Getting Veterans (VA) Disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome, common in Gulf War veterans, is difficult to define and even harder to diagnose. If you served in the military and received a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome during or after your service, you might be eligible for VA disability benefits. Unfortunately, because it is so difficult to define, diagnose, and prove, receiving veterans (VA) disability for Gulf War-related chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is often much more difficult than it should be.
A skilled VA disability attorney from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD can help. We have represented many veterans who initially applied on their own and received denials, despite having seemingly overwhelming evidence of a service-related disability. We can put our experience and vast resources to work for you and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Call our office today for a free consultation: 401-331-6300.
How can I qualify for VA disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?
The process for winning VA disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome is the same as for other service-related illnesses and injuries.
It requires three steps, and we can guide you through all of them. The first is receiving and presenting a valid, current chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis. The second is identifying a specific event during your military service that caused or contributed to the development of the condition. The third and final step is showing a medical opinion that links the in-service event we identify to your diagnosis.
To receive VA disability benefits, we need a current diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Some doctors are hesitant to label a patient with this condition, as it is hard to define and symptoms often come and go.
That said, if you have multiple symptoms listed below and they have persisted for six months or longer, you might meet the criteria established by many medical professionals for chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Sustained reduction in activity level
- Worsening of symptoms after physical or mental activity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thinking or memory problems
- Worsening of symptoms while sitting upright or standing
- Unexplained pain
In addition to a valid, current diagnosis, we need to establish service connection for your condition. This means we must identify a specific injury, illness, or occurrence during your military service that we can point to as the cause of your medical condition.
The VA will presume service connection for chronic fatigue syndrome if you served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations at any time on or after August 2, 1990 under its Gulf War Presumption. This includes the following locations:
- Saudi Arabia
- The neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates
- The Gulf of Aden
- The Gulf of Oman
- The Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea
If you did not serve in the Southwest Asia theater of operations after 1990, we can assess your individual case to determine another route to prove service connection.
Linking Medical Opinion
If you qualify for a presumption of service connection for chronic fatigue syndrome due to serving in a designated area listed above, we do not need to provide a linking medical opinion. If you do not qualify, our attorneys consult with doctors and other experts in the field to establish a nexus between the identified event in your military service and your chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis.
How Does VA Rate Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The VA awards disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome at different levels based on the severity of your condition. What matters is not the condition itself, but how it affects your ability to work and carry out activities of daily living.
VA disability ratings range from 0 to 100 percent in increments of 10 percent. For chronic fatigue syndrome, the VA will assign you either a 10, 20, 40, 60, or 100 percent rating, depending on how incapacitating your chronic fatigue syndrome is. The 2020 payout amounts for those ratings are as follows:
- 10 percent disability rating (waxes and wanes but causes periods of incapacitation of at least one but less than two weeks a year; or controllable by medication)
- 20 percent disability rating (“nearly constant and restricts routine daily activities by less than 25 percent of the pre-illness level” and results in periods of incapacitation of two to four weeks per year)
- 40 percent disability rating (“nearly constant and restricts routine daily activities to 50 to 75 percent of the pre-illness level” or results in periods of incapacitation of at least four but less than six weeks total duration per year)
- 60 percent disability rating (“nearly constant and restricts routine daily activities to less than 50 percent of the pre-illness level” or “which wax and wane, resulting in periods of incapacitation of at least six weeks total duration per year”)
- 100 percent disability rating (“nearly constant and so severe as to restrict routine activities almost completely”)
Note: Incapacitating in this sense means it requires bed rest and medical treatment.
If the VA rates your condition as 30 percent disabling or higher, you can receive additional benefits on behalf of any dependents living at your home, such as your spouse, children, or dependent parents.
How much can I receive in VA disability benefits?
As of December 2020, the VA disability rates are as follows:
- 0 percent disability rating: $0.00 per month
- 10 percent disability rating: $144.14 per month
- 20 percent disability rating: $284.93 per month
- 40 percent disability rating: $635.77 per month
- 60 percent disability rating: $1,146.39 per month
- 100 percent disability rating: $3,146.42 per month
Do I need a lawyer to receive VA disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The law does not require you to have a lawyer to apply for VA disability benefits. However, your chances of a favorable outcome after a denied claim can be higher when you have one, particularly if that attorney has years of experience dealing with the VA.
Dealing with the VA is a trying process, and many veterans receive denials over technicalities even though their condition qualifies them for approval. Our attorneys can minimize the chances of that happening by ensuring the case we put together for you is thorough and compelling. We have helped many veterans win disability benefits, even ones whom the VA had previously denied.
We can put our experience to work for you. We will handle all the details of your case for you so you can focus on your health and your family. Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a free consultation: 401-331-6300.