The Social Security Administration Doesnt List Migraines As A Disability
The SSA has a comprehensive list of disabilities, including the criteria to qualify for each one. Itâs formally titled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security but more commonly referred to as the Blue Book .
Migraine does not appear in the Blue Book. But before you stop reading and throw in the towel, know that this doesnât mean you canât get benefits. It just means you have to work harder to prove why you need them.
Keep A Journal Or A Pain Tracking Worksheet
Your claim for long-term disability requires documentation of the frequency and severity of your migraine symptoms. One way to provide this evidence is to write everything down in a daily migraine journal.
Your journal should state exactly how your migraines limit your capacity to regularly work and to perform simple activities. So, describe how your migraines constrain your abilities to concentrate, to comprehend, to remember, to communicate, to walk, and to stand.
Your journal should also note how long the symptoms have lasted, any medication you may have taken, and the medications effects. Dont forget to include dates and times of your headaches and when youve had to miss work because of them.
The Medical Records The Ssa Will Want To See When Assessing Your Eligibility
Itâs hard enough to get disability benefits as it is. Not having detailed medical records makes it even less likely itâs going to happen. Not only will the SSA want to see an official diagnosis, but theyâll want to see the medical records and functional reports you complete with your doctor, too.
Medical records could include MRI and other imaging results, prescriptions, tests done to eliminate the possibility of other conditions, and more. The functional report is a comprehensive explanation of how migraines impact your activities of daily living .
And, again, this process isnât easy. Even if you have some medical documentation, it may not be enough. When Cove customer America M. applied for benefits, she tells us that she was denied because there wasnât enough proof, despite the fact that sheâd been let go several times due to migraine.
âThe judge was very understanding of my situation,â she explains, âbut he said he was just going to need more doctor visits. Itâs just hard to see a doctor as frequently, and I canât currently afford to go.â
If you donât have these records, or if you donât have many of them, we suggest speaking to your doctor as soon as possible so you can start building a stronger case.
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The Decision And Months To Follow
In December, I received a letter that they had determined I was disabled by medical terms. This was the first step that needed to be successful in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Over the next few weeks, they evaluated my financial eligibility to determine how much money I was qualified to receive.
The financial portion is based on a few things: how much money youve paid in to Social Security, your work credits, and other income. I say other income because you are allowed to work while receiving SSDI, and although you may be medically disabled, if you are able to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity you may receive a smaller amount of financial assistance or none at all.
Since I applied prior to being 22 and my parents both are of retirement age and have paid in, I was eligible for an additional amount based on my fathers retirement Social Security. My mom was also eligible for a portion since she had not been collecting her personal retirement benefits yet.
At the start of the new year, I received back pay. This is standard, and for people who have spent years going through the process, they are eligible to receive a sizable amount dating back to when Social Security determines your disability began. For me, they backdated my disability to July of 2017.
Fill Out An Application
You can mail an application or bring it to your local SSA office. Better yet, save time and start the process online.
Be prepared to share information within the application, such as:
- alternate contact
- medical and job worksheet form SSA-3381
- bank account information for direct deposit
The SSA will contact you if they need anything else. You may have to participate in a phone or in-person interview.
In the meantime, you can log in and check your application status anytime. Your application will be confirmed by email or mail.
Your application wont be considered if you dont have enough work history. And, if youre still working, thats definitely going to affect your case.
To qualify for disability benefits, the SSA must be convinced that:
- your migraine is severe enough to prevent you from doing your job
- you cant do other work based on your age, education, and skills
For the SSA to consider migraine a disability, it must be diagnosed by an acceptable medical source who:
- shows they performed a physical exam, reviewed your medical history, and excluded other possible diagnoses
- provides a detailed description of a typical migraine attack and all accompanying symptoms
- provides evidence of response to treatment and that migraine attacks persist
A certain amount of patience is required at this point. It can take 3 to 5 months, or even longer, for a decision to be made.
There are four levels of appeal:
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Contacting A Disability Lawyer Should Be Your Absolute Last Option
If your short-term or long-term disability claim has been denied at any stage, you should know you;can;fight the insurance companys decision. If you have appealed and appealed and been denied, you do have the option to challenge the insurance company. 7 – reference – Disability Lawyer – A Waxman – Toronto
Be aware that most lawyers charge a large significant fee for their services.
