The previous extension by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the presumptive period for qualifying chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans was set to expire on December 31, 2021. The VA has now extended the presumptive period until December 31, 2026, which helps ensure benefits established by Congress are fairly administered.
The VA presumes certain conditions are related to Persian Gulf service without regard to cause. This means a medical opinion or “nexus,” are not required for service connection to be granted. The presumption applies for chronic disabilities rated at 10 percent or more resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans. These conditions include medically unexplained illnesses diagnosed while on active duty or prior to December 31, 2026, such as:
- Chronic Fatigue syndrome
- Functional gastrointestinal disorders
Additionally, Veterans with undiagnosed illnesses with the following symptoms may also be able to obtain presumptive service connection:
- Skin problems
- Muscle and joint pain
- Neurological or neuropsychological problems
- Symptoms involving the upper or lower respiratory system
- Sleep disturbance
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Cardiovascular problems
- Weight loss
- Menstrual disorders
The VA also provides presumptive service connection for conditions diagnosed within one year of separation, to include:
- Campylobacter jejuni
- Coxiella brunette (Q fever)
- Nontyphoid salmonella
- West Nil virus
The presumptive diseases of mycobacterium tuberculosis and Visceral leishmaniasis currently do not have an expiration date and a qualifying Veteran can receive benefits for these conditions if diagnosed at any time after separation.
It should be noted, the VA currently has added 3 presumptive conditions related to particulate matter exposure, commonly known as Burn Pit exposure or “Airborne Hazards.” These new presumptive conditions include asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis. To be eligible for these conditions Veteran’s must have service in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War, from September 19, 2001, to the present, or the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990, to the present. In addition to the smoke and fumes from open burn pits, some examples of “Airborne Hazards,” include:
- Sand, dust, and particulate matter
- General air pollution common in certain countries
- Fuel, aircraft exhaust and other mechanical fumes
- Smoke from oil well fires.
For more information on VA benefits available for Gulf War Veterans, please visit Gulf War Veterans – Veterans (va.gov). For more information on Airborne Hazards and for information on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBRP), please visit the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry – Public Health.
If you have any questions about how to file a claim for benefits or have been denied, please reach out to the experts at Finkelstein & Partner’s Veterans Service Group.