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Court Wins

CCK Helps Gulf War Veteran Secure Increased Rating for Migraines

April Donahower

November 2, 2022

Updated: November 20, 2023


Case Summary

The Veteran served in the Marine Corps from January 1993 to 1997 during the Gulf War Era.  In the years following, he suffered from a variety of conditions related to his military service, including severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), frequent migraine headaches, radiculopathy, tinnitus, and more.

In early 2014, the Veteran began filing claims for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation for his service-related conditions.  In response, VA denied most of his claims.  However, in October 2014, VA granted service connection for unspecified trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder) at 30 percent and a back disability at 20 percent.  VA also awarded a 30 percent disability rating for migraine headaches in 2015.  In addition, VA granted a 70 percent rating for PTSD and a 30 percent rating for IBS in 2018.

After several denied appeals for increased ratings for migraines and other conditions, the Veteran hired Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick to assist in appealing VA’s decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

CCK Helps Veteran Increase Migraine VA Rating

In December 2019, the Board issued a decision denying the Veteran a rating in excess of 30 percent for migraine headaches.  In response, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).  The Court granted a Joint Motion for Partial Remand in November 2020.

The Veteran’s case returned to the Board in April 2021.  In their argument, CCK affirmed that the Veteran should be entitled to a 50 percent disability rating (i.e., the maximum VA rating for migraines under 38 CFR § 4.124a) for his migraine headaches.

According to CCK, the Veteran’s headaches are very frequent, prolonged, and completely prostrating.  This was evidenced in his 2014 headache log, which showed that he often needed to lay in bed until his migraine headache subsided.  The Veteran also noted that he lost 58 days of work in one year due to his headaches.  Additionally, in a July 2017 VA examination, the Veteran stated that he had a migraine headache every three to four days.  His headaches often lasted one to two days and included symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Based on this evidence gathered by CCK, the Board determined that the Veteran was entitled to the maximum possible rating for migraine headaches – 50 percent.  Furthermore, following nearly a decade of appeals, CCK helped the Veteran secure a combined disability rating of 100 percent.

About the Author

Bio photo of April Donahower

April joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in August of 2016 as an Associate Attorney. She currently serves as the Appellate Supervisor in our Veterans Law practice. April’s practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about April