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VA Disability for Migraines: Everything You Need to Know

VA Disability for Migraines: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know how disabling they can be. The VA offers disability compensation for migraine conditions connected to a veteran’s service. We’ll walk you through what a migraine is, the available ratings, and how to get compensation for a migraine condition.

More About Migraines

Migraines differ from headaches — they are neurological events that include some or all of the following symptoms: 

  • Moderate to intense head pain in various parts of the head 
  • Throbbing, pounding, or pulsing sensation
  • Worsening pain upon movement
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Interference with daily life

Symptoms may last from several hours to several days.

Migraine Phases

The length of migraines is relevant to determining how they rate as a VA disability. Migraines can occur in three stages: prodrome, headache, and postdrome. 

Phase 1: Prodrome and aura phases

The prodrome and aura phases begin before head pain. Signs can include extreme fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, food cravings, vision changes, or even trouble speaking. This phase can last several hours or even days.

Phase 2: Headache phase

This phase can also last several hours or days. Pain can be moderate to severe and can be unbearable. It can include the symptoms listed above. This phase can also include “aura” — flashes of light, blind spots, shapes, bright spots, blurred vision, or loss of vision.

Phase 3: Postdrome phase 

This phase is sometimes called the migraine “hangover.” It can include fatigue, body aches, trouble concentrating, dizziness, and light sensitivity.

Causes of Migraines

Migraines can occur with or without a “trigger.” Some common triggers include stress, hunger, alcohol, weather or pressure changes, hormonal changes, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries. Exposure to toxic fumes from burn pits has also been increasingly linked to migraines. Veterans can experience all of these triggers, especially those caused by stress and injury. 

How To Claim VA Disability for Migraines

Veterans suffering from migraines can apply for service connection by proving to the VA that their illness started in service, was caused by an injury or event in service, or is secondary to another service-connected condition. 

To apply for disability compensation, complete VA Form 21-526EZ online through the VA portal, or visit a local VA office to apply in person. 

If you have applied for compensation for migraines and were denied, an experienced VA disability attorney can help navigate an appeal. 

What Is the VA Disability Rating for Migraines?

The VA rates service-connected disabling conditions on a scale based on the severity of the symptoms. Four possible VA ratings for migraines range from 0% to 50%. 

  1. A veteran who experiences occasional migraines can be service connected and rated at 0%. There is no associated compensation unless the disorder worsens. A 0% rating for a service-connected illness is a non-compensable rating. 
  2. A veteran who has experienced one migraine every two months for the last several months can be rated 10% disabled. Attacks should be “prostrating,” meaning the veteran experiences weakness and must lie down. A common sign is a need to lie down in a dark room.
  3. One migraine per month with prostrating attacks may qualify a veteran for a 30% rating. 
  4. A veteran who experiences “very frequent completely prostrating” and prolonged attacks qualifies for the highest migraine rating, 50%. The migraines must be capable of producing severe economic inadaptability.

Often, migraines require a person to take sick leave or unpaid absence from work. Veterans can apply for total disability if the migraines prevent them from holding employment, even if they aren’t rated 100%. 

Secondary Ratings

Though migraine ratings are limited to 50%, other conditions caused by migraines can be service connected on a secondary basis. For example, if a veteran develops depression because of the severity and unpredictability of migraine attacks, the depression can also be service-connected for an overall higher rating. 


Is it difficult to get VA disability for migraines?

Disability claims can be confusing, but there are many resources to help veterans. Veteran services organizations help navigate early claims, and VA disability attorneys can help with appeals if the first claims are denied. 

Can I get a 100% VA disability rating for migraines?

The highest rating a veteran can get for migraines is 50%. But if another condition connected to the service caused your migraine, you could also be rated for that condition. Additionally, if other disabling conditions occur due to service-connected migraines, a veteran will be rated for those conditions. 

If migraines prevent you from holding gainful employment, you can apply for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, even if they’re not rated 100%. 

How does the VA test for migraines?

Veterans applying for migraines can undergo a compensation & pension (C&P) examination at a VA facility. The examiners use a Disability Benefits Questionnaire for Headaches, which asks about the severity and length of attacks. 

Can you get VA disability for migraines?

If you meet the rating criteria, migraines are a qualifying disabling condition for VA purposes. 

Contact Experienced Disability Attorneys 

If you have had a claim for benefits for a migraine condition denied, experienced attorneys can handle your appeal. Schedule a free consultation with the Cameron Firm, PC, by calling 1-800-861-7262 or filling out the contact box on the website. Our attorneys represent veterans nationwide. 

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This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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