Migraines are a common condition among former military service members. Migraines often occur secondary to other injuries and illnesses like traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and more. If you’re a veteran experiencing migraines, you may be eligible for a higher VA disability rating and benefits.
What is a Migraine?
Migraines are not like other headaches, just ask someone who has had one.
Unlike a typical headache, migraines can cause impairment in everyday life. A migraine can be completely debilitating and so intense that sufferers will do almost anything to relieve the pain.
The symptoms of migraines can vary greatly. Migraines typically occur in several phases, up to four in many people, and can last from hours to days.
- Prodrome: The first phase can start several days before the actual headache starts. These symptoms include mood changes; constipation; food cravings; frequent yawning; increased thirst and urination; and/or neck stiffness.
- Aura: The second phase of the migraine can include; flashes of light; bind spots or other visual disturbances; tingling of one side of the face, arm, or leg; hearing music or noises; touching sensations such as sensory, motor, or verbal disturbances; weakness of muscles or feeling as if someone is touching you; and/or a specific type of headache that precedes the actual migraine.
- Migraine: The third phase is the actual migraine itself and has specific symptoms that other headaches do not have. A migraine can last upwards of 72 hours and can have such symptoms as; pain on only one side of their head; throbbing or pulsing pain; nausea and/or vomiting; sensitivity to light, sound, smells; blurred vision; and/or lightheadedness or fainting spells.
- Post-drome: The fourth phase is the last phase of a migraine and the sufferer can experience such symptoms as; feeling drained and washed out or elated; confusion; moodiness; dizziness and/or continued sensitivity to light and/or sound.
Remember that seeking a medical opinion is the best way to obtain treatment for your migraine or post-traumatic headache.
Your doctor can work with you to manage your symptoms or even find long-term relief. This medical visit will also be key in your claim for veterans benefits.
Secondary Conditions to Migraines
A little-known aspect we see often is migraines leading to secondary issues such as mental health conditions like PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, and others.
The inverse is also seen on occasion with PTSD leading to severe migraines, and a potential VA rating post traumatic headache as a secondary condition.
Some studies also show that both migraine and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be up to 3 times more common in women than in men.
In this video, we discuss a common link we see between migraines and mental health issues among military service members.
In-Service Injuries Connected to Migraines
Migraines are one of the more prevalent claimed disabilities among Veterans. It is currently ranked 8th in most prevalent disabilities in new compensation claims.
Studies suggest that approximately 36% of those returning from Iraq experience migraine-type headaches.
There are several injuries that can occur in active duty that might be linked to migraine headaches, which include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Exposure to chemicals (such as burn pits and chemical solvents)
- Loud noises from events like explosions
- Eye, neck or back injuries
- Mental Health Issues
There can also be other secondary issues from the migraines such as sleep disorders, sleep apnea, chronic mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Detailed information on how migraines are rated can be found here.
Filing a VA Claim for Migraines
In order for a veteran to file a claim for migraines, the following must occur:
- A veteran first must have a diagnosis of migraines in order to file for VA disability compensation
- It must be determined if the migraines are the primary disability (caused by an in-service injury or event) or if they are secondary to another injury or illness.
If they are a primary disability, you can claim them alone.
If they are a secondary disability then you must claim the primary medical condition or injury, as well as the migraines (if you are not already service-connected for the primary disability).
If the migraine is primary, there are several ways to show proof of migraines being service-connected in order to file a claim:
- Show treatment for migraines in service with medical records, or;
- Show an injury or illness in service caused migraines with a nexus statement
- Proof of exposure to certain environmental issues (burn pits, loud noises, etc.)
- If secondary to another condition, veteran will need diagnosis, treatment records and nexus to show proof
Proving service connections without medical evidence is more difficult, but it is possible.
The team at Hill & Ponton may be able to assist you if you were denied benefits for migraines. Click the button below to get more information.
VA Disability Ratings for Migraine Headaches
The VA’s rating schedule for migraines awards a maximum 50% rating for veterans.
Compensation and Pension (C&P) examiners use the term “prostrating attacks” when assessing the severity of a veteran’s migraines.
A prostrating attack means that the migraine causes significant pain or distress.
The VA uses 38 C.F.R. § 4.124a, Diagnostic Code 8100, to rate migraines. The rating schedule lists the rating criteria as follows:
- 0% – With less frequent attacks
- 10% – With characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over the last several months
- 30% – With characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over the last several months
- 50% – With very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability
You can read more about how the VA rates migraines and the C&P exam questionnaire in here.
Have Questions About Appealing Your Claim or Understanding How the Claims Process Works?
The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are here to support you with appealing a claim to get migraine benefits.
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
We are sorry that this post was not as useful for you!
Help us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?