Veterans Disability Info Blog

How to Increase Your VA Rating for Migraines – Top 5 Tips

Veterans who are suffering from migraine headaches may qualify for VA disability benefits. These benefits provide tax-free monthly payments to provide compensation for any negative impact on your ability to maintain steady employment that your disability may cause. 

To determine what your migraine VA rating is and what disability benefits you are entitled to, connect with a VA benefits lawyer from our VA disability law firm to discuss options. 

Tip #1: Make Sure That You Provide Sufficient Evidence to be Eligible for VA Disability Benefits

In order to be eligible to collect VA Disability benefits, you must meet certain requirements and provide enough evidence with your application to prove that you meet them. In order to be eligible for VA disability benefits or compensation, the following 2 requirements must apply  to your situation: 

  1. You currently have an injury or illness, referred to as a “condition,” that impacts your mind or body, and
  2. You have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training (with something happening in the line of duty for the latter two categories)

In addition to the above two requirements, at least one of the following statements must also be true:

  • You were injured or became ill while you were serving in the military, and you are able to link your current condition to that illness or injury, known as an in-service disability claim, or
  • You had an injury or illness before you joined the military and your active service made it worse, known as a pre-service disability claim, or
  • You have a current condition or disability linked to your active-duty service that did not emerge until after your service, called a post-service disability claim or delayed-onset service connection claim

There are also certain “presumptive conditions” that the VA will automatically assume are linked to your service, which means they automatically have a nexus with service. When you have a qualifying presumptive condition, it is not necessary that you prove that your service caused the condition, only that you meet the service requirements for the presumption. 

The following are the most common types of presumptive conditions:

  • An illness caused by hazardous materials, contaminants or toxic chemicals (e.g. Agent Orange, Camp Lejeune, burn pits, radiation)
  • A chronic long-lasting illness that appears within 1 year following discharge (or the other statutory time-frame following service – e.g. multiple sclerosis within 7 years, tuberculosis and leprosy within 3 years)
  • An illness based on the time, place, and circumstances of your service (Gulf War, etc)
  • An illness that resulted from your time as a prisoner of war (POW)

If you are eligible for VA benefits based upon a service-connected condition, it is still necessary that you have the necessary discharge status. 

Honorable Discharge Status is Necessary to Collect Many VA Disability Benefits

It is important to understand that you must have other than dishonorable discharge status to be eligible to collect all the VA disability benefits you could be entitled to. If you received anything other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge status, however, it is still possible to collect some VA disability benefits. Alternatively, you could seek to correct or upgrade your discharge status, and an experienced VA disability benefits attorney from our law firm can help you determine what your best options are. 

Tip #2: Make Sure Your Application Meets the Migraine VA Rating Requirements

Migraines are rated under the VA’s schedule for rating disabilities and fall under diagnostic code 8100. Diagnostic Code 8100 concerns migraine headaches. A migraine is generally experienced as a throbbing or pounding pain in the head of the impacted person. Migraines can also result in sensitivity to light, smells, or noise and can also cause problems in the digestive system. Post-traumatic headaches are a common occurrence among veterans who have experienced trauma during their active service, and migraines are a form of this. 

Understanding the Migraine VA Rating 

The term “prostrating” is used in the DC 8100 definition of migraines. The migraines that you experience must be so severe that they result in “prostrating” experiences, which is included in the 30 percent and 50 percent VA rating for migraines. The term applies to the frequency and severity of the migraines that you experience.  In other words, the migraine headaches must be so severe that they force you to lie down due to the severe pain.

While you might think that the term “prostrating” would be clearly defined by the VA, this is not necessarily the case. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “prostrating” as “stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission.” The severity of your migraines under this definition must be so severe that you are taken off your feet. Whether this is literally interpreted or taken to mean that you are in extreme pain is not clearly defined by the VA. 

The lack of clarity for certain key terms and definitions in your VA disability ratings allows freedom for the VA to interpret them when reviewing your application. If you do not have sufficient evidence in place to support your migraine disability application, ambiguous terms like “prostrating” might not be met, and your application could be rejected. Working with an experienced attorney from our VA benefits law firm ensures that the evidence provided in support of your claim will be packaged in a way that the VA understands and will approve. 

Generally, in our experience, veterans seeking a 50 percent rating should have evidence from friends or family that you frequently experience migraines so severe that it forces you into a dark bedroom where you have to lie down, making economic productivity impossible.

Tip #3: Make the Most of Your Migraine VA Rating to Maximize Your VA Disability Benefits

Currently, the maximum migraine VA rating you can collect from the Department of Veterans Affairs as clarified in a recent non-precedential decision issued by the Board, is 50 percent. This is for migraines as a primary condition, although additional conditions can lead to migraines as a secondary condition. The rating that you receive is determined by the degree to which your migraines impact your daily life and also your ability to work. 

