Veterans' Compensation:

Evidence Considered in Persian Gulf War Undiagnosed Illness Claims

HEHS-96-112: Published: May 28, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the procedures the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to process Persian Gulf War undiagnosed illness claims.

GAO found that: (1) before VA will provide benefits, veterans must provide it with evidence of a chronic disability and verifiable evidence of time lost from work, prior medical treatment, or changes in appearance, physical abilities, or psychological condition; (2) both denied and approved claims consist primarily of service medical records and VA medical examinations, but approved claims usually include an independent medical history and sometimes include nonmedical evidence; (3) denied claims lacked sufficient evidence because of poor VA procedures and veterans' failure to collect relevant information; and (4) while VA reports that most denied claims were denied because the alleged disability did not become evident during active duty or the subsequent 2-year presumptive period, it stated in denial letters to veterans that their claims lacked sufficient evidence.

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