Migraines: Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, someone in the U.S. goes to the ER with a headache or migraine every 10 seconds. A migraine is more severe than a regular headache, and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to sound and light, and a blinding, excruciating pain in one side of the head. Most migraines last about four hours; but some can go on for a week. Over 35 million people in the U.S. are affected by migraines.

Not only can migraine headaches be disabling, they can disrupt the lives of those who suffer them. The pain and symptoms Migraine Paperwork Surrounded by Medicationassociated with migraines sometimes require that a person with a migraine lie down in a quiet room, dark room and stay still for hours. Migraines can also have a devastating effect on job performance.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t cite migraines in its Blue Book—a compiled list of conditions and impairments; however, people who suffer from intense, chronic headaches may be able to show that they “equal a listing” if their symptoms match the severity of another similar condition. For example, because researchers place migraines on the seizure spectrum, a person who experiences chronic migraines could possibly equal the listing for epilepsy. To be approved for benefits, the SSA will look at the severity of your symptoms to determine if they’re comparable or equal to the criteria of that other listing and are severe enough to prevent you from performing on the job. If so, you may be eligible for disability benefits. 

Applying for Social Security Disability for Migraines

In order for the SSA to determine that your migraine symptoms leave you unable to work any type of job, you must be able to prove that they limit your functionality in significant ways. Here is a brief look at what the SSA looks for when evaluating migraines:

  • How they limit your concentration and ability to understand instructions.
  • How they limit your ability to interact with others.
  • How they limit your ability to stand, lift, or walk.
  • The frequency of your migraine headaches.
  • How often you miss work because of your migraines.
  • If you have another condition that adds to or increases these limitations.

It’s important to remember that the SSA will consider your level of education, age, and past employment, along with these limitations, to evaluate your ability to do any type of work on a full-time basis. Often cases are approved because of the frequency of absences from work an individual is not able to sustain full-time competitive work.

If you suffer from migraine headaches, you may qualify for benefits from the SSA. Contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for disability from the SSA.


Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska