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VA Amends Regulations Regarding Disability Compensation for Persian Gulf War Vets

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

While there is no time limit for claiming disability benefits from the VA in normal circumstances, some presumptive conditions do come with time restrictions.

The illnesses, commonly referred to as "Gulf War Syndrome," are considered "presumptive" by the VA, meaning veterans claiming a disability related to them are not required to prove they were caused by military service.

Gulf War illness (also known as Gulf War syndrome, Gulf War veterans’ illnesses, and chronic multi-symptom illness) is a collection of chronic symptoms that affects a substantial minority of veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991.

Originally the VA was scheduled to stop awarding benefits to new Gulf War veterans with a related disability diagnosis that was given after Dec. 31, 2021. However, the VA has extended that cutoff date to Dec. 31, 2026.

In a Sept. 14, 2021, Federal Register posting, the VA gives two major reasons for this change:

  1. As yet, no end date for the Persian Gulf War has been established;

  2. Medical evidence is still unclear as to how long illnesses caused by Persian Gulf service take to show up in affected veterans.

According to the VA, Gulf War Syndrome can manifest itself in various ways in affected veterans. The VA currently lists the following illnesses as related to Gulf War service:

  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -- a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not directly caused by other conditions.

  • Fibromyalgia -- a condition characterized by widespread muscle pain. Other symptoms may include insomnia, morning stiffness, headache and memory problems.

  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders -- a group of conditions marked by chronic or recurrent symptoms related to any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Functional condition refers to an abnormal function of an organ, without a structural alteration in the tissues. Examples include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia and 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.

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