Getting Disability benefits for partial headaches or migraines is difficult but not impossible. Migraine headaches are neurological disorders that are often localized in only one part of the head. It is categorized by a throbbing or pulsating pain, accompanied with dizziness, nausea, vomiting, seeing flashing lights, loss of appetite, disturbed sleeping patterns etc. More often, people experiencing migraines become sensitive to light, sound and air and are unable to perform cognitive functioning.
While the effects for migraines can last anywhere between 3 hours to weeks, it is often recurring, sometimes with warning symptoms such as seeing 'flashing stars' or 'inhibition to hold thoughts'.
Qualifying for Disability based on Migraines
While occasional headaches may often be categorized as mild inconveniences, localized migraines are actually worse and have been shown to affect a person's cognitive functioning up to certain levels. Moreover, medications to treat the migraines can make it even more difficult to perform cognitive or adaptive functioning properly, mainly due to drowsiness and dizziness that come as side effects.
The SSA is aware of the effects of severe chronic migraines on your ability to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA. However, you would be required to show evidence that your suffering arising from the migraines is severe enough to impact your ability to perform work under SGA or is affecting your Residual Functioning Capacity, RFC.
The symptoms and behavior of people with severe chronic migraines are often due to an underlying anxiety disorder, ADHD or accidental trauma to the brain. The true scientific cause behind migraines is still unknown, however, there are some triggers that could result in recurrence of the localized headaches. Here's is a list of measurements/analysis the doctor's notes or your medical notes could imply as reasons for affecting your cognitive functioning:
- -Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks at hand
- -Hyper vigilance
- -Muscle tension or hypertension
- -Sleep disturbance or Insomnia
- -Fatigue or unable to take work stress
- -Panic attacks or fear of the unknown
- -Constant thoughts and fears about safety
When you apply for disability, the SSA determines the amount of work you could apply in any types of employment, even if you are not performing any such work currently. The Residual Functional Capacity is SSA's measurement of other types of work you could be able to perform that do not necessarily affect your condition. If the SSA examiner determines that you are able to perform substantial work in another niche, your disability claims would be denied.
Vocational Factors for Disability
When analyzing for disability, the SSA will determine your age, education, type of employment in addition to the limitations caused by your condition.
Medical Factors for Disability
It is necessary that you have obtained help or treatment from a qualified doctor to treat your migraines, prior to your disability claims. Although there is no sure fire way to 'diagnose' migraines, doctor's do perform MRI or CT Scans to rule out other reasons for headaches. It is important that you keep all of those records ready to be presented to the SSA, in addition to the following:
- -Doctor's notes related to the subsequent visits regarding the severity and frequency of your migraines
- -Results of any tests done to rule out other conditions responsible for the disability
- -Prescription records and any other treatments tried, and their outcomes/effects
- -Records from any specialized ER visits/hospitalization from your doctor, psychotherapist or headache specialist
In addition to the above, the SSA may also ask your doctor or physician to fill out all the details in a given form regarding your symptoms and conditions.
Applying for Disability for Migraines
You can apply directly using the online application on the SSA website, or contact our disability advocates to guide you through the process step-by-step.