Social Security disability claims arising from migraine headaches have become more common over the past ten to fifteen years. The Migraine Research Foundation, a private organization that funds research into the causes and treatment of migraine headaches, estimates that 30 million Americans suffer occasionally or regularly with migraine headaches. These headaches result in 113 million lost work days due to migraines and $13 billion of lost productivity.
Migraine patients file for Social Security disability when the frequency and severity of headaches reaches the point where work activity is impossible, despite relaxation techniques and medication therapy.
In my experience, Social Security judges will approve disability based on migraines if they are convinced that:
- the claimant is sincere, truthful and credible
- the claimant has tried all available therapies and medications without success
- the medical record supports the disability claimant’s allegations of headache frequency and severity
My case strategy for winning migraine cases arises from a “functional capacity” argument – that because of frequent and debilitating migraine headaches, my client would not be a reliable employee at even a low stress job with minimal physical or mental demands.
Click to read more about how I use a functional capacity argument to win a migraine Social Security disability case.
No Medical Listing for Migraine Headaches
At this point Social Security has not yet published a medical listing for migraine headaches, although I did run across an interesting web site published by a group called M.A.G.N.U.M. (the Migraine Awareness Group) that has published proposed legislation – a proposed migraine listing – that sets out some helpful “listing equivalency” arguments that could be incorporated into a brief or oral argument. Again, remember that there is no medical listing for migraines at this point.
Case Studies – hearing reports from migraine disability cases tried by attorney Jonathan Ginsberg
Migraine Case Study 1: 45 year old female with migraines 3 to 7 days per month, non-responsive to medications
Migraine Headache Case Study 2: 54 year old male who experiences 5 to 10 migraines per month. He is blind in his right eye after being struck by a nail from a nail gun.
Migraine-like Headache Case Study #3: 54 year old female with a 7th grade education and unskilled work background who claims disability arising from constant and severe headaches arising from chronic, intractable sinus infections that cause thick, malodorous drainage from the ears.