A Guide to Getting to 100% VA Rating for Migraines

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While the rate for chronic daily headaches or chronic migraines is about 3% in the general population, it’s alarmingly over 20% among post-9/11 combat veterans.

This highlights the unique challenges faced by our veterans when it comes to these types of debilitating headaches.

The VA offers disability ratings for migraines, which can impact monthly compensation and eligibility for additional benefits like Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), providing critical financial support to those affected.

Understanding these ratings is key for veterans seeking to navigate their VA benefits effectively.

What Are Migraine Headaches?

Migraine headaches are more than just a regular headache; they’re a specific type of pain that can significantly affect a person’s life.

Unlike ordinary headaches, migraines are often characterized by a throbbing or pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head.

They can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities and last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Key Symptoms of Migraine Headaches: Intense Throbbing Pain, Sensitivity to Light and Sound, Nausea and Vomiting and Visual Disturbances (Auras).

Key symptoms that set migraines apart include:

  • Intense Throbbing or Pulsing Pain: Typically felt on one side of the head.
  • Sensitivity to Light and Sound: Bright lights and loud noises can worsen the pain.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: These symptoms are commonly associated with migraines.
  • Visual Disturbances: Often known as ‘aura,’ which may include flashes of light or blind spots.

These symptoms make migraines distinct from other types of headaches.

If you’re a veteran experiencing headaches and unsure whether they’re migraines or a different type, our detailed Veteran Headache Guide can help you identify the type of headache you have and explore if it’s something you can receive a VA rating for.

How Does the VA Rate Migraines?

Migraine VA Ratings Video from H&P

Navigating VA ratings for migraines involves understanding each rating level and knowing how to achieve or potentially increase it.

Here’s a simplified guide with tips for each rating level, including how to increase your rating if necessary.

0% Rating

Awarded when migraines are present but have minimal impact on daily life.

What the VA Looks For:

  • Occasional migraines with minimal disruption.
  • No need for regular medication.
  • Minimal impact on work or daily activities.

What Can I Do to Get This Rating?

Document all occurrences of migraines, even if they are mild or infrequent.

How do I Increase this Rating?

Record any changes in frequency or intensity. Note any new symptoms or increased disruption to your routine.

10% Rating

Given when migraines cause noticeable discomfort but occur less frequently than once a month, and may require rest.

What the VA Looks For:

  • Migraines that disrupt normal activities but are not frequent.
  • Some medication may be required.
  • Episodes are spread apart enough to maintain a regular work schedule.

What Can I Do to Get This Rating?

Keep a migraine log detailing each attack, noting down dates, duration and intensity. Record how these attacks affect your daily life.

How Do I Increase This Rating?

Document instances where migraines become more frequent or severe. Include details of any additional treatments or medications required.

What is a “Prostrating Migraine?”

For VA disability claims involving migraines the term prostrating will be the most important one you need to know. If your attacks require periods of time where you must rest or lay down to recover, your migraines are considered prostrating and may entitle you to a higher rating.

Read more about why the term “prostrating” is vital to your migraine claim.

30% Rating

Assigned when migraines occur about once a month, and may require rest.

What the VA Looks For:

  • Regular, disruptive migraines necessitating time off work or rest.
  • The need for stronger or more frequent medication.
  • Noticeable impact on work performance and daily responsibilities.

What Can I Do to Get This Rating?

Maintain detailed records of each migraine episode and its impact on your daily life. Gather statements from family, friends, or colleagues about how these migraines affect your activities.

How Do I Increase This Rating?

Track any increase in the frequency or duration of migraine attacks. Note any additional effects on your ability to work or perform daily activities.

50% Rating

The highest rating for migraines, applicable when they are frequent and severely impact work ability because they require rest.

What the VA Looks For:

  • Very frequent migraines causing significant life disruption.
  • Regular and prolonged periods of rest needed.
  • Considerable interference with employment and daily activities.

What Can I Do to Get This Rating?

Document each migraine attack comprehensively, including the need for prolonged rest. Collect medical evidence demonstrating the severity and frequency. Include statements from employers or coworkers about the migraines’ impact on job performance.

How Do I Increase a 50% Migraine Rating?

Receiving a 50% VA rating for migraines is significant, as it’s the highest rating for migraines alone.

However, if your migraines and related health issues have a more profound impact on your life, you might wonder how to increase your overall disability rating beyond 50%.

Here’s what you need to know about secondary conditions and Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) as pathways to increase your rating.

Increase with Secondary Conditions Related to Migraines

Secondary conditions are additional health issues that develop as a direct consequence of a service-connected disability.

For instance, if you have migraines, you might also experience conditions like depression or sleep disorders due to the chronic pain and life disruptions caused by the migraines.

If these secondary conditions are recognized as connected to your service-related migraines, they can contribute to a higher combined VA disability rating (and more compensation and benefits for you and your family).

Examples of possible secondary conditions to migraines include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • GERD
  • Vertigo

Delve deeper into how secondary conditions can impact your rating by reading our guide.

How Do I Increase My Rating

How to Increase My Migraine VA Rating: A Guide to Migraine Secondary Conditions

Increase with Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) for Migraines

TDIU is an option for veterans whose disabilities, including severe migraines, prevent them from securing or maintaining substantial gainful employment.

It acknowledges that certain conditions, while not rated 100% on their own, can still have a 100% impact on a veteran’s ability to work.

With TDIU, even if your combined disability rating is below 100%, you might still receive compensation at the 100% rate, considering the severity of your employment impairment due to migraines.

For a detailed understanding of TDIU, especially in relation to severe migraines, explore our IU Guide.

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Learn everything you need to know about IU by clicking here!

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