Migraines

Living with chronic migraines can make it difficult or impossible for a person to work. When a disabling condition keeps a person from earning an income, social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits may be available.

What are Migraines?

Migraines are severe headaches that may be experienced in three different stages. Before the pain of a migraine starts, sufferers may experience a visual aura. This aura is defined as a disturbance in the visual field. Auras may also be non-visual and can include sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting or a tingling sensation throughout the body.

The pain of a migraine may last for a few minutes or hours. After the pain subsides, some people experience a stage known as postdrome. The most prominent symptom of this stage is marked physical and mental fatigue.

It is estimated that 12 percent of adults in the United States suffer from migraines. However, many of these sufferers experience only occasional migraines that do not interfere with daily activities on a regular basis. People who suffer from chronic migraines will experience these severe headaches often enough to make it difficult to complete routine activities like maintaining social relationships and completing work activities.

Triggers may lead to chronic migraines. One of the most common triggers is stress. Other causes of migraines include caffeine and certain types of foods. If a person is able to identify his or her trigger, migraine frequency may be controlled. However, it is possible for migraines to have no discernible cause. In this case, medications will be prescribed to either lessen the frequency of migraines or prevent the headaches from progressing when early symptoms are experienced.

Some chronic migraine sufferers do not respond to medications. These individuals experience uncontrolled migraines that can significantly reduce their ability to interact with others and complete job tasks.

What is SSDI?

SSDI is an insurance program that is intended to benefit people who are unable to work due to disability. The program is funded through paycheck deductions, and money remitted to the federal government is managed and paid out by the Social Security Administration (SSA). People who apply for SSDI benefits must prove that their disability is severe enough to make it impossible for them to work in any position for which they are qualified.

SSDI benefits are available to people who have worked in the past. Part of the application process is providing the SSA with work history. This information will be evaluated to determine whether a person has enough work history to qualify for benefits, and the SSA will also use the information to see if an applicant is qualified to work in a less demanding position.

Getting SSDI for Migraines

While the SSA does not list chronic migraines as a recognized disability, it is still possible to receive benefits for the condition in certain instances. Medical evidence is the most important part of the application in the case of migraines. A medical provider must record complaints of symptoms, treatment options that have been used and whether these treatment options have provided any relief.

A residual functional capacity (RFC) test may also be performed. This test is used to determine whether the complications and symptoms of a condition limit a person’s physical and mental abilities enough to make working impossible. The SSA will evaluate a person’s work and academic history to determine whether a different job could allow an applicant to continue to work in spite of the disabling condition.

Proving that chronic migraines exist may be difficult. The best way to do so is to schedule appointments with a neurologist who can diagnose the headaches and maintain a thorough record of symptoms, tests and treatments that have been utilized.

Getting Help from an Attorney

Going through the process of applying for SSDI benefits alone can be overwhelming and frustrating. People who are suffering from chronic migraines that are not controlled through common treatment methods may be unable to gather and file paperwork without assistance. Fortunately, SSDI attorneys are able to help people navigate through the application process in order to give disabled individuals their best chance of being approved for benefits. When SSDI benefits are needed to make ends meet, it is important to consult with an experienced legal professional.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.