Did you know migraines may effect 30% of combat veterans? A migraine is not a normal headache. In fact, it is a headache so severe that the veteran may vomit and have extreme sensitivity to light and sound. As a result, it can be extremely important that the VA rates you properly for your migraine disability. Migraines are considered a “high value” VA claim. As a result, migraines can be rated as high as 50%!
How Will The VA Rate My Migraines?
You can expect the VA to use three key metrics to rate your VA claim for migraines.
- Frequency – Is this a once a year issue? It is a once a week issue?
- Duration – How long does each migraine last?
- Severity – Is this just a normal headache? Or is is prostrating?
How Does The VA Use Those Metrics?
The VA utilizes those three metrics to determine where you will be rated:
- 0% – With less frequent attacks
- 10% – With characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over the last several months
- 30% – With characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over the last several months
- 50% – With very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability
The Migraine Log (Your Assignment)
If you suffer from migraines- it is very important that you track your migraines. Therefore, this log will become “lay evidence” in your ongoing claim. You will often see “lay evidence” referred to as a personal statement. It is your report of what happened. Ultimately, is not medical evidence, but it is a way to clearly illustrate the nature of your disability.
It is important that you clearly note the frequency, duration, and severity of your migraines in your log.
Bad Log Entry Example: “Had a migraine on December 2nd.”
Good Log Entry Example: “I had a 4 hour long migraine on December 2nd. I vomited twice and had to lay down in a dark room. I missed the last two hours of my shift at work.”
If you were in charge of rating your VA claim for migraines- who would you rate higher?
So How Do I Win This Migraine Claim?
All WINNING VA claims have three things in common. As a result, you will need:
A Current Diagnosis:
It is not enough that you know you have migraines. Consequently, you must have a medical provider diagnose you with migraines. In addition, you must submit this diagnosis with your VA claim.
You need to prove that your migraines originate from active duty. This referred to as proving a direct service-connection. Typically, you will submit medical records from active duty that show you being treated for migraines. In addition, you can also submit “buddy letters” to help prove direct service connection.
However, you can also prove that your migraines exist as a secondary condition to another service connected condition. For example, perhaps your PTSD is aggravating your migraines. You only need to prove one form of connection. As a result, either direct or secondary connection will work to get a rating.
This will probably be the easiest or most difficult portion of your claim. You need to prove “nexus” (the link) between your current diagnosis and your service-connected diagnosis. It is not enough to prove you have migraines now, and that you had migraines on active duty.
You need to prove that the active duty migraines are still the same migraines you suffer with. Unfortunately, nexus becomes more difficult each year. However, it is absolutely possible to service-connect an issue decades after your service.
What Is A Prostrating Migraine?
If you intend to purse a 100% VA disability rating- it is essential that the VA being properly rating you. As a result, you need to understand “prostrating” and “completely prostrating.” This is the VA’s way of saying a migraine so severe that you had to lie down. Thankfully, the VA typically includes the inability to sit or stand as prostrating.
Ultimately, it is essential that you properly document every migraine episode. Therefore, your job is to paint a picture of the frequency, duration, and severity of your migraines. As a result, the VA will be able to properly rate you. There is a substantial difference between the VA rating for infrequent, mild migraines and frequent prostrating migraines.
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