent disability rating: $627.61 per month

● 50 percent disability rating: $893.43 per month

● 60 percent disability rating: $1,131.68 per month

● 70 percent disability rating: $1,426.17 per month

● 80 percent disability rating: $1,657.80 per month

● 90 percent disability rating: $1,826.96 per month

● 100 percent disability rating: $3,106.04 per month

Denials of Gulf War Syndrome claims are all too common. If your claim for a Gulf War illness was denied, or rated too low you have the right to appeal that decision. A veteran’s disability lawyer can help. Call (888) 392-5392 for veterans’ disability legal help.