The key to rating Gulf War Syndrome for Military Disability is that it isn’t really a condition at all—just a catch-all term used to identify seemingly random and unrelated symptoms/conditions that many service members who served in the Gulf War started experiencing after their return.
These symptoms/conditions can range from memory problems to diarrhea to skin conditions to headaches. There is no real rhyme or reason to the symptoms.
The only benefit to having Gulf War Syndrome officially diagnosed is that then each of the symptoms/conditions that fall under that title are automatically considered service-connected and thus qualify for VA Disability (see our VA Presumptive List for complete details on what Gulf War Syndrome symptoms qualify for VA Disability). They also qualify for DoD Disability, but only if they make the service member Unfit for Duty and are present at the time of discharge from the military.
Beyond making a symptom service-connected, there is no benefit at all to an official diagnosis of Gulf War Syndrome. Regardless of the title, physicians would still treat headaches the same way whether or not they were part of Gulf War Syndrome.
Similarly, each symptom/condition under the Gulf War Syndrome label would be rated independently of the other symptoms just as they would anyway. A higher or increased rating is not given just because a group of symptoms is united under the Gulf War Syndrome title.
When deciding how to rate your Gulf War Syndrome symptoms, it is essential to remember the Pyramiding Principle: no single symptom can be rated twice. So if a vet has a migraine headaches and meningitis, he would not get two separate ratings since a common symptom of meningitis is a headache. A rating for meningitis would already include the headache. It can then not be rated separately.
So, ultimately, when deciding how to rate Gulf War Syndrome, each condition/symptom can be rated separately as long as now two share the same symptoms.
One final point: We recently had a vet contact us about whether or not it would be beneficial for him to have Gulf War Syndrome officially diagnosed. Looking at his symptoms, we found that they were all already listed in his service medical record and thus already considered service-connected. He was simply never officially diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome.
Since service-connection is the only real benefit to the title, in this case it would have been a waste of time and effort to get it officially diagnosed. It simply would not make a single difference to his overall rating. He was already getting fair compensation for all his symptoms/conditions.
The only time it may be beneficial to get Gulf War Syndrome diagnosed after leaving the military would be if additional symptoms appear after separation that need be determined service-connected in order to get a rating.
For further info on Gulf War Syndrome, visit our website.