Anyone who has ever had a migraine headache knows that they are not to be taken lightly. Migraines can be severely debilitating for the person suffering from them, causing intense pain and other effects such as nausea or even temporary blindness. Gaining VA benefits for migraines doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what you are looking for!
Veterans with Migraines
Migraines occur due to the swelling of the blood vessels in the brain. In comparison to other headaches, they are known for being more severe and impacting your ability to work or function in daily tasks.
Migraines often occur in four phases and can last for hours or sometimes days. Many will experience warning signs before the migraine arrives.
The phases of migraines are:
- Prodome: Often occurring well before the full attack. Symptoms include mood changes, food cravings, frequent yawning, neck stiffness, and increased thirst or urination.
- Aura: Still preceding the migraine, this phase may include seeing flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the body, hearing noises, weakness of muscles, or a very specific kind of headache.
- Migraine: The third phase is the actual migraine. It can last up to 72 hours and may include severe head pain, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light, dizziness and fainting spells.
- Post-Drome- The after-effects of the migraine may include feeling wiped out, moodiness, confusion, or continued sensitivity to light or sound.
If you are a veteran and have experienced migraines since your time in service, you are not alone. Claims filed for disability compensation for service-connected migraine headaches have recently ranked as high as 8th out of all claims made to the VA.
A study by the NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information) suggests that approximately 36% of those returning from Iraq have regularly experienced migraine headaches. Along with the migraines, 20% of those veterans have shown symptoms of anxiety, 50% depression, and 40% PTSD. All of those conditions have been linked to migraines at some point, despite the clear cause of the headaches remaining unknown.
VA Ratings for Migraines
The VA rates migraines under code 38 CFR § 4.124a, Diagnostic code 8100. They are rated according to severity and frequency. Under this code the ratings are as follows:
- 0% – Migraines are less frequent, every 3 months or less, and are prostrating*
- 10%- Attacks are regularly occurring every 1 to 2 months and are prostrating
- 30%- Prostrating attacks occur monthly on average
- 50%- Very severe prostrating attacks are frequent to the point of regularly impacting your ability to work
In order to receive a disability rating from the VA, you must first have a diagnosis from a medical professional. Proof of service connection can be achieved by presenting the records of treatment while in service. However, if those records don’t exist, it may be possible to prove the service connection by showing proof of exposure to extremely loud noises, burn pits, or being in close range of explosions. Using different forms of lay evidence is your BEST chance at getting something as difficult as migraines service-connected.
If you are continually dealing with migraines, download the Migraine Buddy app from the app store! This is a perfect way to track everything about your symptoms and be able to show the doctor exactly what you are dealing with.
Furthermore, if you’ve received a 50% rating for your migraine condition, it may be possible to also receive total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). This benefit is paid at 100% and is reserved for veterans who are unable to secure and maintain gainful employment.
Because there is some overlap between the 50% rating afforded migraines and the TDIU eligibility requirements, veterans can use that evaluation as evidence to support their TDIU claim.
If you’ve been suffering from migraines be sure to file your claim with the VA. Migraines can be extremely debilitating and you deserve to be compensated if your condition began in, or was worsened by, your time in service.
*Prostrating refers to the need to lay down when suffering a migraine until it passes
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