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Chronic Headaches and Social Security Disability: Is it Possible to Get Benefits?

Chronic Headaches and Social Security Disability: Is it Possible to Get Benefits?


For those whose headaches are persistent, severe, and do not respond to common pain medications, all of the aspects of normal life may become too burdensome to bear. If the pain prevents a person from sustaining regular employment, they sometimes file for Social Security Disability benefits. Often those cases are denied, and end up going through the appeals process.


If this situation sounds familiar, you might wonder whether it is possible to win Disability benefits for chronic headaches, and what it might take to convince Social Security of your claim.


Every claim for Social Security Disability benefits must show that the claimant is suffering from a medically determinable severe impairment. Social Security regulations state, “[y]our impairment(s) must result from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. Therefore, a physical or mental impairment must be established by objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source” (20 C.F.R. §404.1521).


This can pose a challenge for chronic headache sufferers. What this language means is that if a clear medical reason is determined to be the cause of your headaches, and that diagnosis causes sufficient difficulty regarding work, then you might stand a chance of becoming approved for benefits.


For others, who simply suffer headaches with no determined cause, the situation can be much more complicated and difficult. Regular visits with a neurologist who specializes in headaches can demonstrate a reasonable attempt at identifying the cause of headaches. If migraines or cluster headaches are diagnosed, the patient is expected to follow all directions regarding avoidance of possible triggers. Treatments are available to alleviate pain in many cases, such as prescription medications and oxygen treatments.


Occasionally, a claimant needs to pursue further medical investigation and documentation. If imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans have not yet been completed, running those tests could turn up a diagnosis.


If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability for chronic headaches, we can take a look at your case. If medical evidence seems to be the source of the denial, we could make recommendations for further investigation and documentation of your condition. Depending upon your circumstances, an approval of benefits upon appeal might be possible. Give us a call to learn more, and we’ll set up a consultation at no cost to you.