Migraine VA Rating
If you are a veteran suffering from migraines, you could be entitled to VA disability compensation payments. The amount you are entitled to will depend upon your migraine VA rating, a percentage rating assigned to your disability based on its impact on your daily life and ability to work. The higher the rating, the greater the monthly compensation you receive.
To prove your disability, you’ll need to gather evidence, complete the appropriate forms correctly, and file them with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The process can be time-consuming, complex, and at times confusing. You have the right to pursue your own third-party medical opinions to verify that your condition qualifies and to work with a VA benefits lawyer to help. If you are appealing a denial, one of the VA disability lawyers from our VA disability law firm can help.
Symptoms of Migraines
As communicated by the National Institute of Health, a migraine is a type of headache that generally includes ongoing attacks of moderate to severe pulsating and throbbing pain. It is often reported to occur on one side of the head. Migraines are caused by the activation of nerve fibers inside the wall of blood vessels that travel inside the meninges, three layers of membranes protecting your brain and spinal cord.
Untreated migraine attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours, with other symptoms including:
- Increased sensitivity to light, odors, and noise
Engaging in normal actions like coughing, sneezing, or even movement or physical activity can make the pain worse. After a migraine, it is common to feel exhausted or weak.
What Triggers Migraines?
Various risk factors are associated with migraines, which can impact individuals differently. Some triggers of migraines include:
- Excessive or insufficient sleep
- Strong emotions or stress
- Physical overexertion
- Head trauma
- Missing meals
- Certain medications
- Low blood sugar
- Flashing or bright lights
- Loud or sudden noises
- Motion sickness
- Changes in hormones
The fact that many of the triggers of migraines cannot be avoided in normal social environments or workplaces, migraines can have a crippling effect on a veteran’s ability to live and work.
The Impact on Your Daily Life and Ability to Function
A migraine has 4 distinct stages, each of which can have an impact on your capacity to live your daily life. The four phases of a migraine attack, all of which may or may not be present in a given attack, are:
- Early symptoms can happen before the attack up to 24 hours before the migraine develops, including mood changes like depression or euphoria, fluid retention, increased urination, or uncontrollable yawning
- Aura – During this stage, some individuals report seeing bright lights or flashing similar in appearance to heat waves prior to or while the migraine is happening, with other persons reporting muscle weakness or the sense of being touched or grabbed
- Headache – Migraines often start weak and increase in intensity, with the amount of pain varying from individual to individual
- Postdrome – This is the period after a migraine and is characterized by confusion and exhaustion and can last for up to 24 hours after the migraine
There are two primary types of migraines. The first is a migraine with aura, which can include visual disturbances and other symptoms, including a partial or total loss of vision. Additional symptoms include numbness, muscle weakness on one side of the body, and confusion. The second type of migraine is without aura, and can include sudden headache pain, as well as blurred vision, mood changes, fatigue, and sensitivity to light, noise, or sound.
Migraines and the Impact On Your Work
Migraines require treatment to address the symptoms, which can significantly impact a veteran’s on-the-job performance or even prevent them from working altogether. Preventative medications are needed for those who have frequent attacks and potentially lifestyle changes to reduce the prevalence of triggers. When your migraines are so severe that they cause what are called “prostrating attacks,” then you are able to receive VA disability compensation when your migraine VA rating is 10 percent or more.
VA Disability Rating Criteria for Migraines
Your migraine VA rating depends upon the evidence submitted but is subject to the limits placed upon it by the VA. For migraines, you may receive a disability rating of 0 percent, 10 percent, 30 percent, or 50 percent. The rating that you receive from the VA is based upon terms that have been argued in court repeatedly to determine how their meaning applies to individual cases.
To qualify for a compensable migraine VA rating it is necessary that your attacks are “prostrating”. As defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, prostrate means “stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission” or “completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise”. These definitions are in turn applied to how your migraines impact you, and what level of compensation you are approved for by the VA. Working with a medical expert who has experience helping veterans receive accurate diagnoses for their migraines is helpful for your application given the variability in how terms and definitions might be applied.
Rating Percentages for Migraines
Following are the symptoms, severity, and impact on your ability to live and work that the VA assigns to migraine disability:
- 0 percent – This is for veterans who experience occasional migraine and symptoms but do not have “prostrating” attacks
- 10 percent – If you suffer from migraines with prostrating attacks that happen every 2 months on average over a period of several months this rating is assigned
- 30 percent – When you experience several prostrating attacks monthly for a number of months, then a 30 percent rating is assigned, the first VA disability rating at which you qualify for tax-free monthly payments in addition to medical coverage.
