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Migraines are not just a headache. Migraines are a severe headache that often comes with nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity. However, migraine symptoms are different for everyone. But, they are known to be vascular headaches that create serious head pain. The head pain is caused by the activation of nerve fibers that are within the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

There are many types of headaches, but there are two types of migraine headaches. First, there is Migraine with aura. Second, there is migraine without aura. Migraine with aura is accompanied by visual, sensory, or other central nervous system symptoms. The symptoms of a migraine without aura are nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and phonophobia (sound sensitivity). Migraine without aura is the most common form of migraine.

If you are suffering from severe migraine headaches, despite medical treatment, then it is possible for you to obtain disability benefits. In order to win benefits, you must prove that your migraines are keeping you from working and that your migraines have lasted for over one year. Winning benefits is not easy, especially in a migraine case. You will have a better chance of winning benefits if you hire an attorney with experience in Social Security law. Cannon Disability is the right firm for you. Contact us today for help with your case.

MIGRAINES doctor holding sign that states migraines


It’s difficult to predict what cause migraines headaches. However, there are risk factors that may make you more likely to have this type of headache. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have relatives with the disease.
  • Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men. In particular, women between the ages of 15 and 55 are more likely to have migraines. It is possible that women have headaches because of the influence of hormones.
  • Stress level. You may get migraines more often if you are under stress. Stress at work or at home can trigger a migraine.
  • Smoking.


If you have a migraine with an aura, then you are having what is known as a classic migraine. An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. The aura usually happens before the headache pain beings, but it can sometimes appear during or even after the headache. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.

An aura produces symptoms that may include:

  • Seeing bright flashing dots or lights.
  • Blind spots or white spots in your vision.
  • Numb or tingling skin.
  • Speech changes, like slurred speech.
  • Ringing in your ears.
  • Temporary vision loss in one or both eyes.
  • Seeing wavy or jagged lines.
  • Changes in smell or taste.

Migraines can range from a mild headache to a severe headache and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Sometimes, migraines can last longer. If they do, you should seek medical treatment.


A migraine without aura is known as a common migraine. This type of headache strikes without the warning that an aura gives. The symptoms are the same, but the aura phase doesn’t happen.


Silent migraines are migraines that occur without head pain.  This type of migraine includes the aura symptoms, but not the headache that normally follows.


A retinal migraine occurs when you experience a partial or complete loss of vision in one of your eyes. This loss of vision is temporary. The loss of vision occurs along with dull pain behind the eye. Then, that pain spreads to the rest of your head. You should always report a retinal migraine to your doctor, because it could be a sign of a more serious issue.


Primary headache disorders are a collection of chronic headaches that include migraines, tension headaches, and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias. These headaches are normally severe enough to require medication and emergency room visits. The purpose of the emergency visit is to determine what kind of headache you are having. The emergency room doctor can determine if there is some other reason for the headache, such as an infection or brain tumor. Once the doctor knows the type of headache, then the doctor can start medication and provide therapy to manage the headache.


Tension headaches cause pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, face, jaw, or neck. And, they are usually associated with muscle tightness in these areas. Although they are painful, they are not migraines.

There are two types of tension headaches: episodic and chronic. Episodic tension headaches are divided into infrequent episodic tension headaches and they don’t usually require medical treatment. However, frequent tension headaches may require medical management. Chronic tension headaches and frequent tension headaches may cause disability. This depends on how often the headaches occur, the severity of the symptoms, and the functional limitations they cause.


If you suffer from chronic migraines or any other form of severe headaches, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. To determine if your migraines are severe enough to qualify for these benefits, the SSA will follow one of their rulings. This ruling is Social Security Ruling 19-4p.

Under this ruling, the SSA will consider whether your migraines or other headache conditions equal listing 11.02 for epilepsy. Migraines, like seizures, interfere with your ability to function during a normal workday. Therefore, the SSA is comparing the frequency and severity of your migraines to seizure activity.

Therefore, you must be able to show that you have migraines at least once a week for at least three consecutive months. Or you must show that your migraines occur at least once every two weeks for three consecutive months. You must also have this level of migraine frequency despite following treatment from your doctor.  Additionally, to equal the listing you must have a severe limitation in at least one of the following areas:

  • physical function (such as standing or balancing)
  • understanding and using information
  • interacting with others, like coworkers, supervisors, and the public
  • concentrating on and completing tasks
  • adapting to change
  • managing your emotions
  • taking care of yourself


To win benefits, you must submit medical evidence that shows you receive ongoing treatment from a doctor for you migraines. Your medical records should discuss your migraine symptoms. Additionally, they should note how often you are having migraines despite treatment. If your doctor orders tests, like an MRI or CT scan, to figure out why you are having migraines, then those tests should be part of the medical record. Learn more here about the importance of medical records in your Social Security case.

The SSA will also be looking at your medical record to determine how often you have migraines. Also, they will review your records to see if you are compliant with treatment and are taking the medications that your doctor tells you to take. It is also possible, because you have severe migraines, that you have gone to ER or hospital for treatment. The medical records you submit to the SSA must include those visits as well.

Medical records are the best evidence, because they will show if your doctor supports your claim for benefits. Your attorney will be able to give your doctor specific forms to fill out that will prove you cannot work. To learn more about what you need from your doctor to prove your disability case, read here. Additionally, your attorney can collect all of your records. Collecting medical records is not easy. We prefer it when our clients collect their own medical records, because they usually get them from their doctor for free. However, if you cannot do it, we can.


If you do not equal the seizure listing, the SSA will examine your residual functional capacity (RFC).

