Gulf War Syndrome & VA Disability Benefits

Gulf War Syndrome & VA Disability Benefits

Many veterans are experiencing a number of chronic, medically unexplained symptoms associated with their service in the Gulf War. Those that served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations from 1990 to the present have shown high rates of long-term health problems. Together, these symptoms and medical conditions are known as Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), Gulf War illnesses (GWI), or chronic multisymptom illness (CMI). The VA prefers to use the term “Medically Unexplained Illnesses.” If you are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and your condition leaves you unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits.

Symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome

The symptoms associated with Gulf War Syndrome are a wide range of both acute and chronic conditions, most notably:

  • Fatigue (often diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, and other unexplained pain (Fibromyalgia)
  • Memory loss and other cognitive problems
  • Headaches, dizziness, and insomnia
  • Rashes and other skin issues
  • Digestive and respiratory problems

Gulf War Exposures

The scientific community’s understanding of Gulf War illnesses is still evolving. While researchers cannot pinpoint a specific cause of Gulf War Syndrome, they have identified some of the hazardous exposures of the Gulf War that could potentially cause health problems. These include:

  • Vaccinations (including anthrax and botulinum toxoid)
  • Burning gas and oil well fires
  • Uranium
  • Other biological and chemical weapons
  • Pesticides
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide (a preventative drug designed to protect against nerve agents)
  • Chemical agent resistant coating (CARC) used on military vehicles
  • Infectious diseases (such as malaria and West Nile virus)
  • Combat stress

Can I receive disability benefits for my Gulf War Syndrome?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with Gulf War Syndrome and are unable to work, you may qualify for VA disability, Social Security disability (SSD or SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each of these benefit programs has different qualifications and application requirements. Even if you have already been awarded or denied veterans disability benefits, you can still file a claim for SSDI or SSI, as they are not mutually exclusive.

When applying for disability benefits, it is important to produce a thorough, complete medical history. It helps to have a clear, specific diagnosis. Unfortunately, even with a diagnosis such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, many of the claims due to symptoms and conditions associated with Gulf War Syndrome are denied. This is because medically unexplained illnesses are more difficult to “prove” than certain other conditions. An experienced disability lawyer may have insight on the most effective ways to document and demonstrate your disability.

Get Help Today

If you are a veteran or civilian worker unable to work due to the debilitating symptoms associated with your service in the Gulf War, speak with a disability attorney right away. Whether you are in the initial application process or your disability claim has already been denied, the knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Klok Law Firm LLC can help you present your best case and guide you through the confusing appeal process.

Contact us today for a free consultation.