All Disability. All The Time.

Can migraines be disabling?

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Social Security Disability |

If you’ve ever had a true migraine, you already know that it’s more than just a severe headache. Many migraineurs find their conditions to be profoundly disabling.

But do migraines qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits? 

Intensity, frequency and duration are what matter the most

Migraines are actually complex neurological disorders. They’re characterized by four distinct phases:

  • Prodrome: This is a precursor to the actual migraine, where sufferers sometimes start to experience warning signals that a migraine attack is imminent. For up to two days before the migraine starts, sufferers can experience everything from fluid retention and food cravings to depression and yawning.
  • Aura: Not all migraineurs experience this phase, but auras are widespread disturbances of the sufferer’s neurological system. They can occur up to an hour or so before the acute phase of the migraine starts and can include “pins and needles” sensations, weakness in various body parts, facial numbness, vision loss or flashes of light in front of their eyes and trouble speaking.
  • Attack: This is the acute, painful phase of a migraine, where victims suffer from throbbing or pulsing pain, sensitivity to light, sound and smell, nausea, vomiting and other extreme symptoms. This phase can last up to three days without medical intervention.
  • Post-drome: Even after the migraine attack ends, sufferers can feel confused, sick and exhausted for a full day.

Given all that migraineurs go through, it’s no wonder that they’re unable to function normally for several days with each migraine they experience. Whether or not the condition meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of disability depends a lot on the frequency and duration of someone’s migraines. Someone who has one or two migraines a year wouldn’t likely be disabled from them under SSA’s rules, but someone who has them weekly (or even daily), would find working impossible.

If you suffer from a severe migraine disorder, obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is a possibility – but disability claims involving “invisible” illnesses often meet resistance. Legal guidance can help you present your case in a way that increases the odds that your claim will be approved.