50% Migraine Headache VA Rating

Many veterans develop migraine headaches as a result of their service.  Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) often result in migraine headaches.  These headaches can be very debilitating.

A veteran must show that their particular disability is the result of their military service in order to qualify for VA disability benefits.  But that is not the end of the road.  Even after receiving service connection for a disability, VA needs to rate the condition properly.

In this article, I will discuss the 50 percent rating for migraine headaches.  This rating is the highest rating allowed under the diagnostic code section for migraine headaches.  No matter how bad your headaches are or how frequent they are, you cannot receive more than a 50% rating.

If you are not familiar with how VA rates migraine headaches generally, I would suggest that you first read my article about a 30 percent migraine headache rating.  That article discusses how VA uses its diagnostic codes to rate different medical conditions.

Man with his hand on his head showing discomfort What must you show to qualify for a 50 percent rating for migraine headaches?

In order to qualify for a 50 percent rating, VA says that you must have, “with very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.”  Now, I know that is a mouthful.  To understand what this means, we need to break down several different terms:

  • Very frequent,
  • Completely prostrating
  • Prolonged
  • Productive of severe economic inadaptability

What does “very frequent” mean?

To define this term, we can look at some of the other migraine headache ratings.  At the 30 percent level, VA says that headaches need to average once a month over the last several months.  At the 10 percent level, they average once every two months over the last several months.

We know VA will likely require more than the average of once a month at the 50% level.  You may need to show two or three headaches a month to meet the “very frequent” requirement at the 50% level.

What about “completely prostrating”?

Prostrating means lying down.  In layman’s terms, this type of headache puts you in the bed or on the couch.

Many veterans we talk to are in that situation. Their headaches are so severe that they just have to go to bed and sleep or rest when it comes on.

You can also compare the difference in the language between the 30% and 50% level.  At 30%, the headache does not have to be “completely” prostrating.  But, at the 50% level, they add the word “completely”.  So, VA might rule you out at the 50% level if you are able to sit up or stand up as opposed to having to lie down.

What about “prolonged”?

“Prolonged” has to do with the length of the headaches.  They cannot just be temporary.  But, how long do they have to be?

Also, does the severity of the headache affect the length requirement? If you get a terrible migraine that last for 45 minutes, would that qualify as a “prolonged” attack.

Quite simply, there are a number of questions with the use of “prolonged”.  You might argue that a headache which you had for 4 hours which was minor most of the time but completely prostrating for about 15 or 30 minutes qualified as a “completely prostrating and prolonged attack”.

How do I show “severe economic inadapability”? Man in front of a computer with his hand on his head showing an uneasy feeling

Severe economic inadaptability seems like fancy language which means that it affects your ability to work.  Having severe headaches which require you to lie down 2 to 3 times a month can certainly do that.

If you fall in this category, your headaches will cause you to miss multiple days of work a month (unless they just happen to fall on weekends or holidays).  Missing that much work will likely interfere with your work productivity.

It will also cause you to use up all of your vacation or PTO time.  At that point, you will likely run into problems with your employer.  They may let you go or you may simply be unable to continue working.

Can I get TDIU benefits if I have a 50% migraine headache rating?

Because the 50% migraine headache rating level has “severe economic inadaptability” built into it, I always think it is a good idea to consider whether you could qualify for TDIU if you have a 50% migraine headache rating from VA.  The whole focus of TDIU is whether your VA disabilities prevent you from working.

Qualifying for TDIU will get you to the 100% level which will likely provide a large increase in your VA benefits.  So, if you are at the 50% level, filing for TDIU is certainly something you should consider.

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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