Author – Edward Farmer

Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney.  A majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans with VA disability appeals. More information regarding Edward and his law firm can be found at www.vetlawoffice.com

The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here.

Welcome to Our Disability News Column.

Five Things Veterans Should Know About Their VA Fibromyalgia Claims

By Edward M. Farmer

Like other veterans, veterans of the Persian Gulf Wars and Operation Iraqi Freedom can receive service-connected compensation from the Department of Veteran Affairs for disabilities that were incurred during or aggravated by their service in the armed forces. Many Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans may have been exposed to biological or environmental hazards or to preventative medicine or vaccines whose effects are not well known and are the subject of ongoing scientific research.  As a result, these veterans may be suffering from multisymptom disabilities, such as fibromyalgia, that are poorly understood by the medical profession.

Special rules exist to allow these veterans to obtain service connection even if their disability cannot be service connected under the regular rules.  In this article, I will share five things to help win your claim for fibromyalgia with the VA.

  1. Congress enacted generous rules that make it easier for Gulf War Vets with fibromyalgia to win their claims.

Some Gulf War Veterans with fibromyalgia are entitled “presumptive service-connection”.  This means, given the other factors discussed below are met, fibromyalgia will be presumed related to the veteran’s service.  This is a powerful rule that eliminates the need for evidence linking the fibromyalgia to events in service.  For instance, veterans who qualify under this rule do not need a medical opinion stating the fibromyalgia is related to service.

  1. The VA’s idea of the “Persian Gulf War” is probably different from yours.

To benefit from the special rules for Fibromyalgia, a Veteran must qualify as a Persian Gulf War Veteran.  The VA considers the Persian Gulf War to be continuously ongoing since August 2, 1990.  Therefore, the rules discussed in this article not only apply to those veterans who served in the first Gulf War during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm but they also apply to those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and to some extent, Operation Enduring Freedom.

  1. “Southwest Asia” does not include all of the countries in Southwest Asia.

To take advantage of the special rules concerning fibromyalgia, Veterans must also have served on active military, naval, or air service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations.  This includes service in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations.  Unfortunately, veterans stationed in Turkey and the surrounding areas are not entitled to the presumption.  Further, the VA has been inconsistent with applying the presumption to Afghanistan veterans.  As of the date of this column, it is unclear whether the VA considers veterans who served in Afghanistan to have served in Southwest Asia for purposes of the presumption.

  1. Fibromyalgia is considered an unexplained “qualifying chronic disability.”

Veterans applying for service-connection under the Gulf War presumption, must suffer from “a qualifying chronic disability” which includes any “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness (MUCMI).”  Luckily, you do not have to prove to the VA that fibromyalgia is a MUCMI as Congress has already determined that fibromyalgia meets this definition.  Instead, you simply need to show a current diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is confirmed with a brief physical exam that involves the testing of the trigger points. In order to give a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, the VA requires that there must be widespread pain lasting at least three months, and in at least 11 out of the 18 possible tender points.

  1. Your fibromyalgia symptoms can manifest at any time since your return from active duty in Southwest Asia.

The last requirement to obtain presumptive service-connection for fibromyalgia is that the symptoms must have become manifest during active military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations or to a degree of 10 percent at any time since the veteran’s return from active duty in Southwest Asia.  To a “degree of 10 percent” means the pain must be present on both sides of the body and both above and below the waist and requires continuous medication for control.

These are only five of many factors that can go into determining qualification for service-connected compensation from the VA.  Stay informed.  Knowledge is power and can make the difference in your VA claim. Please consult a VA accredited representative for additional assistance.

Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney.  A majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans with VA disability appeals. More information regarding Edward and his law firm can be found at www.vetlawoffice.com

The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here.

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