Your migraine VA rating can be 0%, 10%, 30%, and 50%. Under DC 8100, a 30 percent rating is assigned to veterans who experience prostrating attacks that happen on average once per month over the past number of years. A 50 percent rating is assigned to veterans whose migraines result in very frequent completely prostrating attacks that result in severe economic inadaptability. 

Providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate that your migraines result in such occurrences is essential to support the outcome of your application. While the benefits for a 0% disability rating for your migraines may include medical coverage, a rating of 30 percent or 50 percent entitles you to tax-free compensation on a monthly basis. These payments may make the difference between your migraines creating an unstable financial situation in your household, or covering your needs to help you receive the treatment and compensation you need to make up for your service-related migraines. 

Secondary Condition Migraines are Also Covered

It was determined recently in 2021 by the VA that veterans who are suffering from migraines as a secondary condition to tinnitus are eligible to collect VA disability benefits. Primary disabilities are those that resulted directly from an event while on active service, while secondary conditions result from a primary condition caused by active service. For example, if you experienced a back injury while on active duty that caused issues with your knee following your active service, the back injury is the primary condition while the knee injury is secondary to that. 

Tinnitus is basically the experience of hearing a ringing in the ears when there is no external audio stimuli happening. When tinnitus leads to the development of migraine headaches, you can pursue a migraine VA rating that will complement your primary disability. If your total disability rating exceeds 70 percent as a result of the percentages of two conditions combined, one of which is 40 percent or greater, you could also qualify for Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU). This is a 100 percent VA disability rating for your 70 percent or greater disability, which entitles you to the greatest tax-free monthly payment from the VA possible. 

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) May Also be Available 

As explained by the Department of Veterans Affairs, in general, a veteran is able to receive a maximum disability rating of 50 percent for migraine headaches. The issue of whether or not additional compensation is available in the form of special monthly compensation (SMC) due to the need for aid and attendance has been considered, and the VA has determined that the criteria for SMC based on the requirement of the regular aid and attendance of another person can be met by migraine headaches. 

Tip #4: Fill Out the Proper Forms

Once you have gathered sufficient evidence to prove your current condition and its service connection, it is time to file your VA disability application. You’ll need to fill out the appropriate forms for your VA disability, as well as your Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Application to collect your medical benefits. For veterans with a migraine disability rating below 30 percent, VHA coverage for the medical treatments and costs necessary will generally still be available. Your general disability application must provide a broad overview of your medical issues, your proposed disability coverage, and evidence. 

You may also want to complete the Headaches (Including Migraine Headaches) Disability Benefits Questionnaire. A healthcare professional is given the opportunity to review your records including VA treatment records, service treatment records, and private treatment records. They will then diagnose your condition, verifying whether or not you have a headache condition, and if so, which condition, including migraine or migraine variants, tension, cluster, or other. 

In your Headaches Disability Benefits Questionnaire, the medical professional will provide a narrative of your medical history, the treatment plan including any relevant medication, and a measurement of the level of pain experienced by the veteran. Diagnostic testing is optional but not required within the context of your Headaches Disability Benefits Questionnaire. 

Within your application, your healthcare professional will try and measure the functional impact that your migraines have on your ability to work. For the evidence in support of your VA disability claim, it is extremely helpful to pursue your assessment from a medical examiner who understands what the VA is looking for. 

With our VA disability benefits law firm by your side, the success of your appeal will be supported by our network of medical professionals with direct experience helping veterans like you collect the evidence they need to make the most of their VA disability benefits. 

Tip #5: Provide a Statement of Support to the VA 

When veterans apply for benefits, they have the option of pursuing their own independent medical examinations and also providing a Statement in Support of Claim. This allows you the opportunity to present a fully developed and comprehensive claim that includes extensive evidence in support of your case. You’ll need to submit VA Form 21-4138 alongside the evidence to verify your claim and make the most of your migraine VA rating. 

Your Statement in Support of Claim can also be accompanied by “buddy letters” submitted through VA Form 21-4138 as well. Buddy statements can be provided by individuals who are familiar with your experiences during active service or the symptoms of your migraines following your service. 

Connect with Our VA Benefits Law Firm to Help with Your Migraine VA Rating

Suffering from migraine headaches can negatively impact your capacity to enjoy life and engage in steady employment to support yourself and your family. VA disability benefits are specifically tailored to help you cover the costs associated with your migraine disability but can only be received if you are successful in your application. 

Whether you are just applying for VA disability benefits for your migraines, have applied and been declined, or need to pursue an upgrade in discharge status to qualify, we can help. Our VA disability benefits lawyers are standing by to review your unique situation and to determine how we can support you in receiving the fullest VA disability compensation possible. 

To get started, reach out to us by phone at 888-495-5774, or visit our site to schedule a free case evaluation

We are Here to Help

If you are having trouble obtaining benefits, contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to discuss your case.