30% Migraine Headache Ratings

Many veterans develop migraine headaches as a result of their service.  Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) often result in migraine headaches.  TBIs also result in other medical conditions as well, some of which VA presumes to arise secondary to the TBI.

In order to qualify for VA disability benefits, a veteran must show that their particular disability is the result of their military service.  But, even after receiving service connection for a disability, the veteran needs to make sure VA rates the condition properly.

30% image How are migraine headaches rated?

VA ratings come from VA’s regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  Different conditions have different “diagnostic codes”.

For migraine headaches, VA uses diagnostic code 8100.  This diagnostic code falls within the “neurological conditions and convulsive disorders” sections of VA’s diagnostic codes.

VA rates migraine headaches using a couple of different factors.  These factors are:

  1. The frequency of the migraine attacks over the last several months
  2. The severity of the headaches when they do occur

What must you show to qualify for a 30 percent rating for migraine headaches?

In order to qualify for a 30 percent rating, VA says that you must have, “characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over the last several months.”  To understand what this means, we need to break down several different terms:

  • Characteristic,
  • Prostrating
  • The last several months

To understand these terms, it is helpful to compare it to the definitions for a 10 percent rating and a 50 percent rating.  The only difference between a 10 percent and a 30 percent rating is the frequency of the migraines.

Man holding his head in bed in pain The 10 percent rating averages one “characteristic prostrating attack” every two months “over the last several months”.  The 30 percent rating averages one a month over the same time frame.

But, that still does not necessarily explain what characteristic and prostrating mean.  Characteristic means typical.  Prostrating means lying down.

When I think of migraine headaches, I think of someone’s head hurting and needing to lie down.  Often, they need to do so in a dark room.  So, a characteristic prostrating attack would be a typical migraine that causes you to need to lie down.

We can also compare it to what VA requires for a 50 percent rating.  With a 50 percent rating, VA says they have to be “completely prostrating” and “prolonged attacks”.

In my mind, deleting the word completely from the 30 percent rating means that your attacks are still prostrating but not completely so.  Maybe the migraine requires you to lie down in bed or on the couch, but you can get up some and then lie down again when it becomes more severe.

How frequent do the migraines have to be for a 30 percent rating?

VA’s migraine regulation says that the “characteristic prostrating attack” must occur “an average of once a month over the last several months.  The averaging part of the regulation is pretty easy.  However, what period of time VA uses can matter in whether you qualify for a 10 percent or a 30 percent rating.

Suppose you had the following “characteristic prostrating attacks”:

  • One this month
  • None the month before that
  • One the month before that
  • Two the month before that

You have averaged one “characteristic prostrating attach” per month for the last four month.  That looks like a 30 percent rating.

But, if VA only looked at the last 3 months then you would have average 0.67 “characteristic prostrating attacks) per month over the last three months.  That meets the 10 percent standard but not the 30 percent standard.

How long do the migraines have to last?

At the 10 and 30 percent levels, the VA regulation only talks about the migraines being “characteristic”.  That could potentially refer to the length of the migraine, but it could also refer to what you feel while having the migraine.

At the 50 percent level, VA uses a general term about the length of the migraine.  They says the migraines must be “prolonged”.  So, 30 percent migraine attacks do not have to be “prolonged” since that term is omitted.

Because prolonged is omitted, your headaches can be shorter in duration and still qualify you for the 30 percent rating.  Often, your rating decision from VA will tell you why they rated you at 10 percent instead of 30 percent or 30 percent instead of 50 percent.

Going through these rating decisions piece by piece will help you see which part you may or may not have met.  Understanding the different parts of VA’s migraine rating diagnostic code can help you know what evidence you need to develop to prove the appropriate rating level.  This way you can make sure you receive the proper rating from VA.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

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