Are Migraines Considered A Disability?


Asked by oscmd

Are Migraines Considered A Disability?

I have chronic migraines from stress. I also have ocular/retinal migraines which usually cause a 1-2 hour period of severe visual impairment. The ocular migraines occur with no forewarning. I want to continue to work but not drive 2 hours to get there as it is a safety issue. I have asked my employer for an accommodation based on my migraines, and now I have to prove that it is a disability. I am not looking to collect on benefits unless I am forced to.


Hi oscmd,

Yes, Migraine is the 12th most disabling disorder in the US and headache disorders cause more than 1 percent of all disability and 9 percent of all lost labor in the US every year.

One of the most important things is to get an accurate diagnosis. To simplify matters and make it easier for people to get information and treatment, doctors usually go by the gold standard for diagnosis, the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICHD-II). Under ICHD-II, there is no diagnosis of "optical Migraine." We do see it used, but doctors use it differently, so it really doesn't tell anyone what type of Migraine you actually have. I'll give you some information that will hopefully be help you. If you'd like to start off with these; Ocular, Optical, and Opthalmic Migraines and The Type of Migraine Does Matter.

Trigger identification and management is an important part of Migraine management and preventing Migraines. You may have some triggers that you can avoid, thus preventing Migraines brought on by those triggers. Do you know what any of your triggers are? When working to identify triggers one of the best tools is a good Migraine diary. You can read more about this and download a free diary workbook in our article Your Migraine and Headache Diary.

You are so right about not driving with a Migraine, it is very dangerous because our reaction time is slower during an attack and if you have visual aura and can't see, well, that explains a lot. Check out Migraines and Our Driver's License when you have a chance.

Last but not least, take a look at our Support, Advocacy, Legal Issues Page because there is a wealth of information on Migraine and disability.

I hope this helps,


Answered by Nancy Harris Bonk