Social Security Disability for Migraine- 5 Tips for Filing

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Access the ADA Laws, Get your Benefits- Filing for Social Security disability law benefits for migraines can take time.  Before applying for disability, know your ADA rights.  Follow these 5 steps:


Fact: Migraine headaches are disabling

Migraine illness is a debilitating disease that impedes your quality of life.  Severe migraine attacks cause symptoms such as excruciating head pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, visual problems, and hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents.  The unemployment rate among migraine patients is high; because of their illness, chronic migraineurs often have difficulty keeping a job, running a smooth household, keeping appointments, and maintaining a healthy relationship with family and friends.

Fact: You are an American with a disability

Unfortunately, many migraine sufferers fail to get proper support from friends, family, coworkers, and employers.  Because migraine symptoms are not visually apparent, a stigma surrounds migraine sufferers, an unspoken disbelief that migraines are a serious condition worthy of compensation.  In fact, most don’t realize that migraine is a neurological illness. Many sufferers find it easier to time off from work to recuperate from a severe migraine attack; losing wages, rather than go through the often nerve-racking ordeal of applying for disability.  However, according to the ADA, if you are unable to keep a job because of migraines, then you are eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.


Here are some important tips to consider before applying for Social Security disability:

1- File for disability. Go online to the United States Social Security Administration (USSSA) website, click “Disability,” and then choose “Apply for Disability.”  Follow the online instructions.  Alternatively, you can also visit your local Social Security Administration office, or dial (800-772-1213) for live assistance in filling out your disability claim.  The advantage to filing in person, versus online is that you get a physical, stamped copy of your application to keep in your records.

2- Gather all your medical records. If you haven’t already, it is essential that you keep a full account of all information related to your migraine headaches.  In order to prove your disability, Social Security will need to see contact info for all doctors that you have visited for migraines, including the dates you were seen, insurance records, prescriptions for medications, medical testing reports, and employee history going back fifteen years before onset of migraine, including absences and leave.  Make sure to have extra copies, including a set for your own records.


3- Be prepared to answer questions. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are eligible to receive disability compensation, even if you suffer from an “invisible disease,” if you meet certain requirements.  Social Security will ask the following questions, in order to establish that you are unable to work, and therefore qualify for disability:

  • Are you currently employed, and are you able to perform your job consistently?  Almost 75 percent of all migraineurs find it difficult to perform their regular job duties, and half admit that they have had to stay home from work because of migraine attacks.
  • If you are unemployed, could you do the same kind of job that you had prior to becoming ill?
  • Are you work in any other type of employment?
  • Are your migraine headache symptoms debilitating?
  • Does the SSA recognize your condition as a qualifying disability?  Whether or not the SSA concludes that migraine illness is keeping you out of work depends on the extent that migraines have interfered with your day-to-day life.  To qualify, you must convince them that you require at least one year away from work to undergo testing, try new therapies, determine migraine triggers, and find a migraine treatment that either prevents migraines or alleviates migraine pain considerably.

4- Play the waiting game. Applying for disability is a lengthy process.  Depending on your vicinity, you could end up waiting a few months…or a few years for a reply.  To keep the process going smooth, be extra vigilant about complying with time schedules.  Once you’re approved, you will not begin to receive your first disability benefits for another six full months.


5- If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Many migraine sufferers who apply for disability are not accepted the first time around. Instead of filing anew, make an appeal for reconsideration of your initial application.  Act quickly, because you only have 60 days to respond, in addition to an extra 5 days for postal service.  Provide new, updated medical records to the SSA yourself, rather than waiting for your hospital to “get around” to passing on the information.  Review your original disability application for errors, and include any missing information, like migraine treatments, hospital stays, or related ailments, in your appeal.  If possible, hire a lawyer skilled in disability law.

Related reading:

Cindy McCain Gives Voice to Migraine Syndrome

Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!


10 Things You Should Know About Chronic Migraines and Applying for Social Security Disability

Disability for Migraines, Social Security disability for Headaches

SSDI or SSI?  What are the differences and basics?

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My Disability Blog: Tips for filing a Social Security Disability Reconsideration