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Presumptive Service Connection For Gulf War Veterans

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Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses

Special Presumptive Service Connection Rules for Gulf War Veterans

Certain illnesses and diseases are “presumed” by VA to be related to your military service in designated areas of Southwest Asia and may entitle you to VA disability compensation benefits. For Gulf War Veterans, these presumptive diseases include:

  • Medically unexplained illnesses .
  • Certain infectious diseases.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosed in all Veterans who had 90 days or more continuous active military service.

Learn more about VA benefits for Gulf War Veterans:

Gulf War Veterans may still seek to establish service connection individually for other, “non-presumptive” diseases and illnesses related to service in the Gulf War. Learn more about qualifying for disability compensation for non-presumptive conditions on the Compensation website.

Who Qualifies For Presumptive Service Connection For Gulf War Syndrome

As explained above, usually to have VA approve a claim connecting a disability to military service, a veteran needs to show: a current disability, an in-service injury or illness, and a link between the in-service injury or illness and the current disability. But veterans do not have to prove an in-service injury or illness if they have certain qualifying service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations. Instead, the VA presumes an in-service injury or illness for veterans who:

  • Served on active military, naval, or air service
  • In Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the 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, or the airspace above these locations
  • Since August 2, 1990.

Note that the designated area covered does not include Afghanistanbut veterans with service in Afghanistan during the Persian Gulf War Era may qualify for presumptive service connection for certain infectious diseases ..

If a veteran doesnt have the qualifying service above, he or she might still be able to receive VA disability compensation for disabilities due to service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, but the veterans claim and evidence collected by the VA must show that the veterans claimed disability is at least as likely as not related to or incurred in service.

Understanding Vas Gulf War Presumption

Beginning in 1990, veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations were exposed to numerous hazardous toxins and harmful environmental conditions. As Gulf War veterans returned from service, they began to experience unexplained illnesses and symptoms. These conditions were collectively referred to as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome.

In an effort to streamline the claims process, VA established presumptive service connection for Gulf War Illness under 38 CFR § 3.317. To qualify for presumptive service connection, a Persian Gulf War veteran must have experienced symptoms for at least six months, and the symptoms must be at least 10 percent disabling.

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Establishing Presumptive Service Connection

Ninety days of service is required for certain defined presumptive conditions manifesting within one year after service and for tropical diseases. If a current disease or condition is considered presumptive service-connected, there is no need to establish a nexus or link between that disease or condition and active duty service. It is automatically considered to be caused by service.

It is important to note that some VA-listed presumptive conditions may not actually be the result of service, but many years after discharge may be the result of other non-service health developments. In this case, even though the presumptive condition manifests itself after service, it is necessary that the in-service presumptions apply or there is no benefit. In order to be service-connected, many presumptive conditions must have manifest within a certain period of time after leaving the service usually to a degree of 10% disability within the first year.

Va Extends Gulf War Presumption Deadline To 2026

New generation of pilots service connect for PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the deadline for Persian Gulf War veterans with certain presumptive conditions to receive disability benefits. The deadline, which was previously set to expire on December 31, 2021, has now been extended to December 31, 2026.

Gulf War veterans with eligible chronic disabilities from undiagnosed illnesses may qualify for presumptive service connection if their symptoms began anytime between their active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations and December 31, 2026.

This new presumption deadline intends to more fairly administer benefits established by Congress. Veterans who have not yet experienced symptoms, and veterans who have experienced symptoms but have not yet documented their symptoms with a medical provider, will benefit from this extension.

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The Va Has Extended The Gulf War Syndrome Deadline By 5 Years

Big news for 2022! The VA recently extended the Gulf War presumptive deadline to December 31, 2026. Congress has given you five additional years to file!

Before the extension,you would have had to meet a December 31, 2021 deadline if claiming Gulf war presumptives. This meant that you had to have symptoms begin by December 31, 2021 .

For all the veterans out there who are dealing with symptoms but havent seen a doctor for a diagnosisthis extension is for you! You still have time to build a claim and get VA disability benefits. In addition, some Gulf War veterans may not have developed symptoms yet.

Gulf War Illnesses Linked To Afghanistan Service

If you served in Afghanistan, you may suffer from illnesses or other conditions that we assume are related to service in this region. We call these presumptive diseases. Find out if you can get disability compensation or benefits.

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Service Requirements For Presumption Of Exposure

The VA bases eligibility for disability compensation benefits, in part, on whether you served in a location that exposed you to Agent Orange. The VA calls this having a presumption of exposure.

