What Is The Gulf War Syndrome VA Disability Rating?

what is gulf war syndrome va disability rating military veterans

Many Gulf War-era veterans (those who served in the Persian Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom) suffer from a wide range of undiagnosed illnesses that have been classified as Gulf War Syndrome. Exposure to biological and environmental hazards is thought to be the main cause of many of the illnesses included in this classification. 

Gulf War Syndrome has proven to be one of the most difficult illnesses to prove as being service-connected. As a result, Congress has put special rules in place pertaining to benefits and assigning a Gulf War Syndrome VA disability rating. 

Areas Of Service 

Before establishing entitlement for compensation for Gulf War Syndrome, you must qualify as a Persian Gulf War veteran. The Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) classifies such veterans as those who served in the following areas after August 2, 1990: 

• Iraq 
• Kuwait 
• Saudi Arabia 
• Neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia 
• Bahrain 
• Qatar 
• The United Arab Emirates 
• Oman 
• The Gulf of Aden 
• The Gulf of Oman 
• The Persian Gulf 
• The Arabian Sea 
• The Red Sea 
• The airspace above all of these locations 

Illnesses Suffered 

Next, you must suffer from a qualifying chronic disability. These include the following illnesses, some of which are defined as unclassified illnesses but may be used to diagnose Gulf War Syndrome: 

• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 
• Fibromyalgia 
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 
• Certain respiratory ailments 
• Neurological issues 
• Abnormal weight loss or gain 
• Sleep disturbances 
• Gastrointestinal problems 

Please note that these symptoms must be chronic in nature (generally defined as existing for five months or more without an alternative diagnosis for the symptoms). 

Service Connection 

Finally, disability compensation for Gulf War Syndrome only applies if the disability manifested itself during active military service in the areas outlined above with a rating of at least 10% since the veteran’s return from service. 

Diagnosing an illness, establishing a connection to a specific service area or time period, and applying a disability rating can be challenging because the extent of disability or injury may not be clear. Also, individual symptoms that fall within the broad Gulf War Syndrome classification are rated separately; the Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (commonly referred to as the VASRD) does not give a unique VASRD code or a specific military disability rating for Gulf War Syndrome. Remember: Gulf War syndrome is not an actual condition; it is a catch-all term for a number of symptoms. These are the reasons why assigning a single disability rating for Gulf War Syndrome is so hard, and getting the disability rating (and the benefits) that you deserve can be complicated. 

When it comes to establishing a fair rating for Gulf War Syndrome, remember that each symptom you are experiencing or suffering from will be rated separately unless multiple symptoms can be classified under one condition. You can learn more by reading about the Gulf War VA claims and the process followed by the VASRD when it comes to rating different conditions. It's important for disabled military veterans to educate themselves about Gulf War Syndrome and what their VA can do to help.

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