Law Office of James M. Hoffmann Articles Is It Possible to Get Workers Compensation for Migraines?

Is It Possible to Get Workers Compensation for Migraines?

By James Hoffmann  Aug. 30, 2019 2:10p

Only those who suffer from migraines truly know how debilitating this condition is. Far from being a simple headache, a migraine usually affects an individual’s capacity of working or functioning normally due to the photosensitivity, nausea, pain, and confusion it brings.

When an employed person goes through an incident that leads to injury or suffers from conditions that were triggered or worsened by the conditions in their workplace, they are entitled to file a workers compensation claim. One would think that migraines can easily be work-related, especially in stressful jobs, and that employers should be liable when this happens. However, it is actually unlikely to get workers compensation for migraines.

Why Aren’t Migraines Covered by Workers Comp?

One of the frustrating parts about suffering from migraines is that in general it is hard to pinpoint what exactly causes them. If you have them, there’s often not much you can do about it aside from resting in a dark, quiet place. While headaches can be mistaken for migraines by an inexperienced person, they are different.


Here is how you can tell if you are having a headache or a migraine:

  • Migraines usually affect one side of the head

  • Migraines can be preceded by an aura - a set of sensations that come 10 to 30 minutes before the migraine kicks in - tingling sensations in the face, altered senses, seeing flashing lines or lights

  • Normal headaches are usually felt in the forehead or scalp

  • Headaches are described as a dull, pressure-like pain, while migraines can feel like intense pulsing or stabbing pain


Why is this important for our topic? It’s simple: if you only have a headache, your employer is not under any obligation towards you (unless the headache is part of a series of symptoms caused by your work or workplace conditions). However, if you suffer from a migraine, you can request medical leave from your employer.

Requesting Medical Leave for Your Migraine

The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) generally covers migraines, as they can be so debilitating that you are unable to attend work or to fully function. If you experience recurring migraines, be sure to check with your practitioner every time you go through an episode and keep them posted about the intensity level you experience.


Your doctor will be able to differentiate between normal headaches and migraines and offer you the proper documentation to back up your FMLA request. If, despite this, your employer does not give the medical leave that you need, please contact an attorney who can defend your case.


Migraines are inflicting serious pain on their victims, and are often underestimated by people who have not experienced them. Getting your employer to understand, through medical records and working laws, that your migraines keep you from coming to work will be the first step in raising awareness about this symptom.

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