The selfless individuals who give their service to the military are put through a great deal of stress, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, many veterans suffer from physical ailments as a result of their military service. While most of these physical injuries are pretty straightforward when it comes to receiving diagnosis and treatment, others aren’t quite as straightforward. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one condition that often goes undiagnosed or even denied, leaving many veterans in a vulnerable position. Read on to learn more about veteran disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and what to do if your received a denial on your claim.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). In order to receive VA disability benefits, you will need a current diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) from your doctor. However, this is often easier said than done, as many medical professionals are hesitant to diagnose patients with this condition. While CFS is a serious chronic illness, common among both the general population and veterans, it is still a very misunderstood illness.
Even when obtaining a diagnosis, receiving proper treatment can be just as difficult due to the many unknowns that still exist around CFS. Unfortunately, with all the uncertainty surrounding CFS, many VA disability claims for CFS are denied. Due to the high chance of denial, it is in your best interest to work with a qualified VA disability attorney who can help you obtain service connection and the treatment that you deserve.
Along with having an experienced attorney on your side, it’s also important to understand how the VA rates CFS. In alignment with the current protocol, the VA disability ratings for chronic fatigue syndrome are:
With a 10% VA rating, your CFS likely waxes, and wanes, leaving you with periods of incapacitation for at least a week but less than two weeks out of a year.
With a 20% VA rating, your CFS can be felt nearly constantly, and it restricts your daily activities by less than 25% of pre-illness levels. You are likely to experience periods of incapacitation between two and four weeks out of the year.
With a 40% VA rating, your CFS likely restricts your daily activities to 50-75% of your pre-illness level. You likely experience incapacitation between four and six weeks out of the year.
With a 60% VA rating, your CFS likely restricts your daily activities to 25-50% of your pre-illness level. You likely experience incapacitation six or more weeks out of the year.
With a 100% VA rating, your CFS is likely so debilitating that your daily routines and activities are almost completely restricted.
Essentially, this means that the more severe your CFS symptoms are, the higher the VA rating you will receive. The VA disability rating for CFS largely depends on the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of CFS include:
While much is still unknown about CFS, there are some known correlations among veterans diagnosed with CFS. One correlation is that many service members who are now being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were stationed in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War. Along with the connection between CFS and Gulf War Veterans, other common causes of CFS include:
With the uncertainty surrounding CFS, there is some complexity in establishing a service connection with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Due to the high number of Gulf War Veterans already diagnosed with CFS, the VA naturally presumes a service connection for CFS if you served in the Southwest Asia theater operation on or after August 2, 1990. However, VA sometimes questions the CFS diagnosis, so it’s important to make sure the diagnosis is adequately supported in your medical records prior to filing an application requesting service connection for chronic fatigue syndrome. If you did not serve in the Southwest Asia theater of operations after 1990, a service connection can still be established for CFS if you can otherwise show a nexus to your active duty service. An experienced VA disability attorney will be able to help you build your case and establish this connection.
Can you get disability for chronic fatigue syndrome?
If you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of your military service, you will likely be able to get VA disability benefits. You will need to prove your diagnosis and that the CFS is service-related before you can start receiving benefits.
Can chronic fatigue syndrome be secondary to PTSD?
If you are a veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD and you are now suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, the two may be related. In some cases, if you can prove that your CFS is caused by your service-connected PTSD this may be enough to establish a service connection for your CFS.
Can chronic fatigue syndrome be presumptive service-connected by VA as a chronic disease?
There are a few particular situations where CFS is considered to be presumptively service-connected. One example is if you served in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East, including at sea in the Persian Gulf anytime on or after August 2, 1990 — this would fall under the VA’s Gulf War Presumption.
A Veteran Disability Lawyer’s role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating claim appeals process if you have received a denial of benefits for your service-connected chronic fatigue syndrome. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement.
If your VA disability claim for chronic fatigue syndrome has been denied, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.