Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, announced that sufficient evidence existed to establish presumption of service connection for three respiratory conditions related to particulate matter exposure. Effective August 2, 2021, the VA will begin processing claims for asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis for veterans who served in (1) Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War (September 19, 2001 to present) OR (2) the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990 to present. The Southwest Asia theater of operations refers to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and 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 airspace above these locations.
Veterans who developed asthma, rhinitis and/or sinusitis within 10 years of a qualifying period of military service in these areas could be eligible for service connected disability benefits. Currently, the VA will be reviewing pending claims for these conditions to determine if the claimant qualifies for service connected disability benefits due to the grant of presumption. For those veterans who served in an area noted above but never filed a claim for asthma, rhinitis, or sinusitis, Form 21-526EZ should be filed while those who were denied service connection in the past are able to reopen their claim(s) by filing Form 20-0995.
If you are not sure whether or not you might be able to qualify for benefits under these new presumptive conditions, the VA will be reaching out to impacted veterans and survivors to advise them about eligibility and the steps to take to begin the process to qualify for these benefits.