Migraines and Social Security Disability Benefits

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Social Security Disability Benefits for Migraines and Headaches

Living with migraines or chronic, severe headaches can be extremely challenging, impacting the quality of a person’s life and their ability to function. Millions of people are unable to live comfortably, socialize, and work due to migraines, and Social Security Disability benefits may be available to reduce the burden. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we work diligently to secure disability benefits for individuals who suffer from migraines and headaches. To learn more about headaches and Social Security Disability benefits for these disorders, consider contacting our Toledo office at (419) 350-8277 today. 

Suffering From Headaches and Migraines: Symptoms & Experiences

Suffering from migraines can be debilitating, leaving a person unable to complete normal daily activities. Characterized by an acute, throbbing pain on one side of the head, this neurological condition can greatly impact a person’s ability to work, socialize, and function. This is primarily due to the fact that migraines often worsen with physical activity, lights, or sounds. Migraines can last for hours or even days and often occur multiple times in a month. 

Migraines affect every person differently, and every person can experience a wide range in the severity of their migraines. For some, migraines progress through specific stages, each with unique symptoms. These stages include:

  • Prodrome: during the hours or days before a migraine, many people experience sensitivity to light, smell, and sound, fatigue, food cravings, mood changes, lack of appetite, and/or constipation or diarrhea.
  • Aura: typically occurring in the minutes immediately before a migraine, the aura phase can be characterized by minor hallucinations, tunnel vision, tingling or numbness of one side of the body, and/or a ringing in the ears. 
  • Headache: lasting anywhere from 4 to 72 hours on average, the headache phase is when the migraine attacks. Often beginning as a dull ache, the headache can quickly develop into a pulsating, throbbing pain. The vast majority of people experience nausea alongside the migraine.
  • Postdrome: in the period after the headache, many people feel tired or, alternatively, euphoria, and may experience muscle pain or weakness. 

The World Health Organization reports that migraines are the sixth most disabling illness in the world. In fact, approximately 12% of Americans suffer from genetic migraines. Headache disorders are painful and can affect your quality of life, finances, and social interactions. Many people are left disabled due to migraines, and Social Security Disability benefits may be available to ease the financial burden they cause.

Can I Get Social Security Disability for Migraines?

Given the debilitating nature of headache disorders, many people are unable to work when a migraine ensues. This can impact their job performance and income, preventing them from performing work activities as usual. For this reason, many people wonder whether it is possible to get Social Security Disability for migraines. 

If you experience chronic migraines, filing for disability benefits may be a good option for you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of qualifying conditions that make a person eligible for disability benefits, called the Blue Book. While migraines are not explicitly listed in the Blue Book, they may be symptoms of other underlying conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. 

There are specific requirements to securing Social Security disability, and migraines can potentially be enough to render your disabled. You are unlikely to receive Social Security Disability benefits if you suffer from occasional migraine attacks. To be considered eligible for benefits, you must be able to prove that:

  • Have chronic migraines that are reasonably expected to persist for longer than one year
  • You are unable to perform regular work activities 
  • Adjusting to a new type of work is unlikely
  • You have earned enough work credits in a job covered by Social Security

When submitting an application for disability benefits, you will be required to submit evidence to prove these four criteria. Since migraines, headaches, and other pain are easily considered subjective, evidence of regular migraine treatment with a medical provider will be imperative in such scenarios. If you are able to provide sufficient medical documentation to support your claim, you may be able to successfully obtain Social Security Disability benefits. 

How Does the Social Security Administration Classify Migraines for Disability Benefits

While migraines are not specifically listed by the Social Security Administration in the list of qualifying disorders, the SSA has issued a policy for evaluating cases involving primary headache disorder. The SSA defines primary headache disorders as chronic headache illnesses that are typically severe enough to necessitate prescribed medication and occasionally warrant emergency room visits. Migraines, tension-type headaches, and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias are all considered primary headache disorders. Therefore, migraines are classified as primary headache disorders for the purposes of disability benefits.

To be considered disabled, your condition must be listed in the SSA’s Blue Book or be medically equivalent to a listed condition. While it may not be simple to prove, primary headache disorder could be considered to medically equal a listing. Migraines can also be a symptom of other listed conditions, however, such as: 

  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke 
  • High blood pressure
  • Fibromyalgia
  • PTSD
  • Depression or anxiety

Migraines can be classified in several different ways when applying for Social Security Disability benefits depending on the unique circumstances of your case. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we work closely with individuals suffering from persistent migraines to build the strongest Social Security Disability application possible, using a range of strategies to secure benefits. 

What Should You Do If Your Migraine or Headache Social Security Disability Application Was Denied?

On average, you are more likely to have your Social Security Disability application denied than approved, regardless of medical condition. If you suffer from chronic migraines or headaches and your Social Security Disability application was denied, it is possible to appeal the decision. Your appeal should include new evidence to support your claim. It should be noted that all appeals must be filed within 60 days of receiving your denial. 

Contact Schaffer & Associates LPA Today

For many individuals suffering from migraines and chronic headaches, completing normal work activities is nearly impossible. Fortunately, securing Social Security Disability benefits to offset the financial burden of these conditions may be possible. The application process for migraines and Social Security Disability benefits is not straightforward, however, and many claims are denied due to a lack of sufficient evidence. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, we have spent years navigating this process and understand the strict evidence requirements of the Social Security Administration. To begin the process of securing benefits, consider scheduling a consultation with our office at (419) 350-8277 today.