The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't offer disability benefits specifically for a migraine—a severe headache and can last for hours, days, and even a week. Over 35 million people suffer from migraines with symptoms that include severe sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, and a blinding pain—usually on one side of the head. Because the SSA Blue Book does not include migraines in its compilation of impairments and conditions eligible for SS benefits, it’s often challenging to get disability compensation for this condition.  

However, if you’ve been diagnosed with migraines, it’s possible to receive SS benefits under certain circumstances. If the SSA determines that your headache symptoms are severe enough that you’re unable to perform at your job, and if they meet or compare with the criteria of one of the Blue Book listings, you may be approved for disability compensation.

Evidence to Support Migraine Disability Benefits

To be considered for disability benefits from the SSA, there is specific evidence you need to provide that will help prove the severity of your migraines. You’re more likely to be eligible for benefits due to your migraines if:

  • You have records and data that show you've tried available migraine treatments, which can include anti-nausea and pain medications, beta-blockers, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and triptans. You need to provide information about your medication, including prescription names and dosages, along with the reasons they didn’t help your symptoms. Showing that you've given the prescribed medications a fair chance provides evidence that you've tried to manage your migraines.
  • Your doctor includes notes he’s written during your visits about the frequency, duration, and intensity of your migraines.
  • You provide your own notes about these appointments.
  • You provide medical records of any trips to the emergency room.
  • You show that your migraines have continued for a year or more, or that your doctor expects that they will continue that long.


Because the SSA wants to determine how your symptoms affect your work performance, you need to prove that your migraines limit your functionality and make it impossible for you to work any type of job. In making that determination, the SSA will look at all the jobs you’ve held within the last 15 years and if your migraines would stop you from holding that job. The SSA will also look at your training and education to see if there are other jobs that you could perform even with your migraines.

When the SSA evaluates your claim and examines your medical records, they consider the following factors:

  • Do your migraines affect or limit your ability to understand instructions as they relate to your job? Do they interfere with your ability to concentrate?
  • Do your migraines limit or impact your ability to interact with co-workers, management, and others at your place of work?
  • Do your migraines interfere with your ability to lift, stand, walk, sit, or do normal tasks associated with your job?
  • Does the frequency of your migraines interfere with your ability to complete work goals?
  • Do your migraines cause you to miss work, and how often?

Let Keefe Law Help You

Getting disability benefits for chronic migraines can be a challenge. Let the attorneys at Keefe Law help handle your case. Contact Keefe Law to schedule a consultation, or get a free copy of the eBook, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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