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Migraine Headaches and Disability Claims

Migraine headache claims present a challenge for people trying to get short and long term disability insurance benefits. Frankel & Newfield has represented many claimants with migraine headaches, at all stages of claims, from filing a short term disability claim to representing them when claims have been denied or terminated.

We can help you with your disability claim.

Our experience representing migraine headache sufferers gives our clients the confidence so they can focus on dealing with the pain and stress of this condition, while we battle with the disability insurance company. Call us today at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524) to learn how we can help.

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This is about a Social Security Disability claim.

What kind of migraine headache do you have?

Migraine headaches are considered a neurological condition and there are many different types of migraine headaches:

  • Acute migraine—also known as episodic migraine.
  • Vestibular migraine—affects balance and cause dizziness.
  • Optical Migraine-many different names, including retinal migraine. Only affects one eye.
  • Complex Migraine –general term, referring to other symptoms that mimic stroke
  • Hormonal Migraine—may be estrogen or serotonin-driven
  • Acephalgic Migraine—a migraine with all the symptoms except a headache
  • Stress Migraine—triggered by stress or anxiety
  • Cluster Migraine –extreme pain around the eyes
  • Vascular Migraine—not a technical term but used to describe the throbbing felt during a migraine headache.

A migraine headache is completely different than a regular headache. Most people experience regular headaches at one time or another. The pain can be dull or sharp, and usually they disappear within a few hours. Sinus headaches that result from a sinus infection or inflamed sinus tissues can feel intense, but they are not migraine headaches.

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You Can’t Work with a Migraine Headache

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Anyone who suffers from migraines understands that it is impossible to work during an episode, which the Mayo Clinic describes as causing terrible headache pain, nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to sound and light, and can last as long as several hours to several days. Many sufferers retreat to a quiet dark room and even then are plagued with terrible discomfort for extended periods of time.

The challenging facing migraine sufferers when it comes to short and long term disability is simple: disability insurance companies want to see subjective evidence of a physical disability. There is no single diagnostic test – including MRIs or CT scans—that clearly indicates that an individual has had or is having a migraine headache.


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What You Need to Know Before Filing a Disability Claim for Migraine Headaches

There are things that an experienced disability attorney can do to help substantiate your claim. At Frankel & Newfield, our attorneys know what the disability insurance companies are looking for, so we can help better prepare your medical file to support your claim.

You’ll need to be under the treatment of a doctor with a focus on migraine headaches. Your treating physician should be selected to provide you with the best care for this specific disability, but for your claim, they should also be someone who specializes in migraine headaches and other neurological illnesses.

You may need to undergo a brain MRI or CT scan so that your doctor can rule out any other reasons for your migraine headaches. These tests can generate a lot of anxiety, but you should not delay having the test once your doctor recommends it. Even if the test does not prove that you have migraines, the fact that you had them done will further demonstrate the seriousness of your claim.

Maintain a diary or calendar – as detailed as possible—of your headaches. This will be helpful for your physician as well. Do you have certain recurring symptoms, like flashing lights, blind sports or tingling before the migraine headache begins? Note everything down, in detail.

Have you been prescribed medications for your migraine headaches? Another challenge to disability claims to migraines comes from the very treatments that are used for migraine headaches. Often patients find themselves practically sedated from the medications, which can help their headaches, but also render them incapable of driving or working.

If your medical reports indicate that these medications have been prescribed, but you are not taking these medicines, the insurance company will claim that you could get better, but since you refuse to ingest the medicines, that the disability is of your own making.

Remember that the success of your disability claim centers on proving that you can no longer perform the substantive and material duties of your occupation. Your ability to work is what the disability insurance company is focusing on.

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Dealing with Migraine Headaches at Work

Migraine sufferers often have warning signs that a migraine headache is going to occur, some as many as a day in advance, others in a few hours. Keeping medication in the office, as long as it does not make you drowsy or unable to function, is important. The ability to retreat to a quiet space while you wait for the medication to start working may be helpful. But if you start losing too much time at work, or your boss does not understand the debilitating pain of a migraine, you may need to consider filing a short or long term disability insurance claim.

Many migraine sufferers try to tough it out, because they are afraid of losing their job. But when the headache strikes, they are unable to leave the house and simply cannot function. Filing for a disability claim may be your best and only option, but you’ll want to be sure you take this step with the right guidance.

Don’t be surprised if your first claim is denied, especially if you make the claim without the assistance of an experienced disability insurance attorney.

If you have questions about your migraine disability insurance claim, call our office at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524). We have represented many migraine headache patients and know the tactics that the disability insurance company will use in its attempt to deny your claim. If your claim has been denied, call our office as soon as you can, since there are time limits on your ability to file an appeal. Once the deadline passes, you may permanently lose the ability to appeal your claim.

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Jason A. Newfield

Written By:

Jason A. Newfield - Disability Insurance Attorney

Jason Newfield is a founding partner of the disability insurance law firm Frankel & Newfield. He has spent the majority of his legal career advocating for the rights of disabled workers. He has lectured other professionals, worked on a Federal Advisory committee, and published many articles in the field of disability insurance claims and litigation.

Learn more about Jason | See Jason’s Publications

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