- 50 percent – The highest migraine VA rating you can receive is 50 percent, which is assigned when you have frequent migraines that are completely prostrating, resulting in an inability to work
Compensable VA disability ratings, where you receive monthly compensation, begin at 10 percent. While a 10 percent rating may not be a lot by itself, it can be applied to your overall VA disability rating. When your overall VA disability rating reaches 70 percent, and other criteria are met, you could qualify for disability compensation at the 100 percent rate through TDIU compensation.
Filing a Migraine Claim
The evidence provided with your migraine claim will determine your migraine VA rating, and for effective consideration, you need to file the appropriate forms. Packaging your evidence into the proper forms is essential, as the VA disability application process can take a lot of time. Delays or denials due to ineffective filings can result in a delay of years in the receipt of your benefits. If your claim has been improperly denied, one of our VA disability lawyers can help you collect the benefits you deserve, often retroactively to the date you applied.
Collecting disability benefits requires that you undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam, which seeks to determine if you have a service-connected disability, and file the appropriate forms. Your forms can be supported by independent medical opinions, which are submitted to accompany your general VA disability application. The following forms are essential to collect VA disability benefits for your migraines:
- VA Form 21-526EZ – the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits – This form is used to apply for VA disability compensation and related benefits and must include sufficient evidence to prove that your current condition is linked to your qualifying active service.
- Headaches (Including Migraine Headaches) Disability Benefits Questionnaire – This form was historically submitted alongside your form for compensation, in which a medical professional reviews your application and related evidence, considers your current condition, and provides their diagnosis, symptom assessment, and related opinion concerning your migraines. VA is no longer making the DBQ forms available to veterans, but they can still be obtained.
Knowing which forms to submit and what kind of medical evidence the VA will recognize can be central to the outcome of your claim. Working with an experienced VA disability claims attorney can ensure that any appeal you file is supported as well as possible.
The Importance of Medical Evidence
To collect VA disability benefits, you must have a current diagnosis for a condition that is linked to your service. A current condition is only recognized by the VA when you submit sufficient evidence to prove it. When it comes to migraines, you may need to gather evidence from a number of different medical professionals.
Whether your migraines are a primary or secondary condition will also impact the kind of evidence you need. A primary condition is one that is directly caused by your active service, while a secondary condition developed due to one that happened during your active service. For example, if your migraines occur due to hypertension caused by medications you use for another condition, then they are secondary. If your migraines were caused directly by an event, injury, or illness during service, they are a primary condition.
Our firm has an in-house physician who may carefully review your medical history, service records, service health records, and present medical records. We have a network of medical professionals to refer you to and will help with scheduling so that you can prove a link between your service and your current condition. This is often accomplished through something known as a nexus letter.
Proving a Service Connection and the Nexus Letter
One of the most important pieces of evidence in support of your migraine VA rating and claim is a medical opinion that links your current condition to your active service. In order to collect VA disability benefits for migraines, you must be eligible, which requires the following three elements:
- You have a current medical diagnosis of migraines
- Your migraines were caused or made worse by an injury, illness, or other event during your qualifying active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
- You have medical evidence that links your current condition to your active service
Number 3 in this list is referred to as the nexus letter. The nexus letter is a medical opinion written specifically for you in support of your present VA disability claim. Generally, the medical professional will perform a current assessment of your condition, and carefully review all records relevant to your condition. After review, the medical expert will determine if your condition is linked to your service in degrees of likelihood as follows: “not likely,” “at least as likely as not,” “more than likely,” and “highly likely.”
When the connection to your service is determined to be “at least as likely or not” or above, then the VA will generally view the opinion as favorable and often approve your claim. Being approved for the full VA disability benefits you are entitled to also requires that an accurate percentage is applied to your claim. A VA benefits attorney can help you challenge a denial, or even seek an upgrade in your discharge status to qualify you for benefits.
Connect with an Attorney from Our VA Disability Benefits Law Firm
Navigating the application process or a denial of your VA disability benefits can be difficult. The process requires that you submit certain information that the VA is looking for to support an accurate rating and receipt of benefits. We can help you if your claim has been denied by VA, and are happy to explain how, including discussing pricing and what you’ll have to do throughout the process. To learn more, call toll-free at 888-915-3843 or visit our site to schedule a free case evaluation.
How does the VA measure the presence of migraines?
The VA will assess your current condition by reviewing the medical evidence provided in your application alongside the results of your C&P exam.
How do I get 50 percent VA disability for migraines?
You must have very frequent migraines that are completely “prostrating” and prolonged.
How do I get 30 percent VA disability for migraines?
This rating is applied when you experience a characteristically prostrating migraine on average each month for many months, such that they impact your ability to function normally.