You have a presumption of exposure if you meet at least one of the service requirements listed below.

Between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, you must have served for any length of time in at least one of these locations:

  • In the Republic of Vietnam, or
  • Aboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of Vietnam, or
  • On a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, or
  • On regular perimeter duty on the fenced-in perimeters of a U.S. Army installation in Thailand or a Royal Thai Air Force base. These bases include U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, or Don Muang.

Or at least one of these must be true. You:

  • Served in or near the Korean DMZ for any length of time between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971, or
  • Served on active duty in a regular Air Force unit location where a C-123 aircraft with traces of Agent Orange was assigned, and had repeated contact with this aircraft due to your flight, ground, or medical duties, or
  • Were involved in transporting, testing, storing, or other uses of Agent Orange during your military service, or
  • Were assigned as a Reservist to certain flight, ground, or medical crew duties at one of the below locations.

Presumptive Conditions Caused By Exposure To Herbicide In Vietnam

VA’s Gulf War Presumptives

The veteran must have 90 continuous days or more of service. Herbicides were used in Vietnam to defoliate trees in order to remove cover for the enemy. During the manufacturing process, significance amounts of harmful contaminants called dioxins were produced. Different blends of herbicides were used but the most common was one called “Agent Orange.” Being on the ground in Vietnam, during the war or on the inland waterways is sufficient for presumption for service connection. Harmful exposure other than the automatic “boots on the ground” for Vietnam is generally considered to be inhalation and not topical.

Exposure also occurred in Thailand, the demilitarized zone in Korea and on certain ships anchored offshore within the territorial limits of Vietnam . In addition, numerous storage, spraying operations, testing and loading sites outside the country and inside the US could have resulted in exposure. Also any aircrews flying C123 aircraft which were used for dispersal anywhere in the world up through 1987 are also considered to have been exposed to the herbicide. Aircrew exposure does not require active duty service as members of the Air Force Reserve flew these aircraft for a number of years up through 1987 well after the Vietnam war was over.

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Proving A Presumptive Service

The VA will not simply take the word of a veteran that he or she is living with a disability on the list of presumptive service-connected conditions. Like with any VA claim, a former servicemember must meet a minimum standard of proof that he or she does in fact suffer from the condition for which they are claiming disability benefits.

While the simplest way to go about obtaining this proof is securing a medical diagnosis during the eligible time-frames listed by the VA, there are still options available for veterans who were not diagnosed during the presumptive period. This process starts with obtaining a clear medical diagnosis. The doctor providing the diagnosis could provide evidence that the condition in question was present during the presumptive period even though the diagnosis came later.

Additional pieces of evidence that could be used to establish a presumption of service connect could include statements or testimony of friends and family indicating that the veteran exhibited symptoms of the condition during the presumptive period. While this type of evidence collection might be similar to what is required of a former servicemember without a presumption, the burden of proof is much lower for presumptive conditions.

Benefits Of The Presumption Of Service

While it is possible to secure VA benefits without the presumption that a veterans condition is service connected, there are significant benefits to having a presumptive service-connected condition. When the VA presumes that a condition is connected to a veterans active-duty service, it saves that veteran the time and effort of having to prove a medical nexus between his or her disability and an incident that took place during their military service.

This is important for a number of reasons. First, many of the conditions are not easily connected to service-connected incidents, allowing former servicemembers to collect disability compensation even in cases where they might struggle to prove a connection to service link.

More importantly, most of the conditions on the list are severe or deadly. By presuming that these conditions are service-related, the VA allows veterans to avoid lengthy bureaucratic delays as they deal with a life-threatening illness or injury.

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Disability Compensation For Presumptive Conditions

VA presumes that specific disabilities diagnosed in certain veterans were caused by their military service. VA does this because of the unique circumstances of their military service. If one of these conditions is diagnosed in a Veteran in one of these groups, VA presumes that the circumstances of his/her service caused the condition, and disability compensation can be awarded.

The following diseases and conditions are considered to be part of this program:

What If Ive Already Filed A Claim And Been Denied

Expand agent orange presumptive benefits to blue water vietnam

If you have lung cancer or one of the other respiratory cancers on the new presumptive list and have been denied VA benefits in the past, dont worry. Even if your claim was previously denied, the updated rules mean that your service will now be presumed to be linked to your cancer. Your claim wont automatically be approvedyoull still need to meet the other elements of service connectionbut youll no longer need to prove that your cancer is caused by your service.

