What are Migraine Headaches?
Migraine headaches are a type of headache characterized by intense pain that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, lightheadedness and blurred vision. Migraines can be debilitating and can last anywhere from hours to days depending on the person. It is unclear what causes migraines but triggers can include stress, sensory stimulation, certain foods and changes in environment.
How Does the VA Rate Migraines?
The VA rates migraine headaches under 38 C.F.R. 4.124a diagnostic code 8100. The diagnostic code includes disability ratings from 0% to 50% disabling, and entitlement to each rating is dependent on the severity and frequency of migraines. For instance, a 0% rating would require a veteran to have less frequent attacks of migraine headaches, but the 50% rating would be warranted for a veteran who has “very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.”
The VA uses the word “prostrating” to evaluate migraine headaches. To have a prostrating migraine requires that the headache be debilitating. Examples of this are when a veteran’s migraine is so severe that it results in complete exhaustion and physical weakness. If your migraines make you physically exhausted and drain you of your ability to do activities of daily living or work, your migraine could be considered prostrating.
How Do I Prove that My Migraines are Prostrating?
There are a number of ways veterans can show the VA that their migraines are prostrating. The first is to submit lay statements. Lay statements can be useful as they give veterans a chance to detail their symptoms and the impact they have on their daily life or ability to work. In your lay statements, it may be useful to explain what happens when you get a migraine and what activities you’re not able to do when you experience one.
Another useful piece of evidence that a veteran can submit is a medical opinion. Medical opinions can be provided by your personal physician and can be used to provide medical evidence of prostration. Your doctor can attest to the severity of your migraines and whether or not they can be considered prostrating. Speak to your doctor to see if they would be willing to write a letter in support of your claim.
A final useful piece of evidence is a Compensation and Pension examination. The VA may schedule veterans for C&P exams when they need to make a determination on granting service connection for a disability or assessing the severity of a veteran’s condition so they can rate it appropriately. For C&P exams for migraine headaches, the examiner will assess whether or not your migraines are prostrating. When you attend an exam, be sure to explain the severity of your symptoms to the examiner. It is important to detail your limitations during a migraine attack so they can accurately assess the impact of your migraines.