If you suffer from migraines, you’ll understand how devastating they can be to the sufferer. A migraine headache is also often unexpected, making it impossible to predict when and for how long it will affect your day and job activities.
Migraine headaches can be brought on by a wide range of circumstances, including those that are physical, psychological, and environmental. Migraine headaches are a common problem among military Veterans.
Migraine headaches are considered a disability for Veterans, and the number of cases involving migraines is on the rise.
What Is the VA Rating for Headaches?
Understanding the 38 CFR regulation that guides the VA rating for migraines is essential. The maximum VA rating for a migraine headache diagnosis is 50%, meaning that a Veteran with migraines may be eligible for up to 50% disability compensation. To be clear, this isn’t a predetermined scale; there are several stages of migraine headaches to consider.
These stages, according to the Diagnostic Code 8100, are:
- A noncompensable, or 0% disability rating, is often applied for someone with just infrequent migraines or symptoms that do not involve prostrating episodes.
- If a Veteran has headaches with prostrating attacks that recur on average every two months over a period of many months, a 10% disability rating is expected.
- Veterans who get headaches with prostrating episodes on an average of once per month for several months are likely eligible for 30 percent disability.
- To receive a VA disability rating of 50%, a person must suffer from significant economic inadaptability due to their migraine episodes being frequent, persistent, and resulting in total prostration.
How Does “Prostration” Affect a VA Migraine Rating?
You’re probably wondering, what is prostration? The term “prostration” refers to a position in which one is completely reclined. According to VA, prostrating headaches are defined as migraines that necessitate the patient to lie down during, and possibly after the course of their attack.
Although there is no time limit for a prostrating episode, VA is likely to accept that your migraine headaches are prostrating if the attack is so bad that it requires you to lie down to control your symptoms.
A headache notebook is a good way to keep track of when and how long it takes to recover from a prostrating episode. Proof that your migraines are “prostrating” and “prolonged” will help you get a much higher maximum possible disability rating. We also strongly encourage veterans to obtain buddy letters or lay statements from friends or family members who have observed the prostrating headache attacks. The buddy letter should describe what has been personally seen, such as how often the attacks occur and that these attacks require the veteran to lie down for extended periods of time to alleviate the symptoms of the migraine headaches.
However, to get the maximum VA migraine rating (50%), you must suffer from significant economic inadaptability. Although this term is not defined in the rating code, it should be taken to mean that it is extremely difficult to engage in gainful economic activity. Thus, if your migraines occur frequently and severely enough to keep you from going to work for more than one day a month, it’s possible that you’ve met the criterion to show that your prostrating migraine headaches create serious economic inadaptability.
For Migraine Headaches, How Is Service Connection Established?
Establishing a link between a Veteran’s service and his or her migraine headaches is one of the most difficult components of getting VA disability payments. Getting a proper diagnosis is the first step in the process. It’s critical that you have described your headaches in detail to your physician when you see him or her.
Next, you must be able to establish that something happened in service to cause your headaches. This could be that a headache problem was first documented in your service treatment records, or it could be a head trauma in the service that began a series of headaches that remained chronic. Regardless of what it is, there must be something in your records to demonstrate that something happened during service that could be the cause of your current headache.
“When you have a migraine, do you find it difficult to stay focused and productive? Do you feel weak after a severe headache? Do you spend a lot of time lying down because your head hurts so much?” These are typical questions you might be expected to answer.
The more detailed you can be in your medical declarations, the more probable it is that the VA will find the existence of your headaches. Make sure you don’t minimize the severity of your symptoms.
Finally, the third element to establish service connection is a connection or a link. This is sometimes called the nexus requirement. You must establish some evidence that shows a connection between your current headache disability and whatever happened during military service. In most cases, this linking evidence or nexus evidence is obtained from an expert report from a medical expert who can provide an analysis as to the causation of your current headache condition.
Demonstrating the Headache’s Effects to the Veterans Administration
When a VA ratings specialist reviews your disability claim, existing proof that your migraine is “prostrating” (producing both weakness and the desire to lie down) will stand out. However, you must supply evidence proving that your headache qualifies as a migraine to ensure an accurate migraine rating. Remember, a one-time headache is not going to qualify. It must be a recurrent problem.
You should get a medical diagnosis from a physician. Then, you should present documents and comments from family and friends regarding how your headaches have affected your daily routine. These “statements,” known as buddy statements or buddy letters, might make the difference between a lowball disability rating and awarding you a favorable disability rating.
Veterans Disability Info
At Veterans Disability Info, we can address any questions you may have about the claims or appeals procedure linked to your service-connected migraine and headache rating claims. Whether your migraine started immediately after you left the military or decades later, you may be eligible for disability compensation.