Migraines are a serious issue for military personnel and veterans, and studies suggest that they are especially common among those who have been deployed in Iraq. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that migraines may be a service-connected disability. If you can prove that an event or incident during your military service caused or aggravated your headaches, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation.

How the VA Rates Migraines

If you submit a claim to receive benefits for migraines, a VA ratings specialist will rate your headaches based on their severity and frequency using a ratings chart with four possible percentages: zero, 10, 30, and 50 percent. A 50 percent rating is the highest rating given for migraines. This rating is only given if the migraine causes “very frequent, completely prostrating and prolonged attacks.” In general, the term “prostrating” means that you experience extreme weakness, exhaustion or powerlessness due to your migraines and must lie down for a long period of time.

What is the C&P Exam?

To qualify for VA disability payments you must first submit to a Compensation and Pension exam—an appointment that allows a VA doctor to evaluate your physical or psychological condition and determine the level of impairment caused by your disability. Their report is used by the VA to help approve or deny a disability. It is important to keep in mind that the VA almost always gives more weight to the evaluation of a C and P examiner than your own doctor, so you should take the C and P exam very seriously.

What You Should Do at the C&P Exam

Our first, and most important, recommendation is that you must show up. If you miss your initial C&P exam, it is likely that the VA will deny your claim. If you’re not able to be there for the exam at the scheduled time be sure to inform the VA as soon as possible and reschedule it—failure to reschedule will also likely result in a claim denial.

At the C&P exam don’t downplay your symptoms. A good rule of thumb is to describe the symptoms of your most severe migraine attacks. But don’t exaggerate your symptoms either—that can cause its own set of problems.

Because you know your situation better than anyone, write a statement describing your migraines—how often they occur, what your specific symptoms are, and what limitations they cause. Also statements from family members, friends, and co-workers about what they witness when you are having a migraine attack can also be helpful.

To get the proper VA disability rating for any impairment medical documentation is crucial. Tell your personal doctor in detail about your migraine headaches. That way, even if the C&P examiner does not accurately represent the severity of your headaches, the medical record will support your claim.


While the highest schedular rating for migraines is 50 percent, if your headaches make it impossible for you to work and you have other service connected disabilities, you may be eligible for a 100 percent rating under the Total Disability Individual Unemployablity program—known as TDIU.  You can find several informative videos about TDIU on the Cuddigan Law website or on our You Tube channel. 

Get Free Advice From a VA Diablity Law Firm

For free evaluation of your VA disability claim, give us a call or send us an email. At Cuddigan Law you have a team of professionals in your corner who know the system and will fight for your rights.

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