Understanding VA Disability Ratings for Migraines

The National Headache Foundation estimates that more than 29.5 million Americans, including many Veterans, suffer from migraines.  Migraines can cause debilitating impairment in everyday life lasting for hours and days, and often require a sustained treatment regimen.

Migraines are one of the most common disabilities in Veterans, and you can get a disability rating if you meet specific criteria.  Here’s what you need to know.

Are Headaches a VA Disability?

Headaches are a VA disability.  They fall under the diagnostic CFR code 8100 for migraines which is the VA’s schedule for rating disabilities.

Migraines are severe headaches that are brought on by several possible triggering symptoms.  These episodes last longer and are more intense than other headaches caused by sinus problems, tension, or other similar causes.

Unfortunately, doctors who do not have enough experience to spot the difference often diagnose migraines as other kinds of headaches.  That can undermine a Veteran’s efforts to connect their migraines to a service-related event so that they can get a VA disability rating.

Causes of Service-Related Migraines

Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Alcohol
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to weather, light, and sound
  • Intense throbbing in one area of the head
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Depression
  • Tumors
  • Metabolic disorders

In addition to these, Veterans may suffer from migraines that are due to service-related spinal problems, traumatic brain injury, tinnitus, eye injuries, and other similar conditions.

How The VA Assigns Disability Ratings For Migraines

The VA rates migraines at 0%, 10%, 30%, and 50% based on the following criteria related to the frequency of prostrating. Prostrating means that a person experiences extreme weakness due to migraines and must lie down for an extended period.

VA RatingDescription
0%Infrequent episodic attacks.
10%A Veteran must have characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over the last several months.
30%A Veteran must have characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over the last several months.
50%A Veteran must have frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.  The VA will grant this rating if you are incapacitated enough that your headaches disrupt your work, making you most likely unemployable.

The VA will examine your disability claim looking for evidence that your migraine is “prostrating,” meaning it forces you to stop what you’re doing and get medical attention. In the past, the VA required documentation that you went to an emergency room for treatment. However, this analysis was flawed because doctors often gave prescriptions for migraines that could be taken at home instead of constantly visiting the ER.

Although documented trips to the ER help establish a disability claim, this criteria is no longer necessary as long as a Veteran meets other conditions.

Nothing in the Migraines Diagnostic Code requires a Veteran to be completely unable to work to qualify for a 50% rating.  You can still qualify for the highest migraine rating and still work or be able to work.  A 50% rating can be awarded if you’ve been fired from a job because you missed work so often due to the severity of your migraines. You may also qualify if you’ve used all your sick leave at work, and it’s affecting your ability to earn a living, but you’re still working.

Current VA Disability Rates for Migraines

Your monthly Veterans disability compensation payment amount is based on your disability rating and details about dependent family members.  If you have a 10% disability rating, you will not receive additional benefits if you have a dependent spouse, child, or parent.  Also, when a dependent spouse receives Aid and Attendance, you will receive an additional amount over your base disability payment.

The following 2023 rates are what you can expect to receive if your disability rating is approved.

Dependent status

10% disability rating (in U.S. $)


30% disability rating (in U.S. $)50% disability rating (in U.S. $)
Veteran alone (no dependents)165.92508.051,041.82
With spouse (no parents or children)



With spouse and 1 parent (no children)



With spouse and 2 parents (no children)



With 1 parent (no spouse or children)



With 2 parents (no spouse or children)




How to Get a VA Disability Rating For Migraines

The VA recognizes migraines as a service-connected VA disability if a Veteran can prove a connection between their migraine disability and military service.

The criteria for obtaining a migraine disability rating are:

  • The Veteran must have a valid diagnosis of migraines and a description of these migraines as they occurred in the past and in the present.
  • Evidence must show that the headache episodes meet the definition of “prostrating.”
  • The Veteran must have tried to control their migraines through a “rational medical treatment program.”
  • The Veteran must show compliance with past and current treatments.
  • The Veteran’s doctor (preferably a neurologist) must provide a written instruction plan that defines what the Veteran must do when suffering from a migraine. This set of instructions must be included in the Veteran’s health record.
  • The doctor’s plan must require the Veteran to stop all activities and use the prescribed medication. This stoppage must interfere with the Veteran’s work performance and be documented. If the Veteran only needs to take a short rest period once a week, this will likely not meet the requirements.
  • Evidence must show that the Veteran’s doctor reviewed the plan at least every six months.

You can get your migraine rated if you meet all of these conditions.  Veterans often create a diary to show the frequency and severity of their migraines to help document their symptoms.  This documentation is used when working with a physician to establish a claim.

Another way to get a VA disability rating for migraines is through a secondary service connection.  Secondary conditions may include mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.  If the migraine relates to other service-connected conditions, then a Veteran may obtain service-connected disability for migraines.

However, if migraines are a secondary disability, then you must claim the primary medical condition or injury as well as the migraines.

