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Can I Obtain Social Security Disability for Chronic Migraine Headaches?

woman suffering from headacheMany people can work with a headache, particularly if an over-the-counter medication helps them get the pain under control. However, migraine headaches are not like regular headaches. Victims can experience nausea, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, throbbing pain and other symptoms.

Symptoms of a migraine could last anywhere from four to 72 hours, and victims are often unable to work during that time, which can make holding down a job all but impossible.

If you are suffering from chronic migraine headaches that prevent you from working and engaging in everyday activities, you may have thought about applying for disability benefits. Your loved ones may have brought up the idea because they have seen how debilitating your headaches can be.

The good news is some chronic migraine sufferers may be eligible for Social Security Disability. If you have regular migraines that cause you to miss work and make it difficult to maintain employment, the experienced attorneys at Schmidt Kramer may be able to help you seek benefits.

Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. We can determine if you may be eligible for benefits and discuss how we are prepared to help you recover those benefits.

How Migraines Can Impact Someone’s Work and Home Life

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 90 percent of migraine sufferers find it nearly impossible to work, or work the same number of hours, when they are experiencing a headache. The pain, distorted vision and sensitivity to sound make it nearly impossible to concentrate. Some migraine sufferers experience numbness or tingling, making it hard to do thing with their hands.

When most people think about a headache, they think of a dull ache that lasts a few hours. The ache could be quite bothersome, but you may still be able to do most of the things you would normally do. However, the pain that often comes with a migraine is much worse. Sufferers have often described it as like having an icepick in your head. This can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

However, the headache phase of a migraine is preceded by the aura phase, which can last a few minutes or up to an hour. The aura phase is when sufferers experience symptoms like:

  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Wavy or jagged lines in your vision
  • Numbness or tingling
  • See bright flashes of light
  • Seeing sparkles or lights
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes in speech, such as slurred speech

These symptoms signal that a migraine is about to start. Unfortunately, some people continue to experience these symptoms throughout the headache phase of a migraine.

The last stage of a migraine is called the postdrome stage and it could last for a couple days. It can be thought of as a migraine hangover. Sufferers could still feel sore from the headache pain they were experiencing. They may also feel fatigued and have trouble concentrating.

Unfortunately, approximately 14 million Americans suffer migraine symptoms like these on an almost daily basis, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

Financial Costs

According to the Job Accommodation Network, about 157 million workdays are lost each year because of migraine headaches. This could include those in the postdrome stage of a migraine who cannot go back to work yet.

Migraines can not only make it difficult to hold down a job, but also can make it much harder to care for yourself, your home, your pets and your family. This can affect others in your life, who may need to take days off from work to try to take care of you or handle some of your responsibilities that you are unable to handle.

It is important to note migraines typically affect those between the ages of 25 and 55, which can be thought of as some of your most productive years, particularly in your career.

Managing migraines is also expensive because of the medical costs. They often need to be diagnosed with an MRI, which can cost thousands of dollars. Sufferers may also need prescription medication to help reduce the frequency of headaches and/or reduce their severity. On average, migraine sufferers may spend more than $160 each month for just one migraine medication, according to The American Journal of Managed Care.

Challenges of Getting Approved for Benefits

Chronic migraines are not listed in the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book, which lists the conditions that may qualify for disability benefits. However, you may still be able to get approved if you can prove your condition is so severe it prevents you from working.

You may also be able to show your migraines are a symptom of another serious injury, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Meningitis
  • High intracranial pressure
  • Low intracranial pressure
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain or a stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • High blood pressure

If you can prove your symptoms equate with the criteria for another listing in the Blue Book, you may be approved for benefits. You will need significant evidence of the severity of your symptoms.

Evidence for a Disability Claim for Migraines

The SSA will need to review several factors to determine if you may be eligible for benefits:

  • Daily limitations
  • Frequency and severity of migraine headaches
  • Employment options (are there other jobs you can do besides the one you currently do, etc.)

You will need to provide proof of how often you miss work because of your migraine headaches. That means you will need records from your employer about days you missed work because of headaches. You may want to send emails telling your employer you cannot work because of a migraine so it will be documented in writing.

Medical Evidence

You will need records detailing the symptoms you experience, including their severity, intensity, duration and frequency. If your records show frequent updates about migraines, it may help strengthen your application. It is important to keep your doctors updated on migraine episodes and provide details.

Observations and opinions from your doctors can also be very helpful in validating an application for disability benefits. For example, statements from neurologists, pain management specialists and/or other doctors you regularly see, could be crucial to the success of your application.

You should also keep records of the prescriptions you take to manage your migraines and other treatments you have sought. Even unsuccessful treatments should be included with your application. Showing you have tried to deal with the headaches and been unsuccessful may help show the severity of your situation.

Call Schmidt Kramer Today for Legal Help

Our experienced Harrisburg Social Security Disability lawyers understand how difficult everyday life can be with a disability. We have helped many people with disabilities recover benefits to help support themselves and their family.

We understand the process can seem overwhelming, and applicants may not think they have a good chance of getting benefits because many applications are denied. However, your odds may be much better with a licensed attorney representing you.

We are prepared to manage the process on your behalf, using our knowledge and experience to help us obtain the evidence we need to validate your application.

Call today to learn more. No upfront fees. Call (717) 727-1837.