Migraines and Social Security Disability Insurance2017-12-19T06:13:45+00:00

Migraines & Social Security Disability Insurance

Learn more about the SSDI approval process for individuals with Migraines.

SSDI Eligibility Guidelines: Migraines

Determine if an individual is working (engaging in substantial gainful activity) according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,170 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Conclude the migraines disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:

  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting


  Migraines require medically equating medical listings 11.02 and 11.03 in the medical listing 11.00 Neurological, and depends upon the frequency, severity, duration and residuals of the migraines.

11.02 Epilepsy – convulsive epilepsy (grand mal or psychomotor) documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least three months of prescribed treatment. This also includes daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures) or nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the day.

11.03 Epilepsy – non-convulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor or focal) documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once weekly, in spite of at least three months of prescribed treatment. This also includes alteration of awareness or loss of consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day.

 Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their migraines. If the SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.


Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine migraines disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.

For example, a person with migraines could be found to be disabled at any age. The inability to meet any of the basic mental demands of work would entitle a claimant to disability benefits.

Social Security Rulings 85-15 and SSR 96-9p both describe how an individual must, on a sustained basis, be able to understand, remember and carry out simple instructions; make simple work-related decisions; respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, usual work situations and to deal with changes in a routine work setting.

A substantial loss of ability to meet any one of these basic work related activities would severely limit the potential occupational base for all age groups and justify a finding of disabled. A person who has a medically determinable severe impairment of migraines and is unable to understand, remember or carry out simple instructions would be found disabled based on his/her mental residual function capacity.

SSDI & Migraines: A Personal Story

Read how one person’s journey to approval was made easier with True Help.

Migraines Derail SC Woman

Greenville, South Carolina – Crystal Kelly thought she’d still be working and in a relationship with her boyfriend, who had recently retired from the Navy…

Ready for True Help with SSDI?

empower is a personalized online tool that guides you through the application process and can help you use these benefits to return to work, if and when you medically recover. Get started by taking our free SSDI Assessment to determine your likelihood of qualifying.

Get Started