The SSA does not have a specific Blue Book listing for migraines, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for disability benefits based on chronic migraines. You would be required to show evidence that the migraine is serious enough to hinder your ability for cognitive functioning or your ability to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA.
Most headaches would not qualify for disability benefits. However, if you are among those people who suffer from lengthy episodes of chronic migraines lasting days or even weeks, hindering your cognitive functioning abilities, then you may qualify for disability benefits right away.
Sometimes your impairment for chronic migraines may be related to other underlying or linked causes such as a traumatic brain injury, child abuse, accidents, schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder etc. In this case, the SSA will determine your benefits based on diagnosis of the symptoms that best fit the impairment in the Blue Book listing.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a recurrent headache often accompanied with an aura of 15 – 20 minutes including seeing light flashes, blurred or colored vision associated with nausea, vomiting, dizziness and sensitivity to light, sound, air, or smell. Most commonly, the one sided headaches come in pulsating form, remain on and off and can last anywhere between brief episodes of hours to long episodes from 3 days to weeks.
The marked disorders for cognitive functioning related to chronic migraines may include, but not be limited to
- Disturbances in memory
- Attention deficiency
- Inability to stay focused
- Inhibiting responses
- Poverty of though and speech
- Disturbances of mood
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sleep or too much sleep
To increases your chances of winning the disability benefits, it is best that you visit your doctor regularly and document all of your symptoms related to the episodes of migraine and are able to prove to the SSA examiner that your migraine does indeed, hinder your ability to perform substantial work.
Importance of proving your migraines are disabling
Along with your medical documentation, the SSA would put great emphasis on going through your doctor’s opinions and notes on how your disability turns you disabling. The Disability Examiner will determine the severity and frequency of your disability based on the following:
- Doctor’s Opinions: Reports and medical notes/views/remarks/opinions by the doctor who primarily treats your condition, such as a neurologist, psychoanalyst, pain management specialist, or headache specialist
- Medical Records: Specific documentation of your daily symptoms and migraines, so as to measure the frequency of occurrence, duration, location, and intensity of your migraines as well as their effects on your daily living activities, and
- Prescription Records: Documentation of medications taken and treatments tried, whether successful or unsuccessful, and any side effects you experienced from them.
We suggest, to help your chances of winning disability, keep a migraine diary where you note all the disabling symptoms and conditions during your migraine episodes. Also, make sure to remind your doctor to write notes for each visit, so you may have a better case to present to the ALJ at the hearings appeal if your initial disability application is denied.
You may also consult our disability lawyers for more detailed guidance.