Disability for Migraine Sufferers

As a person that suffers from chronic migraines, I understand all too well how disabling this can be. However, it is not easy to get disability based on migraines alone. Frequently claimants have chronic headaches, which is not the same as migraines. If you are able to take over the counter medicine and have a headache resolve, it is unlikely it reaches the severity of an actual migraine.

There is not a listing for migraines in the SSA rules. The ALJ would have to look at your residual functional capacity, your medical records, and consider your testimony in making a decision. Further, a Q and A by Social Security states “Under our general policy, you cannot establish the existence of any MDI (Medically Determinable Impairment) based solely on a diagnosis in the evidence or on a claimant’s reported symptoms. There must be clinical signs or laboratory findings to support the finding. A diagnosis of migraine headaches requires a detailed description from a physician of a typical headache event (intense headache with more than moderate pain and with associated migraine characteristics and phenomena) that includes a description of all associated phenomena; for example, premonitory symptoms, aura, duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, and effects of treatment.”

Certain things the ALJ will be looking for:

— Emergency room or urgent care visits for migraines that won’t respond to recovery medicines (generally triptan medicines)
— CT Scans or EEG
— preventative meds such as topomax, elavil, depakote, etc.
— headache journal documenting the days you would be unable to work from symptoms or occurences, as well as the time you would be considered “Off task”
— a pattern of headache events

Listing 11.03 for non-convulsive epilepsy is somewhat instructive in how the ALJ will review your migraines. In this Listing it states: 1) Documented by detailed description of a typical headache event pattern 2) Including all associated phenomena (ie: permonitroy symptoms, aura, duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, treatment. 3) occurring more than once weekly and 4) with alteration of awareness and 5) significant interference with activity during the day (ie: need for darkened room, lying down without moving, sleep disturbance that impacts daily activities)

I see many claimants that claim that a pain medication that is for their back or other body part is also being used for their headaches. Narcotics are generally not the first line of defense for migraines, a whole other class of drugs are used. Should you wish to hire me as your attorney, I will review your treatment and medical history to see if it accurately depicts migraines.