The VA will be contacting veterans and their survivors who may be affected by the updated Gulf War presumptive list for 2022. The overwhelming burden of proof requirement placed on veterans has probably kept hundreds or thousands of veterans from applying for VA disability benefits, even though they were suffering from respiratory cancers.

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How Does Presumptive Service Connection Work

The VA presumes that certain conditions are caused by military service. Gulf War-related disabilities such as medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness are only one group of presumptives. Examples of other presumptive conditions include veteran exposure to Agent Orange or burn pit exposure and respiratory cancers .

When theres accumulated evidence of repeated associations between specific medical conditions and specific service environments, the VA presumes that these links are not coincidental and that the disability was caused by military service. The VA created the VA Presumptive List to address this and make it easier for affected veterans to pursue their disability claims and receive benefits.

Disabilities become presumed disabilities and are added to the list when the VA observes trends in medical conditions that veterans develop after serving in certain circumstances at particular times and places. If you served in certain places/times and develop a correlating condition on the list, its presumed to be caused by that service and is thus eligible for disability.

Presumptive service connection for Gulf War illnesses was granted by the VA to make it easier for Gulf War veterans to obtain service connection for their disabilities.

In order to explain presumptive service connection, lets first cover what you need to include in a typical VA claim to prove service connection.

What Is Presumptive Service Connection

Being presumptively service-connected is a way of qualifying for disability compensation without proving that an illness was caused or aggravated by military service. When Gulf War vets have what is called a “qualifying chronic disability” , their illness is presumed to be service connected. This makes it easier to obtain disability benefits.

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How Much Compensation Can I Get For Gulf War Syndrome

Once service connection is proven for Gulf War Illness, the amount of monthly, tax-free payments that a veteran receives will depend on their specific disability and how much that disability affects earning capacity.

For example, service-connected irritable bowel syndrome can be rated as 0, 10, or 30 percent disabling depending on how frequent and severe episodes of bowel or abdominal issues are.

Generally, asymptomatic conditions are assigned a 0 percent disability rating, meaning the veteran gets no monthly disability compensation for that condition.

Click here to learn more about how the VA assigns disability ratings and determines the amount of monthly disability compensation.

Gulf War Presumptive Illnesses

The TRUTH about Gulf War Presumptives!

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest and 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, 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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Get Help With Your Claimand The Compensation You Deserve

Regardless of whether or not you qualify for compensation for presumptive disabilities resulting from Gulf War Syndrome, its important to pursue monthly compensation and benefits for any disabilities connected to your military service.

Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and therefore not getting the compensation theyre due. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation youre owed by law.

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim so you can increase your rating in less time!

If youve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low ratingor youre unsure how to get startedreach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what youve been missingso you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve!

Weve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW ITS YOUR TURN.

Who Is Eligible For The New Gulf War Presumptive Respiratory Cancers

To be eligible for these new Gulf War presumptives, veterans must be diagnosed with at least one of the respiratory cancers listed above.

Additionally, veterans must have served during one of these periods in these locations:

  • From August 2, 1990, to the present in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, OR
  • From September 19, 2001, to the present in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, or Djibouti

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What Is Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is air pollution that consists of tiny particles of solid or liquid matter. These particles are so small that they cant be seen with the naked eye, but they can still wreak havoc with your health.

There are several potential causes of particulate matter in the Middle East, including dust storms, pollution, vehicle exhaust, fires, and smoke from burn pits.

Burn pits were a common way of disposing of waste during the Gulf War. They were large pits set on fire and used to burn everything from human waste to vehicles, paint, airplane parts, plastics, petroleum, ammunition, and much more. Veterans exposed to the smoke and fumes from these burn pits are at an increased risk of developing respiratory cancers and other respiratory problems.

Take Action On Your Respiratory Cancer Now

Important information for soldiers approaching discharge

If you think you or a loved one may qualify for this new Gulf War presumptive , dont wait for the VA to reach outstart a claim as soon as possible to get the compensation you deserve.

To apply, use VA Form 21-526EZ if applying for the first time, or VA Form 20-0995 if youre reapplying for these respiratory cancers.

You can also view the VAs page on Airborne Hazards and Burn Pit Exposure Public Health for more information.

Were here to help you build a fully-developed claim for your respiratory cancer. If you need help with your claim or have questions, dont hesitate to reach out to us.

VA Claims Insider and our team of veteran coaches will be keeping abreast of the new rule and its impact on veterans. Stay tuned for more information!


Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and therefore not getting the compensation theyre due. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation youre owed by law.

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim so you can increase your rating fast!

Weve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW ITS YOUR TURN.

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