The RFC is the medical assessment of what you can physically and mentally do in a work setting. It is the definition of your limits after taking into account all of your medical conditions, including your migraines. For example, if your migraines keep you laying down in a dark room for 4-5 days a month, then it is likely that you will miss work 4-5 days per month. This should be part of your RFC, because it will prevent you from working.

In terms of physical limits, the SSA defines your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday based on your medical records. Find out more about how the SSA defines work here.

In order to figure out your physical RFC, the SSA will take into account what your doctor says in your medical records. Also, the SSA will review any statements from their doctors. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to  a consultative examination. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s consultative exam.

The SSA will also consider descriptions about your migraines from you and your family, neighbors and friends. If you have severe migraines, then keep a daily journal that documents how often and how long your migraines last. This can be used as evidence for your case. Additionally, your family and friends can write statements about how often you experience headaches. They can also write about how severe your symptoms are and how often your migraines confine you to bed. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work. Also, find out more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines here.


At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for SSDI and SSI benefits for migraines. There are many forms to complete when you first apply for benefits. We will make sure you complete the forms properly. Also, we can help you submit your application. Or, if you prefer you can file your own application online at Social Security’s website.

Additionally, if you can’t apply online, you can file an application by calling the SSA’s phone number, 1-800-772-1213. Or you can schedule an appointment at the local SSA office near you. Then, you can apply in person.

If you need help with the application process, contact the lawyers and staff at Cannon Disability Law to help you. We recommend filing for benefits through your Social Security attorney. Your lawyer will make sure that your application is complete. Additionally, your lawyer can submit your medical records. She can also submit other important information with your SSD application. Of course, you can also apply without legal assistance. Some people prefer to apply on their own. Then, if they receive a denial they hire an attorney. Either way, you have a better chance of winning benefits if you hire an attorney with experience.


While many people seeking benefits apply on their own, we do not think it is the best course of action. The SSA is looking for particular information to see if you can be paid benefits. Why not start with hiring a lawyer? The lawyer can submit your information for you. This may shorten the waiting time for a decision. However, even if you hire a lawyer to help submit your application, you may still receive a denial. Most people receive a denial after the initial application. Do not give up.  Additionally, if you receive a denial, make sure you file a timely appeal.

If DDS denies your claim for migraine headaches, you can file an appeal. You’re more likely to win your Social Security benefits on appeal than at the initial application stage. Hiring an experienced lawyer to help with your appeal improves your odds of winning benefits.

If your claim is granted, the SSA will send you an award letter. The award letter will explain your monthly benefit amount. It will also state if there are any back benefits owed to you.  Additionally, the award letter will tell you when you can expect to receive your future benefit payments.


You do not need to try to win migraine benefits by yourself. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. That way, you can focus on your health. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

  • Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
  • Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
  • Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
  • Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
  • Help you confirm your visit to your Consultative Examination
  • Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
  • Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
  • Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
  • Read more about vocational experts here
  • Learn more about medical expert testimony here
  • Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
  • Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. Send it in quickly.

Additionally, once you receive a denial, you have 60 days to file an appeal. You must also meet the time limit set by the SSA. If you do not, then you will have to start the process over again. That means you will lose any benefits you could receive on any prior application.


When you contact Cannon Disability Law, you will receive a free review of your case. If we accept your migraine headache case, you do not have to pay any money upfront to hire us. The reason you do not pay us any money upfront is that we represent all of our clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that if we do not win your case, you do not owe us an attorney fee. It also means that if we win your case, you pay us out of your back benefit.

What does a free review of your case mean? It means that we will answer your questions about your Social Security case for free. If you don’t know how to apply for benefits, then we will help you. Likewise, if you want to become a client or you are wondering if you have a good SSD case, then we will tell you.

But, a free review does not mean we are your attorney. First, we have to accept your case. Much of our decision on whether we take your case depends on what you tell us. Therefore, when you call, make sure you explain all of your physical and mental conditions. For example, if in addition to migraines, you have an anxiety, then tell us about it.

Likewise, if you have a physical condition, like back pain due to arthritis, then don’t forget to tell us about a back operation you may have had. Every physical and mental condition, in addition to your migraines, should be taken into account. You want SSD and SSI benefits to replace your income and you want a great attorney to help you. Therefore, contact us today.


If you are suffering from chronic migraines, you may be wondering whether the Social Security Administration will approve your claim for SSD and SSI benefits. If so, call Cannon Disability. We are the only law firm helping SSD and SSI clients in Utah and Nevada with over 30 years of experience. For example, we are rated in the top three SSD lawyers in the state of Utah.

You can hire us for free (no money down), because we offer a free review of your case. Also, we work for free until we win your case. You do not have to pay an attorney fee until we win your benefits. If we don’t win your case, you never owe an attorney fee. If you want to learn more about attorney fees, read here.

We are also rated in the top three SSD lawyers in the state of Nevada. Find out more about our Nevada legal experience here. We also help clients in many other states. We also have clients in Idaho, Colorado, and California. Idaho SSDI benefits information can be found here. Likewise, information about Colorado benefits is here. Finally, California benefits information is here. Wherever you live, we will help you get your SSDI benefits and fight for the benefits the SSA owes you under the law.

If you want to learn more about our lawyers, then read our About Us page. For instance, Andria Summers is an amazing advocate. She can also help you with your Medicare plan. Additionally, she has won thousands of SSD cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping SSD and SSI clients for thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has years of experience helping people obtain their benefits. You can trust us to help you win your SSD and SSI benefits for migraines. Contact us today.

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