Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability with Chronic Migraine?

Woman With Migraine Closing Eyes and Holding Face

By Lori B. Painter, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, a dedicated time for healthcare providers, patient advocates, and the migraine community to stand up and speak out for migraine recognition and treatment.

So, what is a migraine?

According to Healthline, a migraine is a neurological condition that can cause multiple symptoms that can last for several days and affect one’s ability to work. It’s frequently characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines often run in families and affect all ages, and women are more likely to have migraines than men.

Why do I get migraines?

Doctors are not sure what exactly causes migraines. Some research suggests that migraines can have a heredity factor meaning they run in families. Studies show that if one of your parents has migraines you have a 50% chance of having migraines.

I am missing work due to my frequent migraines. Can I get social security disability for chronic migraines?

Migraine's pain and symptoms can come on fast with no warning. They can ruin your days or even your week. They can cause you to feel that you have no control of your life.

If chronic migraines are affecting your ability to work you can file a claim for social security disability benefits. You must be able to show that you are unable to work for at least 12 months. Under social security listings, there is no specific listing for migraines. Migraines can be symptoms of other health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression, heart disease, anxiety, and epilepsy.

Social security will also look at the limitation on activities that migraines cause. Such as, do the migraines cause you to miss numerous days from work including coming in late and leaving early? Do the migraines cause you to be off-task and is it difficult to maintain focus? Social security will take into consideration the frequency and duration of the migraines and any side effects from medication. It is important to have detailed medical records supporting your migraine diagnosis and treatment.

How to apply for social security with chronic migraines?

If you believe your chronic migraine makes it difficult or impossible for you to work, consult with the attorneys at Metzger Wickersham to see if you are eligible for social security disability. We will answer your questions and provide legal advice during a no-cost case evaluation. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or email us to schedule your free consultation today.

  • What Are Migraine Triggers?

    According to Mayo Clinic, there are numerous triggers, including:

    • Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen, such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause, seem to trigger headaches in many women. Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, also can worsen migraines. Some women, however, find their migraines occurring less often when taking these medications.
    • Drinks. These include alcohol, especially wine, and too much caffeine, such as coffee.
    • Stress. Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
    • Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke, and others — trigger migraines in some people.
    • Sleep changes. Missing sleep, getting too much sleep or jet lag can trigger migraines in some people.
    • Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, might provoke migraines.
    • Weather changes. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
    • Medications. Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.
    • Foods. Aged cheeses and salty and processed foods might trigger migraines. So might skipping meals or fasting.
    • Food additives. These include the sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many foods.
  • How Can I Prevent Migraine Attacks?

    With a migraine, one of the best things you can do is learn your personal triggers that bring on the pain. The first step is to track your migraine symptoms in a diary to learn your common triggers. WebMD suggests seven steps to avoid triggers:

    • Watch what you eat and drink.
    • Eat regularly. Don't skip meals.
    • Curb the caffeine. Too much, in any food or drink, can cause migraines. But cutting back suddenly may also cause them. So try to slowly ease off caffeine if it seems to be one of your headache triggers.
    • Be careful with exercise. Everyone needs regular physical activity. It's a key part of being healthy. But it can trigger headaches for some people. Ask your doctor what would help.
    • Get regular shut-eye. If your sleep habits get thrown off, or if you're very tired, that can make a migraine more likely.
    • Decrease your stress. There are many ways to do it. You could exercise, meditate, pray, spend time with people you love, and do things you enjoy. If you can change some of the things that make you tense, set up a plan for that. Counseling and stress management classes are great to try, too.
    • Keep up your energy. Eat on a regular schedule, and don't let yourself get dehydrated.
  • How To Manage Migraines?

    At the first sign of a migraine, Mayo Clinic suggests that you retreat from your usual activities if possible.

    • Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
    • Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
    • Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin. Be careful, however. Drinking too much caffeine too often can lead to withdrawal headaches later on.

    About the Author: Lori B. Painter

    Social Security Disability Attorney Lori B. PainterLori B. Painter is a highly sought after and skilled Social Security disability attorney serving all of Pennsylvania. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the firm and makes it her primary goal to provide compassionate, yet aggressive legal representation to each client she represents. With extensive experience helping disabled individuals through the Social Security disability process, you can trust your case into her hands.