Gulf War veterans can return home with various physical symptoms that are debilitating but seemingly unrelated. These symptoms used to stump doctors because they didn’t seem to be connected or explained by any official diagnosis. That’s when the VA and medical community began recognizing Gulf War Syndrome. Veterans with Gulf War Syndrome can receive disability benefits, but first, they must prepare for and undergo one or multiple C&P exams.
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If you were deployed in Southwest Asia in relation to the Gulf War, you might find yourself returning home with a myriad of symptoms that doctors seem unable to connect or explain. If doctors determine that your symptoms are Gulf War Syndrome, you’ll need to have a C&P Exam (or multiple exams) to receive disability benefits. This post explains what to expect and how to prepare for those exams.
Understanding Gulf War Syndrome
- Saudi Arabia
- The neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Iraq
- The United Arab Emirates
- Gulf of Aden
- Gulf of Oman
- The Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea
- The airspace above these locations
Gulf War Syndrome symptoms, according to a federal advisory committee, result from exposure to toxins and don’t improve over time.
Symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome include:
- Unexplained rashes or other dermatological symptoms
- Muscle or joint pain
- Neurological signs and symptoms
- Neuropsychological signs or symptoms
- Upper or lower respiratory issues
- Sleep disturbances
- Gastrointestinal concerns
- Cardiovascular concerns
- Abnormal weight loss
- Menstrual disorders
The VA presumes that the following symptoms are related to Gulf War service if they appeared during service and have persisted for six months or more, and are at least 10% debilitating:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dyspepsia, and abdominal pain syndrome
- Undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms like those described in the list above
Getting VA benefits for Gulf War Syndrome
You can receive VA benefits for Gulf War Syndrome, but first, you must complete a compensation and pension (C&P) exam. The VA will deny your claim if you don’t complete the requested C&P exam.
A C&P exam for Gulf War Syndrome is much like a regular VA exam except it probably won’t be at the VA. The medical professional will ask you questions, review evidence, and perform tests to determine your symptoms’ severity. Then they will issue an opinion about what they think the rating should be.
Gulf War Syndrome symptoms are service connected if you experienced them while serving in the areas listed above during the specified times. So, if these criteria apply to you, you’ll want to discuss Gulf War Syndrome during your C&P exam.
“Presumptive service connection is important with Gulf War Syndrome claims because a doctor doesn’t have to say that your illness is related to your service. You can skip that element of proof,” VA-certified disability benefits attorney Zack Evans said.
Downloadable C&P Exam Preparation Checklist
Click the image to download or print your own copy of our exam checklist or read more here.
Preparing for a Gulf War Syndrome C&P exam
The benefits claims process for Gulf War Syndrome differs from other cases because the VA may require you to complete multiple C&P exams. The reason for numerous exams is that many Gulf War veterans have multiple symptoms that aren’t medically explained. All of these symptoms must be evaluated and diagnosed, so they’re officially documented in your medical records.
A Gulf War Registry health exam before the C&P exam can help you identify your medical concerns and rule out other causes through a physical exam and lab testing. The Gulf War exam doesn’t take the place of a C&P exam, but it can support your claim and make it unnecessary to perform other exams to prove that something else isn’t causing your symptoms. The free exam can perhaps streamline the C&P exam process. The more quickly your C&P exam(s) is complete, the faster the VA begins processing your claim.
In addition to the Gulf War Registry health exam, you can prepare for the C&P exam by ensuring you have the documents you need and are ready to speak honestly and openly about the symptoms you’re experiencing.
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Woods and Woods can help
The critical thing to remember about the C&P exams for Gulf War Syndrome is that medical professionals must rule out all other possible diagnoses. Regardless of how many exams that takes, you can appeal if you receive your VA rating decision and think it’s incorrect. Contact Woods and Woods to file an initial claim or appeal a rating decision. You only pay us if we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Be honest about your symptoms, and avoid pretending to be “fine.” Be sure to explain what you can’t do that you could in the past and how your symptoms affect your daily life.
You may dress in casual clothes for your C&P exam. Since it’s a physical exam, you may be asked to put on a hospital gown, depending on your symptoms and what tests the medical professional needs to perform.