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Sufferers of migraine headaches, like many people with “invisible” conditions, frequently have their symptoms misunderstood and minimized. However, if you’re one of the 2 million people in the United States who live with migraines, you know exactly how debilitating and frustrating they can be. Many people who suffer from chronic migraines can’t work consistently, which may eventually force them to apply for long-term disability (LTD) benefits.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of how migraine-related long-term disability claims work. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Migraine?

Migraines are recurrent headaches that often cause severe, debilitating symptoms. A migraine can involve up to four different stages.

  • Prodrome

Sometimes called the “preheadache” phase, the prodrome stage warns you that a migraine is developing. You may notice increased irritability, uncontrolled yawning, food cravings, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms during prodrome.

While not everyone experiences prodrome consistently, preventative measures during prodrome, like avoiding known triggers and taking medications, can reduce the severity of a migraine. The prodrome phase can last for a few hours to a few days.

  • Aura

Immediately before a migraine, many people experience dramatic symptoms, including visual disturbances. You may see dots, zigzags, and bright lights. You may also experience blurred vision during the aura phase of a migraine.

However, the aura phase can also involve more than just vision problems. You may also experience muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling. Aura symptoms can continue into the active headache phase.

For many migraine sufferers, the aura phase is a frightening and disabling experience. People sometimes confuse aura symptoms with a stroke.

  • Headache

The headache phase of a migraine may last for anywhere from a few hours to several days. Common symptoms include a sharp or throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, neck pain, nasal congestion, and dizziness.

  • Postdrome

Most people feel exhausted and sore during the postdrome phase, which is also called the post-headache or recovery phase. You may also have problems concentrating and processing information for a day or two.

Not all migraines are the same. Only an estimated 25% of migraine sufferers experience an aura, for example. Others deal with silent or acephalgic migraines where they experience all the symptoms of a migraine other than pain. And sufferers with chronic migraines experience headaches and other symptoms for at least 15 days out of every month.

Can I Get LTD Benefits for Migraine Headaches?

To win a long-term disability claim, you must prove that you will be unable to work full-time for an extended period. While some LTD plans define disability as an inability to perform your regular job, most use a broader definition of an inability to perform any occupation. If your long-term disability plan uses the “any occupation” standard, you will have to show that your migraines and other conditions completely prevent you from working full-time at any job, not just the one you’re used to.

It is possible to get long-term disability benefits for migraine headaches, especially chronic migraines. However, because there isn’t always an identifiable cause for migraines, like TMJ dysfunction or a tumor, you may face challenges during your claim. Insurance adjusters are skeptical of medical conditions that are not easily explained; while a herniated disc on an MRI may explain someone’s neck pain, there probably isn’t a diagnostic study or test that can pinpoint the exact cause of your migraines. So, you’ll need to work with an attorney to build a comprehensive and detailed record that supports your claim.

RELATED ARTICLE: Learn How a Disability Journal Can Help Your Disability Claim

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How Do I Prove the Severity of My Migraines?

Consistency is key to a migraine-related disability claim. While it’s tempting to self-treat your migraines and try to ignore how severe your symptoms are, you’ll be much better off if you speak honestly with your doctors and take an active role in your treatment plan.

  • Get Medical Care for Your Migraines

At the peak of a migraine, you probably want to curl up in a dark, quiet room and rest. You may have experience self-treating your symptoms, and when you’ve had many migraines before, it may seem like a lot of unnecessary hassle to go to the doctor for treatment.

However, if you haven’t been to the doctor about your migraines yet, or if you’re having a very severe migraine or exhibiting new symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Your medical team may be able to alleviate your symptoms with medications and other treatments, and they will document the migraine in their records. These medical records will become valuable evidence in an LTD claim.

You should also build relationships with specialists who treat headaches and chronic pain. These doctors could have insight into your condition and may be able to suggest innovative ways to control your symptoms. Visiting a specialist can also help strengthen your LTD claim since insurance adjusters tend to value opinions from a specialist more than those from a general physician.

  • Create a Migraine Journal or Diary

A migraine journal offers many benefits. For example, identifying your triggers can help you better control your migraines. However, a journal can also improve your long-term disability claim.

It’s easy to ignore everyday migraine symptoms. When you create a diary, you may discover that your migraines are more frequent or disabling than you thought. For example, you may realize that it takes you days to fully recover from a migraine. You and your doctors can use this information to refine your treatment plan and adjust your work restrictions.

Your migraine diary can also help you complete your LTD application. During the application and claim process, insurance company representatives may ask you for details about your daily activities and the frequency of your migraine symptoms. Your diary can help you provide accurate answers that are backed by documentation.

  • Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations

Many factors can contribute to a migraine, including stress, hormones, changes in the weather, caffeine, tobacco, and diet. If your doctor has suggested that you change your lifestyle, you should take this advice seriously.

This is doubly true when it comes to medication. If your doctor is recommending a specific medication protocol, you should follow it to the best of your abilities. Do not under or over-use your medications.

Insurance adjusters are constantly looking for reasons to question your credibility and deny your LTD claim. When you refuse to follow your doctors’ orders, the insurance company will almost certainly use it against you.

  • Consult an Experienced Disability Insurance Lawyer

At Bryant Legal Group, we know from experience how migraine symptoms, especially fatigue, nausea, and visual disturbances, can complicate the disability insurance claim process. It’s easy to make mistakes and miss deadlines when you’re battling a migraine.

If you’re unable to work due to severe migraines, you don’t have to navigate your long-term disability claim alone. A disability insurance lawyer can provide guidance and ensure you don’t make errors that lead to a denial of benefits.

