Migraines are known for being the worst of headaches, but a migraine is more than an aching head. Migraines are caused by a neurological disorder and are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, eye pain, and hypersensitivity to light, sound, and/or smell.

Migraines differ from person to person. Some people have infrequent, mild migraines that last for four or five hours. Others have debilitating pain that lasts up to 72 hours or even longer. For these people, doing anything other than staying in bed in a dark room is impossible.

There are medications that can treat or prevent migraine attacks, but they are not always effective, and many drugs have side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.

If you suffer from frequent and severe migraines, you may find it hard to work and to keep a job. Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) may be an option.

Proving You Suffer From an MDI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a disability listing for migraines. In order for the SSA to consider your application for SSDI, you will have to show the following:

  • Your doctor has diagnosed you with primary headache disorder.
  • Your doctor has provided a detailed description of your headaches, including all associated phenomena, as well as the frequency, severity, and duration of the events.
  • You have tried several different types of treatments. Your doctor must provide details of your adherence to or inability to use prescribed medication, and that you continue to have severe symptoms despite following your treatment plan.
  • Your doctor has detailed if/how the prescribed treatments produce side effects such as drowsiness or confusion.
  • How your headaches limit or interfere with your daily activity. For example, your doctor should cite symptoms of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, need to lie in a darkened room, etc.
  • You must show you have significant limitations that affect your ability to concentrate, understand instructions, interact with others, or perform physical activities such as walking, standing, or carrying.
  • You must show that you are unable to do the kind of work that you have been doing, and you cannot do another type of work.
  • Medical records that show visits to the emergency room or hospitalizations for migraine headache treatment.

You can apply for SSDI online at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/, or we can file an application for you in our office. Because it will take 3-4 months for an initial decision to be made, and Social Security (SS) often denies initial claims even if they have merit, it’s important not to give up.

Contact Cuddigan Law If You Need Disability Benefits for Migraines

If you suffer from frequent, severe migraines, and you provide the necessary evidence to show that you have primary headache disorder that prevents you from working, you could be eligible for SS disability benefits. If your SSDI claim for migraines is denied, you may still qualify, and our Omaha disability benefits lawyers can help you file an appeal. Learn how we can assist you in our booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim. Contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free today.


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