Getting VA Disability Benefits for Gulf War Syndrome

Until recently, Veterans seeking VA disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome had to prove a direct connection between their military service and their illness to receive benefits. However, Gulf War Syndrome can now be considered a presumptive condition.

Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), also called Gulf War Illness (GWI), affects about 250,000 U.S. Veterans. The condition affects Gulf War Veterans, who report clusters of chronic symptoms including fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. The condition is believed to have been triggered by Veterans’ exposure to environmental toxins.

What Are Presumptive Conditions?

In most cases, when Veterans apply for disability benefits, extensive documentation must be provided to qualify. However, there exists a classification known as Presumptive Disability Benefits. Under this classification, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established a specific set of ailments presumed to have been caused by military service. Gulf War Syndrome is included in this category.

In cases of a presumptive condition, there is no requirement to prove that one’s service caused it. Rather, meeting the service requirements outlined for the presumption is enough. This is referred to as a presumptive service connection. Veterans with presumptive service connections are eligible for disability benefits from the VA.

The PACT Act

Presumptive Gulf War illnesses fall under the PACT Act, enacted in 2022. The act’s full name is Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 or simply the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022.

The PACT Act of 2022 expands the periods during which Veterans can enroll for health care benefits. Additionally, it recognizes health concerns that may be challenging to attribute directly to exposure to hazardous substances during military service. This is particularly relevant for individuals who served after September 11, 2001.

Applying for Disability Benefits with a Presumptive Gulf War Illness

For those who have not yet applied for disability benefits for a presumptive condition, the option to file a new claim is available online, by mail, or in person. If the VA has previously denied a disability claim that may now be reconsidered as presumptive, a supplemental claim can be filed using VA Form 20-0995.

An experienced Veterans’ benefits lawyer can navigate potential obstacles and enhance the likelihood of a successful outcome. An attorney can oversee all paperwork and monitor the claim’s status, ensuring compliance with filing deadlines. Missing deadlines may jeopardize eligibility, and the attorney will ensure the claim is submitted within the specified timeframe.

Key Steps in the VA Disability Benefits Claims Process

Even in cases of a presumptive condition, filing a claim requires various types of evidence. Key steps in the VA disability benefits claims process include:

Confirm Eligibility: Verify eligibility for presumptive conditions based on Gulf War service before commencing the claims process.

Select the Appropriate Claim Form: Choose the suitable VA claim form corresponding to the circumstances; for Gulf War-related claims, VA Form 21-526EZ is commonly used.

Provide Detailed Information: Furnish a thorough and precise account of military service, deployment locations, the onset of each presumed condition, and how conditions are connected to Gulf War service.

Include Supporting Documents: Medical records that show the diagnosis and severity of the claimed condition and military records that show a Veteran met the service requirements for the presumption.

Monitor Claim Status: Regularly monitor the status of the claim through the VA’s online portal or by contacting the VA to stay abreast of any updates or requests for additional information.

A lawyer familiar with the VA benefits system can be a valuable advocate to help with this often time-consuming task.

How Can a Veterans’ Benefits Lawyer Help Me?

A Veterans’ benefits lawyer serves as an advocate when a Veteran applies for disability benefits related to their service in the Gulf War. With experience in this field of law, such lawyers facilitate a smoother and more successful journey. They possess a deep understanding of the regulations and circumstances that correlate health issues with Gulf War service. This knowledge includes awareness of the conditions presumed to be connected, simplifying the process for Veterans to obtain benefits.

A lawyer assists in gathering crucial documents, such as medical and service records, demonstrating the connection between Gulf War Illness and Gulf War service. Navigating the claim filing process can resemble following a complex map, but an attorney is poised to guide Veterans through each step, ensuring compliance with all requirements for benefits.

In instances where a claim is initially denied, the attorney can intervene to appeal the decision, providing additional evidence, representing the Veteran in hearings, and striving for a favorable outcome. This becomes particularly important in the presence of disagreements or challenges within the claims process.

While filing a claim can be stressful, having a lawyer provides a supportive partner in pursuit of rightfully deserved benefits.

​About Gulf War Illness

Until recently, Gulf War Illness was a bit of a mystery. The VA filed it under a broad banner of Undiagnosed Illnesses or “chronic multi-symptom illness” connected to service in the Gulf Wars. However, two new studies have shed more light on the illness.

A Duke University-led study finds that Gulf War Illness significantly reduces Veterans’ white blood cells’ ability to make energy. Scientists say this creates a measurable biochemical difference in Veterans who have the disease. Previously, GWI was diagnosed based on self-reporting by Veterans but there were no effective medical tests to diagnose it.

The new study presents measurements obtainable from blood samples. While not individually adequate as a diagnostic test, researchers believe these measurements could prove beneficial in enhancing treatment for Veterans afflicted with Gulf War Illness. They offer doctors an additional means to evaluate the effectiveness of prescribed treatments.

In another recent study, one carried out by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, mitochondrial impairment and inflammation were evaluated in 36 individuals, 19 of whom were Veterans with GWI. The results indicate that impaired mitochondrial function, rather than inflammation, is the principal factor behind GWI symptoms and should be prioritized in future clinical interventions.

Contact Berry Law About Gulf War Syndrome Claims

Leading Berry Law lawyers and legal professionals are Veterans themselves. They understand the unique challenges faced by Veterans pursuing VA benefits. They can help ensure eligibility for benefits based on the specific conditions associated with Gulf War Syndrome and meet its application criteria. The legal team at Berry Law stays abreast of potential changes in laws and regulations, ensuring that Veterans’ claims align with the latest guidelines for optimal success.

Veterans deserve every benefit owed to them. Veterans dealing with disability claims related to presumptive Gulf War illnesses don’t have to face the claims process alone. Call our legal team at 888-883-2483 or fill out our online contact form. We represent Veterans in all 50 states and our legal team is available 24/7.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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