Can I Prevent Chronic Migraines
Taking care of yourself every day may prevent your migraines from turning into a long-term problem. For instance:
Catch some ZZZs. Not getting enough sleep can trigger a migraine. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of rest each night.
Watch your diet. While caffeine can soothe your pain, stopping it suddenly is a common cause of migraine. Other common food triggers include MSG , nitrates in cured meats like hot dogs, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.
Manage your stress. Tension and worry are common triggers. Try to carve out a few minutes each day to do something you love, or learn to breathe deeply when youâre in the midst of a crisis. You might join a support group or talk to a counselor.
Have a meal plan. Fasting and skipping meals can trigger headaches. Try to eat around the same times each day.
Get moving. Exercise is a good way to ease your anxiety and stress. It can also help you get to, and stay at, a healthy weight. Since obesity raises your risk of chronic migraines, getting in shape is crucial.
Know your triggers. Not all migraines result from triggers. But if yours do, that set of triggers is unique to you. To learn what yours are, keep a headache diary. Each time you have an attack, write down details about what you were doing, how long the headache lasted, and how you felt before it started. This will help you begin to notice patterns — and avoid your triggers.
Migraine Research Foundation: âMigraine Facts,â âThe Impact of Hormones.â
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Do Chronic Migraines Qualify For Disability
The Social Security Administration has no standard;disability;listing for;migraines;in their Blue Book, but this doesn’t mean you;can’t get approved for benefits with;chronic migraines. It simply means you’ll need to prove that you’re unable to maintain a full-time job and earn a gainful living due to your limitations. 2
To determine your eligibility, the SSA will:
- look at your daily limitations
- consider the frequency and severity of your headaches
- examine your employment options
- review your medical evidence
If after taking all of these factors into account, the SSA finds you’re unable to perform the essential job duties of any job for which you’re otherwise qualified, then you’ll be deemed medically eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits. 2
As migraine;pain can be triggered randomly, living with the constant fear of having them is indeed very stressful. For this reason, the;Canadian;government recognized;migraine;pain as a;disability;to provide comfort for the sufferers through their;disability;tax credit program. 3
To read about how the Canadian Disability Benefit can help to discuss the disability tax credit, types of disabilities they cover, and various refund processes visit www.canadiandisabilitybenefits.ca
One Real-life Chronic Migraine sufferer’s disability experience
Canadian Chronic Migraine support group – weighs in
Accommodating Employees With Migraines
People with migraines;may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with migraines;will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
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Proving Your Migraines Are Disabling
There are no laboratory tests to prove a headache is a migraine or so severe that it’s disabling, and a physical examination probably won’t be able to uncover anything wrong with you. The SSA will need to rely on your statements about the severity of your migraines and your doctors’ reports documenting your symptoms. The SSA, however, does not have to believe your claims of how severe your migraines are. That’s why medical documentation is so important in migraine cases.
In order for SSA medical consultants to determine whether the severity and frequency of your migraines are sufficient to create a disability, they will want to see the following documentation.
- Reports by the doctor who primarily treats your condition, such as a neurologist, pain management specialist, or headache specialist
- Specific documentation of your daily symptoms and migraines, so as to measure the frequency of occurrence, duration, location, and intensity of your migraines as well as their effects on your daily living activities, and
- Documentation of medications taken and treatments tried, whether successful or unsuccessful, and any side effects you experienced from them.
Winning Disability Benefits For Migraines And Headache Disorders
Applying for and winning short or long-term disability benefits for migraine and headache disorders in Canada can pose serious challenges.
Because headache disorders dont always appear as abnormalities on CT scans and MRIs, doctors dont always correctly diagnose them, and insurers often deny claims on that basis.
If migraines, cluster headaches, or tension-type headaches are preventing you from being able to work, this article contains essential information that can help you prepare to file a winning claim for disability benefits. This article is part of our series looking at disability benefits and medical conditions.;
You are not alone. Around four million Canadians suffer from migraines and other debilitating headache disorders. Severe headaches are so disruptive to quality of life that the World Health Organization has classified them as one of the top 20 causes of disability worldwide.
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How Are They Treated
Both migraine and chronic migraine can be treated with the same drugs. These include medications that treat the pain and symptoms as well as drugs that treat the underlying cause of migraine. In some cases, there are medical devices you can use to interrupt the headache. Still, no treatment is perfect.
