Long-term disability is commonly thought to be associated with physical impairments. Yet, one of the most common causes for disability, migraine headaches, is not strictly physical in nature. Rather, it is a neurological condition. Chronic migraine headaches can be just as disabling as a purely physical condition such as degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis. However, there are many nuances surrounding disability claims based on migraine headaches. So it is important that you seek assistance from an experienced long term disability benefit attorney who can lead you through the common tricks and traps disability insurers rely on all too frequently.
What Are Migraines?
A migraine is a headache characterized with severe throbbing pain, typically to one side of the head, that significantly interferes with one’s ability to perform daily activities. Other associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine episode can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thus, it is unsurprising that migraine headaches can prevent an individual from functioning, let alone working on a consistent basis.
Steps to Follow to Gather Evidence for Your Migraine Disability Claim
Despite widespread awareness of this condition and its debilitating symptoms, disability insurers tend to deny disability claims based on migraine headaches quite frequently. Often times, the insurer will request ‘objective evidence’ of your condition as part of its evaluation of your disability claim. This presents a specific problem for claimants who suffer from migraine headaches because there is no specific objective testing measure to confirm the existence of headache. Relatedly, insurers are often skeptical of disability claims based on migraine headaches due to them being self-reported. They may also question past work history where you worked through headaches.
What can you submit in support of your claim then?
- You should still submit ‘objective’ evidence to the fullest extent possible. This includes treatment records from your doctors, one of whom is ideally a neurologist.
- Even if your symptoms are not improving, it is important to continue seeking treatment because your insurer almost certainly requires that you undergo ongoing treatment in order to be eligible for disability benefits.
- Likewise, it is equally important to continue taking your prescribed medications. Essentially, you need to demonstrate that you are doing all that you can in an attempt to improve your headaches.
- In addition, a detailed statement from your doctor can significantly improve your chances of getting your claim approved. Your doctor should detail how and why exactly your migraine headaches and associated symptoms prevent you from performing your job duties on a regular basis. Simply put, you can never have too much support from your treating doctors
You should submit evidence of your own, including a headache diary and personal statement. Your diary should be as detailed as possible regarding the frequency, length, and severity of your headaches. And you should outline any other related symptoms (i.e., keep a symptoms diary) that would make performing your job difficult. Moreover, you should keep track of the medication you take each day, as well as any related side effects, if any. Your personal statement should be just that – a firsthand account of your symptoms and how they preclude you from working and performing daily activities on a day-to-day basis. In similar fashion, it helps to submit witness statements drafted by individuals close to you who can speak directly to your ongoing difficulties functioning in light of your headaches.
What Can You Expect During the Disability Benefits Claim Process for Migraine Headaches?
While it will likely be difficult, you can ultimately prevail in getting your migraine-based disability claim approved, it is good to understand what to expect in a disability claim process.
- After filing your initial claim, you can likely expect a decision from your disability insurer within 45 days.
- If the disability claim is denied, you will have the opportunity to appeal that decision.
- If your appeal is denied, your disability policy may provide for a second level of appeal. If not, however, you would then be free to file a lawsuit against your insurer seeking all benefits due.
How Can Legal Help Benefit Your Disability Benefits Claim for Migraine Headaches
Given insurers’ dismissal of valid migraine headache claims, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced disability benefit lawyer who can help you put your best foot forward. The qualified attorneys at DeBofsky Law have represented hundreds of claimants who suffer from migraine headaches. So, you can trust that they will secure the disability benefits to which you are entitled. If you plan to apply for disability benefits or have already received a denial of your claim, don’t hesitate to reach out.