If you are a veteran of the United States military and served during what is referred to as Gulf War Era 2, first of all—thank you for your service. In 2015, there were 3.6 million other veterans who had served alongside you during Gulf War Era 2. Out of that massive number of veterans, about 33% of them have reported having a disability that can be connected to their military service.
That's not even including veterans who served in Gulf War Era 1. If you are a Gulf War veteran, there are a few important things you should know if you are considering filing for disability from the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Administration, or both.
Gulf War Era 1 & Era 2 Timelines
Gulf War Era 1 begins at the start of Operation Desert Shield, which occurred on August 2, 1990. Era 1 ended in August 2001 and Era 2 started in September 2001, which was after the attack on 9/11. These timelines are typically used for statistical purposes. However, for disability purposes, the timeline runs from August 2, 1990 to present day. What this means is that, if you can prove that you were in the Gulf during the Gulf War Era, which can be easily done with your DD-214, you may have what is called a presumptive illness, which is automatically considered a disability by the VA.
If you are trying for disability from the VA and from the SSA, then it's in your best interest to establish your VA disability first. The reason for this is because the court system has determined that the SSA must give substantial weight to disability ratings that are given by the VA. And if you already have one of the presumptive illnesses that are automatically considered disabilities by the VA, you won't have a battle on your hands to establish disability through the SSA.
There are several illnesses that are commonly affecting veterans of the Gulf War to the point that the illnesses are automatically presumed to be service-related. The list used to be called Gulf War Syndrome, but is now called medical undiagnosed illnesses or chronic multi-symptom illnesses. The symptoms vary and can include and/or resemble chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, psychological conditions, respiratory disorders, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and abnormal weight loss.
If you cannot prove that you've had one of these presumptive illnesses for at least 6 months, you will need to undergo medical tests and evaluations in order to determine if you have one or more of the presumptive illnesses. But just because it's determined that you do have one of those illnesses, doesn't mean money in the bank. Your disability will need to be rated.
VA Disability vs. Social Security Administration Disability
The Veteran's Administration rates disabilities based on a percentage. For example, after tests, they may determine that your presumptive illnesses limit your ability to remain gainfully employed by 20%. Then, your disability will be rated 20%. This would mean that your disability payment would be 20% of the base pay. Likewise, if they determine that you are 100% disabled, then your VA disability payment would be 100% of base pay. To receive VA disability, you need to be rated at least 10%.
The Social Security Administration doesn't rate disabilities in the same way. For them, it's all or nothing. You are either disabled or you are not. And while the SSA is supposed to give weight to the VA disability rating, having a low rating may not seem relevant enough of a disability for the SSA to award you with disability payments. Hire an attorney to help you navigate the steps involved in establishing disability through the SSA after you've gotten your VA disability rating. Check out websites like http://toddeast.com/ to get started.