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October 17, 2020

VA Migraines Rating Criteria – Top 3 Tips Revealed

Last updated on March 7, 2024

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Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the VA migraines rating criteria with 38 CFR Part 4 as our guide.

We’ll also examine the primary (and confusing) differences between the 30% and 50% VA rating for migraine headaches.

VA ratings for migraines depend upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of symptoms, and more specifically, the “prostrating” nature of the migraine and whether your headaches impact your ability to work.

According to the FY 2020 VBA report to congress, migraines were the #9 most commonly claimed and service connected VA disability condition for new compensation recipients.

Migraine Headaches are in the Top 10 Most Common VA Claims

You might also be interested in the following posts & videos about VA ratings for migraine headaches:

A little-known fact for veteran claimants is that there are over 150 different types of headaches although the most common include Tension Headaches, Migraine Headaches, Cluster Headaches, Sinus Headaches, Post Concussive Headaches, and Post Traumatic Stress Headaches.

4 Main Types of Headaches
4 Main Types of Headaches

For VA rating purposes, ANY type of headache is eligible for a VA rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, or 50% depending upon your medical diagnosis, whether its service connected, and the severity of your headache symptoms.

Okay, now let’s jump into the CFR 38 rating criteria and chart for migraine headaches.

VA Migraines Rating – 38 CFR Criteria

VA Migraines Rating Table
VA Migraines Rating Table

Migraine headaches are evaluated and rated under 38 CFR § 4.124a, Miscellaneous Diseases, Diagnostic Code (DC) 8100.

Accordingly, the DC 8100 Migraines VA Rating Criteria is as follows:

  • 50 percent VA rating for migraines is warranted with very frequent, completely prostrating, and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.
  • 30 percent VA migraines rating is warranted with characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month, over the preceding several months.
  • 10 percent VA disability rating for migraines is warranted with characteristic prostrating attacks averaging once per two months, over the preceding several months.
  • 0 percent migraines VA rating is warranted with less frequent attacks than the 10 percent rating criteria.

Migraines VA Rating Chart from 0% to 50%

DC 8100, VA Migraines Rating Criteria:Rating (%)
Migraine headaches with very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability50%
Migraine headaches with characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over last several months30%
Migraine headaches with characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over last several months10%
Migraine headaches with less frequent attacks0%

What the Heck is a “Prostrating” Migraine Headache?

Prostrating Migraine Headache Example
Prostrating Migraine Headache Example

Note that neither the rating schedule nor the courts have ever defined the term “prostrating” migraine.

So, what the heck does it mean?

The best definition we could find for “Prostrating” comes from

“To lay oneself flat on the ground face downward, especially in reverence or submission.”

Prostrating can be further defined as weakness, fatigue, distress, exhaustion, illness, or functional loss, for example:

“To reduce (someone) to extreme physical weakness.”

What Does “Severe Economic Inadaptability” Mean?

The term “severe economic inadaptability” is also not defined in VA law.

What’s particularly important to note is that the Courts have held that nothing in DC 8100 requires that the claimant be completely unable to work to qualify for a 50 percent rating for migraines.

In this regard, it was explained by the Court that if “economic inadaptability” were read to import unemployability, a claimant would be eligible for extra-scheduler TDIU claim rather than just a 50 percent rating.  

The Court has discussed the notion that consideration must also be given as to whether the disability could produce severe economic inadaptability, regardless of whether the condition was actually causing such inadaptability.

In this regard, VA conceded that the words “productive of” could be read to mean either “producing” or “capable of producing.” 

30 Percent VA Rating for Migraines Criteria

At the 30% VA rating for Migraines, the law lists headaches “with characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over last several months.”

Note the keyword of “prostrating,” meaning you’ve had to lay down or been reduced to extreme physical weakness.

You can also see that the 30% rating has prostrating attacks that occur roughly one time per month over the past several months.

There is NO mention of any functional or economic loss—this is very important to understand!

Thus, if your migraine headaches do NOT affect your ability to work, you probably don’t meet the 50% rating criteria.

50 Percent VA Rating for Migraines Criteria

At the 50% rating, the law describes headaches “with very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.”

Note the keywords of “very frequent completely prostrating,” meaning you’ve had to lie down more often, and the Migraine headaches could last for extended periods of time.

You might have also noticed that the 50% rating introduces the concept of “severe economic inadaptability.”

Again, the term “inadaptability” has NEVER been defined by the courts, nor can a definition be found anywhere in 38 CFR.

We do know, however, that the term “severe economic inadaptability” refers to a veteran’s inability to work, but NOTHING in the rating criteria requires that a veteran be completely unable to work in order to qualify for a 50% rating.

Therefore, a veteran can qualify for a 50 percent VA rating for Migraines and still be working or able to work.

For example, perhaps you have severe Migraines on a weekly basis, and you’ve used all your sick leave at work and it’s now affecting your ability to produce and earn a living, but you’re still working.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen C&P examiners and VA Raters get this wrong ALL THE TIME!

You might actually qualify for the 50% rating, but are stuck at either 10% or 30%.

WATCH NOW: How to Get a 50% VA Disability Rating for Migraine Headaches

Do You Need Help with Your VA Claim for Migraines?

At VA Claims Insider, we can help you win, service connect, and get the highest rating possible for your migraine headaches.

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About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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