VA Seeks to Extend Gulf War Syndrome Filing Deadline

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The VA is seeking to expand the time limit that veterans can claim disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome by five years.

In a document to be published in the Federal Register on October 17, the VA seeks to expand the time limit that veterans of the Gulf War may claim disability benefits for the chronic multi symptom illness known as Gulf War Syndrome from December 31, 2016 until December 31, 2021. The VA is inviting the public to comment on their plans by December 18, 2016. The document, with instructions for commenting can be found on the Federal Register website.

Gulf War Syndrome is defined by the VA as a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. See our Gulf War Syndrome page for more details.

There is no medical or scientific evidence about the nature and cause of the illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans, however the VA says that studies by the National Academy of Sciences proved that these conditions occur in Gulf War Veterans three times more than they do in the civilian population. Based on that fact, the VA grants what it calls "presumptive disability" to veterans suffering from these conditions. Presumptive Disability means that Gulf War Veterans suffering from these conditions don't need to prove their military service caused the health problems in order to receive VA disability compensation.

Gulf War Veterans may also qualify for VA medical care.

In their request to extend the time period that veterans may claim disability for Gulf War Syndrome, the VA cited a study done earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences that stated "at present, there is insufficient basis to identify the point, if any, at which the increased risk of chronic multi symptom illness may abate". That means the symptoms may still show up in veterans more than 25 years after the war's end. In order to provide fairness to affected veterans the VA says they want to continue to provide disability benefits to veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome no matter when the illnesses begin.

See the VA's Gulf War Syndrome page and Heath Care for Gulf War Veterans page for more details.


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