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Do migraines qualify as a disability under SSDI?

As you may already know, in order for the Social Security Administration to consider your application for benefits, your condition must first meet the definition of a disability. According to SSA, a condition is considered a disability if it a.) will last at least a year or end in death, b.) prevents an individual from doing gainful activities and c.) forces an individual out of work for which there is no suitable alternative available.

While some conditions, such as those found on the Compassionate Allowances list, have already been vetted by SSA – meaning they meet the definition of a disability – there are many more conditions in existence that can be equally as debilitating. In order for SSA to agree with an SSDI applicant on this point, a person's condition must meet a medical equivalent already recognized as disabling by SSA.

To see how this works, we'll apply this process to the question above, hopefully providing today's readers with an answer to the question:

Do migraines qualify as a disability under SSDI?

In most cases, migraine sufferers experience severe headaches that are often described as throbbing or stabbing in nature. These types of headaches can last for hours or sometimes days, oftentimes leaving a sufferer nauseous and incredibly sensitive to light and sound. Aside from taking prescribed medications, sufferers often need to lie down for extended periods of time, helplessly waiting out their migraines until relief comes.

Because migraines are not listed as a Compassionate Allowance, SSA will look instead at a medical equivalent in order to determine eligibility for disability benefits. The symptoms described above match those indicated in the Listing of Impairments under section 11.03 for epilepsy, non-convulsive. Because there is a medical equivalent, a person suffering from migraines might qualify for SSDI benefits if they were to apply.

It's important to point out though that just because a person's condition has a medical equivalent, there is no guarantee an application will be approved. With this in mind, our readers should remember that they have the right to an attorney and may exercise this right at any time during the application process, not just during an appeal.

Sources: The Social Security Administration, "Finding Disability Based on the Listing of Impairments," Accessed Oct. 1, 2015

The Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: What We Mean By Disability," Accessed Oct. 1, 2015

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