A study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 25.5% of the men and women in the 18-to-44 age group acknowledged experiencing a migraine within three months preceding the study. Although there are many causes of migraines in general, when the cause is related to military service, a veteran may be entitled to disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA assigns a disability rating to any service-related medical or mental health condition based on its severity. The disability rating determines the compensation paid to a veteran for the impaired earning capacity caused by the condition.
If you served in the military and experience severe headaches, you may be eligible for a VA disability for migraines. The disability lawyers at NY Disability strive to help veterans receive the maximum disability for migraines, which is a VA rating of 50%. The following information explains how the VA disability ratings work with regard to severe headaches related to military service.
How do VA disability ratings work?
The VA assigns a disability rating, which is represented as a percentage, that it determines based on the severity of a disability. The percentage represents the extent to which your health and earning ability are affected by your disability. It determines how much you receive each month in benefits from the VA.
The VA determines your disability rating based the following:
- Results of your compensation and pension exam.
- Medical records that you provide to the VA, including results of clinical examinations, medical tests, and reports from your physician.
- Information obtained by the VA from sources, including federal agencies, related to your physical or mental health condition.
There is a maximum rating of 50% VA disability for migraines. You may have more than one disability, so the VA assigns a combined disability rating when that occurs. The combined rating is calculated by the VA, but it does not merely add up all of the ratings to arrive at a combined rating. Ask your disability lawyer at NY Disability for additional information about VA combined disability ratings if it applies to your claim.
Sometimes, military service does not cause a new disabling condition. Instead, it aggravates a condition that you had prior to entering the military. The VA disability rating assigned to the condition will reflect the percentage of disability the condition caused at the time you entered the military. For example, if you entered the military with a condition assigned a 10% disability that increased to a 15% rating as a result of your service, there would be a service-related aggravation of 5%.
Service-related causes of migraines
Researchers have yet to identify the cause of changes in brain activity that result in some people experiencing severe and debilitating headaches. Some of the triggers generally suggested as causing a migraine include:
- Extreme exercise
- Bright lights
- Loud noise
- Some types of medications
Military service exposes veterans to concussions and traumatic brain injuries through falls, explosions and other violent incidents along with exposure to toxic chemicals and substances that may trigger migraines. Migraines may be related to other disabling conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The VA criteria for determining the disability rating for someone filing a claim based on service-related migraine headaches focuses on the frequency of the headaches. To qualify for the 50% VA disability rating, you must have migraines that occur very frequently, which would be multiple times a month. They also must be severe.
The VA refers to “completely prostrating’ with regard to migraine headaches, which means that you are bedridden while experiencing a migraine. In order to get a 50% VA disability for migraines, they must be very frequent, completely prostrating, and be “prolonged” or lasting for an extended period of time.
How does the VA compare to Social Security disability for migraines?
Disabled adults applying for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment lasting for at least 12 months or expected to cause death that results in a person being unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. To help examiners determine whether a person is disabled, Social Security maintains a Listing of Impairments with common medical conditions that demonstrate that a person is disabled.
Migraines are not a listed condition, so to qualify for SSI benefits or for SSD benefits, you must prove that your condition prevents you from working and earning a living and is expected to be permanent. What you need to prove to get SSD benefits is similar to the proof required to get a 50% VA disability rating in that you must prove frequency, duration and severity.
Maintaining a diary or journal can help you prove your entitlement to benefits. Use it to write down the date, time and severity of a migraine, including how long it lasts. An SSI lawyer or VA disability lawyer can advice you about what to do and how to do it.
Help with SSD benefits and VA disability benefits for migraines
Whether you need an SSD lawyer to assist with Social Security disability benefits or a lawyer experienced in representing veterans with VA disability claims, you will find the help you need at NY Disability. Contact them today for a free consultation.