How Service Connection is Established for Migraine Headaches

To get a service connection for migraine headaches, Veterans generally must show proof of the following three things:

  • An in-service event, injury, or illness
  • A current diagnosis by a medical professional
  • A medical nexus, or link, between the in-service event, injury, or illness and current diagnosis.

Veteran Ratings and our network of consultants and medical professionals can assist you with these last two criteria to give you a much better chance of claim approval on your initial submission.

Documentation Needed for VA Disability Claims for Migraines

A Veteran filing a claim must show evidence of the severity and frequency of their migraines.

Supporting evidence should include:

  • Past and current medical records
  • A thorough and well-thought-out Statement in Support of Claim using form VA 21-4138.
  • The Veteran’s headache diaries
  • Buddy statements from friends and loved ones
  • Employment records showing absenteeism
  • Any other documentation that helps support the claim

Veteran Ratings, our consultants, and our network of medical professionals have years of experience in assisting Veterans as they gather supporting documentation.  This expertise leads to a high rate of initial approvals, often at the highest possible disability rating.



Migraine C&P Exams

The VA claim exam, called a C&P exam, differs from a regular medical appointment and only occurs if you file a compensation or pension claim for the first time. The VA uses these exams to help determine if your disability is service-connected, the level of your disability, or if your condition should receive an increased rating due to it worsening.

Exams may last as little as 15 minutes or an hour or longer, depending on the circumstances of your case.  An examiner may ask questions, conduct a limited physical exam or simply review your files with you.

The best way to go through a C&P exam is to be well prepared with complete medical evidence and documentation you submit with your application.  For first-time filers, Veteran Ratings consulting partners will help prepare you on what to expect at your C&P exam.

We’ll walk you through the entire process leading up to your C&P exam if you are a first-time filer. If you are seeking an increase, we will not only guide you through the process but also refer you to our private network of doctors who will provide a medical examination.

How To Strengthen Your Claim And Get The Highest VA Rating For Migraines

The best evidence for your migraine disability claim will give you the strongest chance for approval at the highest rating. The more quality documentation you can provide, including medical records, buddy statements, occupational impacts, and other supporting evidence, is critical in the submission process.

Veteran Ratings can pair you up with a Veteran consulting partner that can guide you in what evidence and documentation is needed for your migraine claim.  You may also be guided to one or more medical professionals in our partner’s nationwide network of providers who are experienced in developing the documentation you need to strengthen your claim.

We have a 95% success rate in assisting Veterans with their initial claim submissions.  Meaning you’ll save time and gain peace of mind knowing you are creating your best chance for approval.

What to Do if Your Veteran Disability Claim for Migraines is Denied

If your claim is denied, you will receive a denial letter from the VA on their decision. You can use this information to determine what new evidence you should submit with your appeal, which you must do within one year after you get the decision letter.

Due to the complex nature of supplemental claims and appeals, Veteran Ratings and our consulting partners only guide current clients.

Veteran Ratings: Advocating for Fair Compensation for Veterans

Submitting a VA disability claim can be daunting, so it makes sense to get help from Veteran Ratings to help guide you through the entire process.  We have a 95% initial submission success rate, and through our experienced network of consultants and medical professionals, we can significantly increase your chances for approval of your PTSD claim at the highest possible rating.

FAQs About VA Migraine Ratings

Are migraines from PTSD a VA disability?

Yes, if you can medically link your migraines to PTSD as a secondary service connection.  Migraines, and many other types of headaches, can be medically linked to numerous other service-connected disabilities.  You must be able to show migraine causation, meaning the secondary disability must be shown to be “proximately caused by” or “proximately aggravated by” another service-connected disability.

Three essential elements must be satisfied to service-connect migraines as a secondary condition.

  • A medical diagnosis of migraines or any other type of headache condition
  • Evidence of a service-connected primary disability (such as TBI, tinnitus, PTSD, depression, anxiety, sinusitis, rhinitis, cervical strain), AND
  • Medical nexus evidence establishing a connection (nexus) between the current disability (migraines) as proximately due to, the result of, or aggravated by another service-connected disability rated at 0% or higher.

How do I get 50% for migraines in VA?

To get the highest possible rating for a migraine disability, you must be able to document you are experiencing very frequent, completely prostrating, and prolonged migraine attacks that create severe economic inadaptability.  In other words, your migraines must make it either extremely challenging to hold a job or your disability has made you fully unemployable.

How long does it take to receive a decision on a VA disability claim for migraines?

According to the VA, it takes slightly over 100 days to complete disability-related claim reviews as of June 2023.

Can I receive VA disability benefits for migraines even if they are not service-connected?

Migraine headaches are eligible for VA disability benefits only if you can show they either began in service or are related to an in-service event.

Get In Touch

If you are struggling with your VA disability rating or want to learn more about our service, please get in touch with our Veteran Ratings team.

Don’t hesitate! We are happy to answer any of your questions and provide guidance for your unique case.

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