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VA Disability for Migraine Headaches

When it comes to get the highest rating for a claim for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches, the game of baseball can prove a helpful metaphor.

Baseball fanatics love statistics.  We love stats because we can define how good a team or a player is based on a single number.

You can judge how well a team is playing a particular game by how may Runners in Scoring Position that they left on base – how many runners were stranded on 2nd base or 3rd base when the hitting team got their third out.

The more runners a team leaves stranded, the less likely they are to win.

Same thing in a claim for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches, in a lot of ways.

There are a lot of medical conditions that Veterans COULD get rated for, but that they do not. By not pursuing those claims, they are leaving runners on base. The more they leave on base, the more likely they are to lose their battle with the VA.

To be clear – I am NOT advocating that veterans file for every condition under the sun in the hopes that a few will be granted. These “kitchen sink” claims are a sure way to lose your VA disability claim.

VA Disability for Migraine Headaches is a common example.

As you can see from the list below, there are countless conditions that cause – or have as a symptom or consequence – headaches (or the dehydration that produces headaches).

Let’s say you are a Veteran with a 50% rating due to your Sleep Apnea.  Your sleep apnea is so severe that you have debilitating daytime headaches because of the Sleep Apnea.

Your headaches can be service-connected as secondary to a service connected disability like sleep apnea  and – depending on their severity – can garner up to a 50% rating.

In fact, a Veteran with a 50% rating for Sleep Apnea and a 50% rating for headaches would have a total rating of 80% – and be eligible for TDIU. (In fact, it would not be too hard to prove entitlement to TDIU, because the 50% headache rating considers that the condition produces severe economic inadaptability).

Yet rare is the veteran who actually claims VA Disability for Migraine Headaches due to sleep apnea …. even more rare is the Veteran that gets them properly rated, who gets the proper effective date, or who understands the VA Claims process well enough to steer a migraine claim to victory.

So, over the course of 3 posts – this is just TOO much information for one post – I’m going to tell you 3 things:

First, I will tell you how VA Disability for Migraine Headaches are translated into a monetary rating

Second, I will tell you what the terms in the rating criteria REALLY mean – and how to prove them up.

Third, I will give you some practical tips and pointers for fully developing and proving entitlement VA Disability for Migraine Headaches.

How are Claims for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches rated?

Once a condition is service-connected, the VA’s next step is to “rate” the condition.

This essentially means translating your symptoms and limitations from your condition into a percentage, which then equates to a monthly dollar amount.

When it comes to VA Disability for Migraine Headaches, the VA uses Diagnostic Code 8100 (38 C.F.R. § 4.124a, Diagnostic Code 8100) which is found in the Impairment Ratings Tables.  You can see the summary of the table rating for migraines  below:

10%   – Evidence of Characteristic Prostrating Attacks Due to Migraines that average 1 every 2 months, lasting over several months.

30% – Characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average of once a month over the last several months.

50% – Very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.

A couple points to note.

The highest SCHEDULAR rating you can get for  claim for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches is 50%.

But that does NOT mean – as some will tell you – that this is the highest rating you can get for the condition.  If your symptoms and limitations from your headaches are different from those listed above, you are entitled by law to an extra-schedular rating.

Extra-schedular ratings are tough to prove and win – and extremely difficult to convince the VA to consider. Most raters have never heard of the extra-schedular rating; fewer still know how to apply it.  You can read more about extra-schedular ratings by clicking here, where I talk about them in the context of a hearing loss claim.

Another point note is this: how many of the above symptoms of headaches are exclusively observable by a medical doctor?

None.  Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nein. Nyet. Nolo.

After the medical records diagnosing your headaches, and medical evidence of nexus (if you need it)medical evidence is often a very small part of rating a claim for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches.

Every single factor for rating headaches is capable of observation by the Veteran experiencing the symptoms or by someone that observes the symptoms in the Veteran.

At this point, whistles and bells should be sounding – and you should be thinking “Lay Evidence”.  When it comes to proving the highest possible rating for your headaches or migraines, Lay Evidence is vital.

Your lay evidence should focus on the 3 major criteria for rating a condition: the Frequency, Chronicity and Severity of the symptoms and limitations.

Your lay evidence should come from more than just you, the Veteran.  Family members, colleagues, golf buddies, hunting or fishing buddies – anybody that has witnessed the frequency, chronicity and severity of your migraine or headache symptomatology should be called on to provide lay evidence to support your headache rating proof.

Bottom line – if you are under-rated for your headaches in a  claim for VA Disability for Migraine Headaches,

I would be willing to bet a box full of hundred dollar bills it is because you did not submit enough 5-Star Lay Evidence to support a higher rating.

I discuss Lay Evidence – its power, how to develop it, and how to submit it properly – in the VA Claims Evidence Field Manual.

If you are a subscriber to the Veterans Law Blog® then you get FREE access to this eBook, as well as dozens of eBooks and Video training courses online.

VA Claims Evidence

Next up in this 3-part series: in Part 2, I will tell you what the terms in the rating criteria REALLY mean – and how to prove them up. In part 3, I will give you some practical tips and pointers for fully developing and proving entitlement VA Disability for Migraine Headaches.

If you’re just in over your head, though, or want to hand off your VA migraine disability claim to an attorney, my law firm represents veterans who are appealing a denial of the proper rating for their service-connected migraine condition


  1. Anthony

    Hi Chris can sleep apnea be claimed as Secondary SVC condition to a current va rated tension headaches svc connection?

    • Chris Attig

      Hi Anthony,

      Anything can be service connected secondary to anything, so long as you have a medical opinion saying your SC condition is aggravating another Non SC condition, or an opinion saying that your service connected condition caused another condition. Here are several posts/videos where we discuss secondary service connection.


  2. Jim

    Thanks to you I recently was awarded TDIU. With 70% PTSD and 10% hearing. I have more claims pending and will soon add another for maintainers, which I have had since Vietnam.

    • Chris Attig

      Congratulations, Jim! Great job doing all the leg-work, and glad the VLB helped!


  3. Bruce McCullough

    Chris, I just want to thank you for what you do. Your work taught me what I needed to know to win an NOD with a DRO. I used all of the tools you have made available and boy do they work when applied the way you say to. It takes time but the results are worth it. I just wish other Vets would listen when I tell them about the Veterans Law Blog and all the tools you provide. They are missing out on so much!

    • Chris Attig


      Thanks for the feedback! I’m so glad it helped – email me at and tell me about your win on the NOD + DRO … that will help me put more content out there that more Vets can benefit from!

      Congrats on your win!! Doesn’t it feel awesome to have power over the VA, finally?



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