Qualifying for Disability Benefits (SSDI) with Chronic Migraines in Pennsylvania

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one out of every five Americans — approximately 58 million individuals — lives with some sort of disability.  But for those who live with a severe disability, it may be impossible to work and earn income.

However, financial obligations do not stop for health issues.  Even if you cannot work due to health concerns, you will still continue to receive utility bills, medical bills, and credit card bills.  You still need to buy groceries, cover the costs of housing, and to pay for other day-to-day expenses.

In order to help cover these costs, the SSA (Social Security Administration) spends billions of dollars on benefits programs for millions of disabled Americans every year.  If you have a medical issue that prevents you from working, such as chronic migraines, you may be eligible.  But first, you need to understand how your disability will be evaluated by the SSA. How do you qualify for benefits with chronic migraines?

migraine disability lawyer

Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Migraines

The SSA uses something called the Listing of Impairments to help make determinations for or against claims.  The Listing is essentially a large catalog of various illnesses and disabilities, with guidelines for evaluating how severe each condition is based on medical evidence.  In addition to the condition-specific guidelines for each health issue, the SSA also requires that regardless of condition:

  1. Your condition has lasted or will last for a minimum of 12 months.
  2. Your condition is not mild — it is severe.  The SSA wants to know that your disability prevents you from working.  If your health issue is relatively manageable and easy to control with treatment, your claim will be much weaker.

Chronic migraines are not mentioned in the Listing of Impairments.  However, that doesn’t mean you cannot qualify for benefits.

Can I Still Qualify for Benefits if My Condition Is Not Listed?

While migraines themselves are not explicitly mentioned, they cause many debilitating effects in sufferers.  For example, common side-effects of migraines include:

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Severe Pain
  • Visual Disturbances (Tunnel Vision, Photosensitivity)

Even if a condition is not mentioned in the Listing, applicants can still be awarded something called a medical-vocational allowance.  The purpose of the medical-vocational allowance is to evaluate claimants whose conditions are disabling, but which do not appear in the Listing of Impairments: for example, migraines.

Medical-vocational allowances are assessed by the DDS (Disability Determination Services).  One of the most important pieces of information your claims examiner will review is your RFC, or Residual Functional Capacity.

RFC gauges how much physical work you are able to perform.  For example, a patient with a chronic heart condition may be restricted to light or sedentary work, whereas a healthy person would be able to perform heavy work.  If your migraines prevent you from performing work, you may be able to qualify.

Our Philadelphia + Bucks County Disability Attorneys Can Help

Unfortunately, the hard truth is that qualifying for monthly benefits is a challenge. Statistically speaking, claimants are far more likely to be denied than approved for an award.  According to reports from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, in 2007 over 65% of all initial applications were rejected, meaning only 35% were approved.  Nearly two-thirds of all initial claims will be denied, and successive applications have an even worse rate of approval.

Even when you’re supported by medical evidence, applying for benefits is often a frustrating and complicated process.  An experienced disability lawyer can help strengthen your application, or represent you if you’ve already been denied. Call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates today at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.