If chronic migraine is affecting your ability to work, it is possible to apply for disability benefits as long as you provide evidence.
If you experience chronic migraine, then you know that it’s more than just a typical headache that you can work through with a pain reliever. This neurological condition can make it difficult, if not debilitating, to function properly at work.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine affects approximately 37 million people in the United States, with over 90% of those who are unable to work or function as they typically would while they experience a migraine attack.
If you can’t work because of frequent migraine attacks, then you may be eligible to apply for disability benefits. Here’s what you need to know before you apply.
If you live in the United States, you can apply for disability benefits if you have chronic migraine. Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more migraine days a month.
In the United States, you have the option to apply for short or long-term disability as well as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
Steps for applying for disability benefits
There is a five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you need benefits now, consider applying as soon as possible. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Medical evidence — list of medications you take, doctors you’ve seen, tests conducted.
- Work history — jobs you’ve had before you’ve become unable to work, as well as at least 40 Social Security credits.
- Application — You may apply online or by mail.
For a complete list, download the SSA’s application checklist.
Who qualifies for disability benefits?
Eligibility for disability benefits is determined by whether you meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. To be considered for benefits because of your migraine attacks, you must:
- Prove you are unable to work because your migraine headaches prevent you from doing your job.
- Provide evidence that you are unable to do another job due to your migraine attacks.
- Show your migraine disorder has lasted or will last at least one year.
If your employer offers short-term disability as part of their health insurance package, you may qualify for 90 days of paid medical leave due to your chronic migraine symptoms.
This means the money you receive can be used for any mediation or treatments during your time off or toward any expenses you need to be covered while you’re not working.
Once your 90 days of short-term disability is up, you may need to extend to long-term disability insurance. This insurance plan may also be covered as part of your employer’s health insurance package.
This will cover about 50-70% of your salary while on medical leave. Check with your employer to see the criteria required to approve long-term disability.
If you don’t have disability benefits through your employer or on your own, you can apply for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which is offered through the government. However, it’s important to note that most employers require you to apply for this in addition to their disability benefits.
If you’ve paid enough social security taxes throughout the years, you may qualify for SSDI and may also qualify for Medicare. This means your retirement income may increase if you stop working earlier in your life due to migraine attacks.
If you’re denied disability benefits from the government, you have 60 days to file an appeal from the date you received the decision letter. You can file a disability appeal online to request a review of the decision.
There are four levels of appeal:
- Reconsideration — This is a complete review of claims by someone new who looks at the past as well as new evidence and documents.
- Hearing — You may request a hearing by an administrative law judge if you disagree with the reconsideration decision.
- Appeals council –—You may request to have your application reviewed by an appeals council if you disagree with the hearing decision. However, they can deny your request if they agree with the hearing decision.
- Federal court review — the last level of the appeals process, where you file a civil action in court.
If you experience chronic migraine headaches and are unable to work due to your condition, you may be eligible for disability benefits through your employer or the federal government.
You can apply for these benefits which are known as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) online or directly through the mail. To qualify for these benefits, you’ll need to provide information that proves you’re unable to work because of your condition.
You’ll also have to fill out an application and provide medical evidence as well as your work history.
It’s not an easy road to claim disability due to migraine attacks. However, if you’re denied there are ways to appeal.