Was Your VA Disability Claim for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Denied?

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 VA disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and what to do if your claim was denied.

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.

How Does the VA Rate Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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:

10% Disability Rating For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

20% Disability Rating For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

40% Disability Rating For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

60% Disability Rating For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

100% Disability Rating For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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:

  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Low-grade fever
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Headaches
  • Worsening of symptoms following physical or mental activity
  • Fatigue or exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours

Common Causes of Service-Related Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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:

  • Viral infections
  • Psychological stress
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • A weakened immune system

How is Service Connection Established for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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.

Matthew  White


Appellate Attorney Matthew White represents veterans before the Board of Veterans Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Brendan Garcia


Owner and Lead Attorney Brendan Garcia represents veterans in all 50 states with their VA Disability Appeals, in all stages of the VA Appeals process.

Contact a VA Disability Lawyer Today

A VA Disability Lawyer’s role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating appeals process if you have been denied 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.

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.

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.

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.

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Please fill out the form below, or give us a call, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. The more detail you can provide, the better we can determine if we can help you. (And even if we can’t take your case, we will do our best to offer other options, and point you in the best direction we can!)

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