Disability For Chronic Migraines

A migraine is a severe headache that often causes debilitating pain.  Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a listing specific for migraine headaches, you can qualify for disability benefits if your headaches are severe and impact your level of functioning to the point you cannot work.   Migraines are often accompanied or preceded by:

  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness
  • Uncontrollable yawning

As migraines are subjective and cannot be detected by standard medical tests, you should document the migraines you have, noting the frequency, severity and intensity.  A good way to document your headaches is to keep a headache diary.  This diary will not only assist you with your application for disability benefits or potential hearing, but may also assist your physician in treating you.

In addition, your medical records should document your condition.  The records should describe your migraines and should include indicators such as premonitory symptoms, aura, duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, and effects of treatment. Other acceptable indicators include a headache event that lasts from 4 to 72 hours if untreated or unsuccessfully treated, with two of the following: unilateral, pulsating (throbbing) quality; moderate (inhibits but does not wholly prevent usual activity) or severe (prevents all activity) pain intensity, worsened by routine physical activity (or causing avoidance of activity); and at least one of the following: nausea, vomiting, photophobia or phonophobia.

To qualify for disability benefits with migraine headaches, the headaches must be severe and cause limitations that affect your ability to work.  For example, if your headaches causes dizziness, affect your concentration, or cause you to miss work, you may qualify for benefits.  The Social Security Administration will take these and many other limitations into consideration when examining your case.