VA is Working, Pushing for a New Deadline for Gulf War IllnessesWednesday, April 21, 2021
The deadline for Gulf War veterans to seek benefits for some service-connected illnesses is currently December 31st, 2021. However, according to the VA officials, the department is working to push this deadline back. If they are successful, this would be the 6th time the deadline has been moved in recent years. The last deadline was in 2016 but was ultimately pushed to 2021.
Federal policy dictates that a number of illnesses related to the Gulf War may be considered service-connected on a presumptive basis if they satisfy certain conditions. One of those conditions being that their illness must manifest during active military, naval, or air service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations. Given that no official end date for the Gulf War has ever been established by Congress or the president, the VA has continued to push back the deadline. If they did not, those veterans whose conditions appear after the deadline, would not be eligible.
Another reason for the continued delay of the deadline is to allow additional time to study the conditions and their causes. More specifically, the VA hopes to determine a fair and accurate presumptive period based on scientific findings. “VA is currently drafting a regulation to extend the deadline to allow more time for study and review of the science,” said Teri McClelland of the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Since 1994, the VA has automatically presumed disability connections from Gulf War service which includes toxic exposures to massive burn pits, chemical weapons, and more causes of severe illnesses. When the deadline was extended in 2016, the VA wrote in the Federal Register that symptoms from Gulf War illnesses or disabilities could manifest at any time and scientific research is still being conducted to determine the nature and causes of these illnesses. Officials from the VA stated that there is no medical or scientific basis to support the current deadline (2016).
It appears that though five years have passed, a similar situation is still at hand and the VA is expected to announce a new deadline for Gulf War illness claims.