The latest figures compiled in the American Migraine Study indicate that 11 million people in the United States suffer from migraines; five million of them report at least one strong episode per month, and more than half of all migraine patients will miss at least two work days each year. Thankfully, severe disability from chronic migraine conditions is not a widespread condition, but for some patients it may worsen to the point that they are not able to work.
How the SSA Looks at MigrainesSSA evaluators guide their determinations upon an internal publication titled Disability Evaluation under Social Security, which is also known as the “Blue Book.” This publication lists a number of physical conditions that may impair human functions down to a certain level of impairment. The conditions listed on the SSA Blue Book affect 14 body systems, but migraines are not specifically mentioned.
Not every physically disabling condition is discussed in the Blue Book, but some neurological conditions associated with migraines are listed therein. The most prominent condition in this regard is epilepsy.
It is important to note that although epileptic patients certainly live with a disability, the majority of them are actually able to hold down jobs, raise families and achieve success in their lives. Actors Richard Burton and Danny Glover come to mind as well as Olympic hockey medalist Chanda Gunn.
Should the SSA consider a disability claim filed by a migraine patient, evaluators will take some of the following records into consideration:
- Diagnostic and treatment files
- Laboratory tests
- Medication history
- Visits to the emergency room
SSA investigators may also interview health care professionals, relatives, associates and employers of the claimant for the purpose of making a disability determination.
Medical-Vocational Allowance Vs. Disability
Most people who receive economic benefits from the SSA based on their medical conditions do not actually get disability pay; they receive a medical-vocational allowance instead. These allowances are largely based on a consideration known as the residual functional capacity (RFC).
RFC determinations could be made for patients who suffer from chronic migraines if they miss more than two days of work each month or experience frequent interruptions while performing their duties. The process of reaching a conclusion on RFC starts with a primary health care practitioner or a migraine specialist; it is very important to get written opinions from physicians in this regard, and it is better if they are presented on an official RFC form published by the SSA. It is also important to gather documentary evidence such as medical records, but they should only be submitted upon request from SSA investigators.