Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Guest Molly Clarke - "Migraine and SSD"

Molly Clarke is the Social Media Coordinator for Social Security Disability Help and contributes regularly to the Social Security Disability Help blog.

What You Should Know about Applying for SSDI or SSI with Migraines
If you suffer from migraines, you already know that they can be debilitating and often result in significant time lost at work. However, you may still be wondering whether or not your condition is severe enough to be considered a disability and therefore qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
If you have questions regarding migraines and disability benefits, look no further. The following article will provide you with a general overview of the disability benefit programs and will give you the information you need to begin the SSD application process.
SSD benefits are governed and distributed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA currently operates two main programs that provide benefits to individuals who have disabilities. These programs are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSDI and SSI, respectively).
SSDI provides financial assistance to disabled workers and their families. To qualify for SSDI, applicants are required to have earned an income and paid taxes into the system for a specific amount of time.  SSI is a needs based program that provides benefits to elderly and disabled individuals who earn very little income. To qualify for SSI, applicants cannot exceed very strict financial limitations.  In some cases, individuals may be able to qualify for benefits from both programs.
Learn more about the technical eligibility requirements for SSDI, here and SSI, here.
Definition of Disability
Although there are very specific medical requirements that individuals must meet in order to qualify for benefits from either program, there is one basic requirement that all applicants are required to meet—and that is matching the SSA’s definition of disability. The SSA considers a person disabled if they meet the following criteria:
  • You cannot do any type of work.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
Migraines and Social Security Disability Benefits
Typically, the SSA uses a guidebook of disabling conditions—called the blue book—to determine whether or not a person qualifies for disability benefits. Unfortunately, there is no listing in the blue book for chronic migraines. Although this can make it more difficult to qualify for benefits, it is certainly not impossible.
Individuals that get migraines as a result of another medical condition may be able to qualify under that condition instead. You can access a list of all disabling conditions, here.
If you do not meet or match the requirements of another listing, it is still possible to qualify. Rather than proving that you meet specific medical criteria, you will have to prove that your migraines regularly prevent you from performing work activities.  This may include concentrating, following directions, walking, standing, lifting, or interacting with others. The SSA will also evaluate the frequency and duration of your headaches to determine how much time away from work your condition may cause. It is important that you provide evidence of any other conditions you may also have. This is due to the fact that the SSA will evaluate the combined effects of all conditions that you have, rather than just the effects of your main condition.
Because your condition is not listed in the SSA’s blue book, you will have to provide the SSA with extensive medical documentation to support your claim. This documentation may include records of the following:
  • Your diagnosis.
  • Any hospitalizations or medical appointments.
  • Any treatments you’ve received and your response to them.
  • Any lab tests or diagnostic imaging.
  • Written statements from doctors and former employers that explain how your symptoms affect your ability to work.
Social Security Disability Application Process
Once you are ready to begin the SSD application process, you can do so online or in person at your local Social Security office. You should have your medical evidence as well as employment and financial records readily available.
It is important that you realize how difficult and complicated the application process may be. In fact, many initial SSD applications are denied. If your initial claim is denied, it is important that you do not give up. You are allowed to appeal this decision and continue to seek the benefits you need to survive.
For more information about the Social Security Disability application process, visit Social Security Disability Help or contact Molly Clarke at