Also, stress is one of the top contributors to a migraine. When you work with one of our LTD lawyers, you get peace of mind, which might even help reduce the frequency of your headaches or ease symptoms.

RELATED ARTICLE: Chronic Pain and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide

Bryant Legal Group: We Understand Migraine Disability Claims

Our team of disability insurance lawyers at Bryant Legal Group has earned an outstanding reputation based on our attention to detail, practical strategies, and real-world results. Bryant Legal Group assists disability insurance claimants in Chicago and beyond with complex LTD claims to give them peace of mind and help them get the benefits they’re entitled to.

To schedule your free consultation, contact us at 312-561-3010 or complete our online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

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disability insurance lawyer

Severe neck pain is one of the most debilitating and frustrating conditions a person can experience. It’s not uncommon for neck pain sufferers to struggle to keep up with the physical and mental demands of their jobs, which may force them to file for long-term disability (LDA) benefits.

However, before you file for disability insurance benefits, it’s always a good idea to go over your medical conditions and abilities as well as other factors that might affect your claim — preferably with help from an experienced disability lawyer. In this article, we’ll bring up a series of questions that can help you make the right choices.

Most of Us Experience Neck Pain During Our Lifetimes

Many people experience neck pain at one time or another. Neck pain can have many causes, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease: Wear and tear in your spine can create bone spurs and damage cartilage.
  • Herniated discs: A ruptured disc can press on your spine’s nerves, causing pain in your neck and limbs.
  • Inflammatory arthritis: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can lead to swelling, stiffness, and pain in your neck.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: Dysfunction in your temporomandibular joint, which is a joint in your jaw, can cause severe neck and head pain.
  • Cancer: Head and neck tumors sometimes cause neck pain.
  • Soft tissue trauma: Injuries such as whiplash and muscle strains can lead to neck pain.

Studies suggest that 60–70% of all adults will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. And at any given time, between 10–20% of the adult population is dealing with some type of neck pain.

While some people can manage their pain and maintain an active lifestyle, others aren’t so lucky. So, if you’re suffering from neck pain that prevents you from working, know that you’re not alone. Neck pain and back pain are two of the most common conditions that cause people to file for both short-term and long-term disability (LTD) benefits.

Before You Apply for Neck-Related LTD, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

If you’re like most of our clients, you’ve agonized over the decision to file for disability insurance benefits. It’s hard to accept that you can no longer do the things you love. However, a successful disability claim can give you space and time to focus on your health and recovery.

Before you apply for disability insurance benefits, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers may help you refine and improve your neck-related LTD claim.

  • Can Doctors Explain My Neck Pain?

Most people’s neck pain has multiple contributing factors. Mental health issues, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and orthopedic problems can cause or worsen neck pain.

While you don’t need to identify all the causes of your neck pain beyond any doubt, you may face issues in an LTD claim if your doctors can’t point to what is causing your neck pain. Insurance companies are often skeptical of disability claims where diagnostic tests and doctor’s reports don’t match up with the reported symptoms.

To avoid this potential issue, it’s in your best interest to seek treatment with your doctor and visit additional specialists if needed. Diagnostic studies such as MRIs, CT scans, and EMGs can help clarify your diagnosis and explain your symptoms.

  • How Does My Neck Pain Limit My Ability to Work?

As part of your application for disability benefits, you’ll need to articulate why you can no longer work. While “neck pain” is an acceptable answer on your LTD application, your claim will become stronger if you can explain how your neck pain impacts your ability to work.

For example, it will help if your claim can speak to specifics such as:

    • Do you need to take breaks to alleviate your pain? If so, how frequently?
    • Does your pain radiate into your shoulders, arms, or hands?
    • Have you noticed that your arms and hands feel weak or tire easily?
    • Does your pain increase if you hold your head in certain positions or make specific movements?
    • Are you experiencing anxiety and depression due to your chronic pain?
    • Does your pain get worse throughout the day?
  • What Is My Prognosis?

Your prognosis and recovery time can vary dramatically depending on your specific diagnosis, the severity of your neck problem, and other factors. For example, some people only need four to six months to recover from an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), which is a surgery that removes a damaged disc and stabilizes the spine with hardware. However, if your bones don’t fully heal and mesh with the hardware, your recovery time could be much longer.

Long-term disability plans typically have strict waiting periods and requirements regarding how long your condition is expected to last. If your neck pain or degenerative disc disease will only disable you for a brief time, you may not be eligible for LTD benefits.

Before you apply for disability insurance benefits, you should obtain a copy of your insurance plan’s summary plan description (SPD) and carefully review its terms and conditions. That way, you’ll understand the exact requirements of your LTD policy so you can address them in your application for benefits.

  • Do I Experience Negative Side Effects From My Medications?

In addition to your physical and emotional limitations, the long-term disability insurer must also consider unwanted side effects from your treatment. This includes adverse side effects from your medications as well as complications from surgery and other procedures. However, you will need medical records that support these aspects of your claim.

If you’re struggling with significant fatigue, dizzy spells, or other disabling side effects due to your pain medications, talk to your doctor about these issues.

RELATED ARTICLE: Degenerative Disc Disease and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide

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Bryant Legal Group: Chicago Healthcare and Disability Attorneys

Bryant Legal Group has decades of experience handling LTD claims for neck pain. We apply sophisticated strategies and perform careful investigations for our clients, and we’ve earned a reputation as one of Chicago’s foremost disability insurance firms.

To schedule your free consultation with an attorney from our team, call us at 312-561-3010 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

Request Your Free Consultation

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.