Because of that, chronic migraines can take a toll on your personal life. If you get painful headaches for half of each month, you lose days of work or school and precious time with friends and family. Itâs common for people with chronic migraines to also have depression.
What Is The Process Of Getting Ssdi
Social Security Disability Insurance provides assistance when someone develops a disability or illness that makes them unable to work. Workers give a portion of their paychecks to SSDI. They can then access that benefit if they, or someone in their family, becomes disabled. Typically, if you are awarded a benefit, it would be in the neighborhood of around $15,000 a year, says Dr. Shapiro. SSDI is only available to those who give a portion of their paychecks to the program. It provides more monthly income than Supplemental Security Income , which provides financial assistance to older adults and the disabled.
You can apply for SSDI benefits online or by calling the National Social Security Administration office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. However, the Social Security Administration recommends that applicants review the Adult Disability Checklist to collect the documents and information necessary to complete the application ahead of time. Heres an overview of the process:
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The Disability Benefits Application Process
How to apply
When youâre ready, you can complete the application online. You can also visit your local SSA office if youâd rather do it in person. The advantage of doing it online is that you can do it from anywhere, start immediately rather than needing to schedule an appointment , and save the application and come back later.
Once submitted, the SSA will review it and let you know their decision. Note that it can take three to five months to receive the final decision.
What happens if you get approved for disability benefits
Well, first of all, thatâs great! We hope things get easier for you from here on out.
One important thing to know is that there are generally limitations on how much youâll be able to work and how much income youâre allowed to make to continue receiving your benefits .
Qualifying for disability may also allow you to receive a check that helps cover your main living expenses like rent, bills, and groceries. If your migraines impact you so badly that you canât work a full-time job or consistently have to miss shifts, then this lifts a huge financial burden off your shoulders.
As you can see, itâs unfortunately a little complex and not as straight-forward as we all might like.
What happens if you donât get approved
America filed appeals several times because she kept getting denied. Eventuallyâa year after she first appliedâshe got her court date with the judge .
What you should know about the Americans With Disability Act
The Headache Questionnaire Application Part Two
Roughly two weeks after submitting my initial application, I received mail requesting more information.
This section contained 10 questions specific to my headaches, symptoms, medications, hospital care, specific diagnosis, and most importantly the impact on my daily life, routine and ability to work.
The first nine questions were all extremely straight forward and were seeking general information about my migraines. It would be a similar set of questions I would be prepared to answer in a new patient appointment while seeking treatment for my migraines.
The final question regarding the impact of migraines is what stood out most to me, and I believe it is the reason my application for disability benefits was approved.
Disability isnt simply about if you can perform at work or not, it is a whole picture evaluation that needs to demonstrate how your entire life is impacted.
In describing the impact on my work I described my shift of working full time, to reducing hours, to reducing hours below even a part time basis and inevitably having to quit. I explained the accommodations the workplace was able to provide me and demonstrated how they were not sufficient.
I concluded with the idea of my daily routine and described how simple household tasks and errands proved to be nearly impossible. A few examples I included were:
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Migraines And The Americans With Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA,;see;How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act .
Lights Sounds And Smells
Migraines are notorious for stemming from environmental stimuli, like lights, noises, and smells. For example, a strong candle could lead to a full-blown migraine for some individuals, while others might experience migraines more from flashing lights or loud music.
Experts believe that environmental stimuli trigger migraines because migraine sufferers tend to have a lowered ability to perceive and process sensory stimuli, similar to what happens to someone with a sensory processing disorder. Shifts in the environment can make it challenging for people with migraines to function regularly, affecting both their personal and workplace lives.
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What If Youre Denied
If the government denies someones SSDI claim, they can file an appeal online within 60 days of receiving the denial.
It is important that a person thoroughly read through the reasons given for denial so they can look for evidence or arguments to counteract them.
Individuals have the choice of appealing the decision themselves or hiring a lawyer.
There are four levels of the appeals process:
If a person wishes to continue to work, they may want to discuss their options with their employer.
Many employers will make reasonable accommodations if a person is able to clearly detail their request.
Things that may count as reasonable accommodations in the workplace include:
- working from home when required
- flexible working hours, to work around migraine
- different lighting
- reducing noise
It is important that people make sure to prepare concrete examples of how work may trigger migraine or make it worse, as well as steps that they or their employer can take to remedy the situation.