Migraine headaches can be extremely debilitating, and their unpredictable nature can make it difficult for sufferers to know when they’ll strike and for how long they’ll last, disrupting their daily activities and work. The causes of migraines are varied and can be attributed to environmental, psychological, and physical factors.
Unfortunately, veterans are at an increased risk of developing migraines, with studies showing that up to 36% of veterans who completed a 12-month deployment in Iraq were later diagnosed with or exhibited symptoms of migraines, compared to only 12% of the general population.
Given the documented increase in migraines among veterans, it’s reasonable to assume that VA disability benefits should apply to this condition. However, it can be frustrating to learn that your claim for VA disability benefits for migraines has been denied.
Did the VA Deny Your Migraine Headache Claim?
If your claim for VA disability benefits based on migraine headache symptoms was denied, you may have concerns about the decision and your next steps. Unlike some injuries and conditions that are clearly service-related, filing a claim for migraines can be more complex.
To be eligible for a VA disability rating for migraines, you must demonstrate that your symptoms are associated with a diagnosed condition that is service-connected. This may require additional steps during the diagnosis process.
Migraine Headaches and VA Disability Rating
It’s important to understand how the VA views migraine headaches and the rating system that it associates with them.
Let’s take a look at how it currently breaks down:
- The VA rates migraine headaches on a scale of 0-50% disability, based on the severity and frequency of symptoms.
- The disability rating is not automatic and requires proof that the condition is service-related.
- The different disability ratings for migraine headaches are:
- 0% Disability Rating: occasional migraines or non-prostrating symptoms
- 10% Disability Rating: prostrating attacks occurring every 2 months on average
- 30% Disability Rating: prostrating attacks occurring once a month on average
- 50% Disability Rating: frequent, completely prostrating, and prolonged attacks resulting in severe economic inadaptability.
- The terms used in the disability rating are not clearly defined and have been subject to litigation.
- The criteria for the highest disability rating include:
- The necessity of Prostration: migraines that require the sufferer to lie down in a dark room for the duration of the prostrating attack
- Prolonged Period of Symptoms: the subjective length of the individual migraine attack period
- Severe Economic Inadaptability: migraines that cause the sufferer to miss work more than one day per month.
How Do You Establish a Service Connection to Migraine Headaches?
If you are a veteran who suffers from severe migraines, establishing a service connection for your condition can be challenging. However, it is possible by following certain parameters. The first step is to obtain a thorough and meaningful diagnosis for your condition and document the duration, severity, and impact of your symptoms.
To establish a connection between your migraines and your service, you may need to identify a service-related incident such as a TBI or concussion that led to the onset of your symptoms. Additionally, migraines can be linked to other diagnosed conditions like TBI, mental health, tinnitus, or musculoskeletal injury, which can strengthen your claim.
If you have questions about whether your migraines are related to your active duty service or a service-connected condition, it is advisable to speak with a VA-accredited attorney to explore the potential of obtaining a medical nexus opinion. If you have been denied a claim for migraines, our team can help. Get in touch with us today for assistance with your claim.
If you need help with your migraine headaches claim or have been denied by the VA for a migraine claim, get in touch with us today.