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VA Rating for Migraines

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Migraines are a debilitating neurological condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Characterized by intense throbbing headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, and in some cases, nausea and vomiting, migraines can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Despite their prevalence, the causes of migraines remain largely unclear, and finding effective treatment options can be a challenge.

Has the VA denied your claim for migraine headaches?

In order to qualify for VA compensation for migraines, you must convince the VA that you have severe headaches and that they headaches are service-connected. The two most common reasons these claims are denied if that a veteran is not able to show a proper medical diagnosis or that the migraines are not related to their military service. 

If your claim has been denied, we are here to help. Having a trusted accredited VA lawyer by your side can make the appeals process much easier to navigate.

How Does the VA Rating for Migraines Work?

The VA ratings for migraine headaches is covered under Diagnostic Code 8100. The maximum rating is only 50%.

Here are the disability ratings for migraines according to the Department of Veterans Affairs:

VA RatingDescription
0%With less frequent attacks
10%With characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over the last several months
30%With characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over the last several months
50%With very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability

What is a prostrating attack?

A prostrating attack generally means that the headache causes physical weakness and exhaustion that requires the veteran to stop all activity and rest or lay down for extended periods of time. The veteran may also need to take medication or seek medical treatment. The VA specifically defines a prostrating attack as one “causing extreme exhaustion, powerlessness, debilitation or incapacitation with substantial inability to engage in ordinary activities” and a completely prostrating attack as causing “extreme exhaustion or powerlessness with inability to engage in ordinary activities.”

TDIU for Migraine Headaches

If you suffer migraines that leave you bedridden, and these incidents last significant amounts of time, you may qualify for TDIU benefits. The primary concern regarding the severity of your condition is if you can maintain employment. Frequent episodes of these painful headaches leave many veterans unable to continue working. As mentioned above, the maximum VA rating for migraines is only 50% which alone will not fully compensate a veteran who cannot work due to migraines.

This is just one reason why any supporting documentation you submit from your primary care doctor, co-workers, and supervisors attest to your migraine issues is helpful. They give a clear picture to the VA about how your health problem has interfered with your ability to work or maintain your job.

What are Migraine Headaches?

It is not unusual for a veteran to suffer from headaches but not to recognize that they are actually having a migraine attack. Migraines are not just ordinary headaches. They are a complex neurological disorder with a multifaceted set of symptoms. The exact cause of migraines is still not fully understood, but genetics, environmental factors, and certain triggers are believed to play a role. The main features of migraines include:

  1. Aura: Some individuals may experience an “aura” before the onset of a migraine, which consists of visual disturbances, such as flashing lights or blind spots. However, not all migraine sufferers experience auras.

  2. Headache: The hallmark symptom of migraines is the severe, pulsating headache that can last for hours or even days. The pain is usually localized on one side of the head but can spread to both sides.

  3. Sensory Sensitivity: People with migraines often become sensitive to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia), which can exacerbate their discomfort.

  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Many migraineurs experience nausea and vomiting during an episode, making it even more challenging to cope with the condition.

Diagnosing Migraines

Diagnosing migraines requires a thorough evaluation of an individual’s medical history, symptoms, and physical examination. There is no specific test to definitively diagnose migraines, which can make the process more challenging. However, healthcare professionals rely on specific criteria established by the International Headache Society to diagnose migraines. The criteria include:

  1. Headache frequency and duration: A patient must have had at least five headache attacks, lasting 4-72 hours if left untreated.

  2. Pain characteristics: The headache should have at least two of the following features: moderate to severe pain, one-sided location, pulsating sensation, and aggravation by physical activity.

  3. Associated symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound are common symptoms associated with migraines.

  4. Exclusion of other causes: Other potential causes of headaches, such as brain tumors or infections, must be ruled out through appropriate tests.

Treating Migraines

Managing migraines involves a combination of lifestyle changes, acute treatment during attacks, and preventive strategies to reduce their frequency and intensity. The treatment plan can vary depending on the severity and frequency of the migraines and the individual’s overall health. Here are the primary approaches to treating migraines:

Lifestyle Modifications

a. Identify Triggers: Keeping a migraine diary can help pinpoint triggers like certain foods (e.g., aged cheese, processed meats), stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, or environmental factors (e.g., bright lights, strong odors).

b. Regular Sleep Patterns: Establishing consistent sleep patterns and ensuring adequate rest can reduce the frequency of migraines.

c. Stress Management: Practicing relaxation techniques, meditation, or yoga can help manage stress, which is a common migraine trigger.

d. Diet: Maintaining a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated is essential. Avoiding trigger foods can also be helpful.

Acute Medications

a. Over-the-counter (OTC) Pain Relievers: For mild migraines, OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin may provide relief.

b. Triptans: These prescription medications target specific receptors in the brain to reduce inflammation and constrict blood vessels, providing relief for moderate to severe migraines.

c. Anti-Nausea Medications: Antiemetic drugs can help control nausea and vomiting associated with migraines.

Preventative Medications

a. Beta-blockers: These medications, commonly used for high blood pressure, can also help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.

b. Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed for their preventive effects on migraines.

c. Anticonvulsants: Certain anticonvulsant drugs, such as topiramate, have shown efficacy in reducing migraine frequency.

d. CGRP Inhibitors: Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors are a newer class of drugs specifically designed to prevent migraines in some individuals.

Alternative Therapies

For those seeking alternative approaches or complementary treatments, some options have shown promise in managing migraines:

a. Biofeedback: A technique that teaches individuals to control certain bodily functions, like heart rate and muscle tension, to reduce migraine intensity.

b. Acupuncture: The insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body may help alleviate migraine symptoms for some people.

c. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals manage stress and cope with the impact of migraines on their lives.

Suffering from migraines is a painful and often disabling experience that thousands of military veterans live with every day. If you or a loved one have a diagnosis for migraine and it is due to a service-related occurrence, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. At Lunn and Forro, PLLC, we work as your advocate throughout the approval process and beyond. If your claim has been denied, please contact us for a free case evaluation today.

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