Young female veteran holding her head in pain due to a headache

Veterans Experiencing Headaches After a Service-Related Injury

Legally reviewed by

A number of common service-connected disabilities can cause veterans to suffer from headaches, which may warrant VA disability benefits depending on their frequency and severity.


  • Headaches following service-related injuries can have a significant impact on veterans, but VA disability benefits can offset some of the costs they experience.
  • Veterans who develop chronic headaches after a service-related injury may have a reduced quality of life and struggle to remain employed.
  • Various service-related injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injuries, tinnitus, and mental health conditions, can lead to recurrent headaches.
  • Proving to the VA that your headaches qualify for disability benefits involves documenting their severity and frequency, as well as showing a medical nexus to your primary service-connected disability.

While having headaches after a service-related injury may seem like a trivial symptom relative to what you have endured, they can become disruptive and even disabling. Veterans who experience headaches or migraines that are secondary to a service-connected disability may be able to increase their VA disability rating and access additional benefits.

If you need help with a veteran migraines claim denial, reach out to our expert VA-accredited legal team here at VetLaw. We make it a priority to ensure our clients receive the attention they deserve throughout the VA claim process as well as the disability benefits they need.

Give us a call at (855) 651-1522 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Headache Symptoms Can Pose an Ongoing Health Challenge to Veterans

The word “headache” is a catch-all term for a pain located in the head. Chronic headaches can impact your job performance and make it difficult to enjoy time with family and friends.

They may even compromise your capacity to take care of yourself. Veterans who suffer from headaches may experience a rapid or gradual onset of symptoms, with varying intensity. 

Examples of headache symptoms may include:

  • Pain, which can be sharp, dull, throbbing, or steady
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Aversion to bright light and loud noises

At best, a headache can be a nuisance, and at worst, it may prove debilitating. For example, a veteran with a service-related mental health condition may have migraines so severe that they have to lie down in a dark room until their symptoms dissipate. This interferes with their ability to drive, work, or even function.

Headaches can be caused by a number of things, such as an acute injury from striking your forehead on the steering wheel in a car accident. They may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

If the root cause of your headaches is a service-related injury, they may qualify as a Secondary Condition, which could mean you are entitled to VA disability benefits. 

Service-Related Injuries Linked to Headaches and Migraines

There are many factors that can trigger a headache, such as being under immense stress. However, they may also be a side effect of a disability you incurred as a result of your military service. Headaches are a common symptom of the following service-related conditions: 

Mental conditions can also have physical complications, which is to say that veterans may experience headaches or migraines that are psychosomatic in origin. For example, headaches are associated with the following service-connected mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders caused or worsened by stress and traumatic experiences in the military
  • Depression linked to dealing with a severe injury or chronic illness, adjusting to civilian life, or experiencing trauma while serving in the armed forces
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder based on psychologically disturbing experiences in the military, such as sustaining a catastrophic injury or witnessing a violent event

Establishing Eligibility for VA Disability Benefits for Headaches

While rare or mild headaches may not qualify for VA disability benefits based on the schedular rating for this condition, frequent or severe headaches after a service-related injury may meet the criteria for compensation. 

The VA maintains a rating schedule for migraines, one of the most common types of headaches veterans experience after a service-related injury. Migraines are also one of the most severe forms of headaches. The VA bases a migraine disability rating on three main factors:

  • The intensity of the migraine, which is generally measured by whether you had to lay down with the lights off in order to cope with the migraine symptoms; this is referred to as the necessity of prostration
  • The length of your migraine attacks, or how long your migraine symptoms last and how much recovery time you need  
  • The financial effect of your migraines, which the VA determines by looking at how often you have had to miss work and stay home due to debilitating migraine symptoms

Remember, if you are asserting that your headaches are a Secondary Condition, you will need evidence of a medical nexus between that diagnosis and your service-related condition, such as a TBI.

Take Advantage of VetLaw’s Experience Handling Veterans Headache Disability Claims

With more than a decade of experience representing veterans to our credit, our VetLaw team is proud to say that we are a leading provider of expert legal advice to veterans seeking disability benefits after the VA has denied their veteran headache claims

We are competent, diligent, and compassionate advocates for vets with service-connected disabilities, including those suffering from headaches after a service-related injury.

Call us at (855) 651-1522 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation. Our veterans disability claims attorneys are happy to discuss the steps of the VA appeals process and how our services can benefit your claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest VA disability rating I can receive for migraines or headaches after a service-related injury?

The maximum VA disability rating for migraines is 50%. Although veterans are capped at a 50% disability rating for headaches, adding a Secondary Condition to your claim can put you over the threshold for additional VA disability benefits, like Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability.

How can I prove that my headaches are severe enough to meet the qualifications for VA disability benefits?

There are several sources of evidence you can submit to the VA regarding the intensity of your headaches, such as:

  • A medical statement from a healthcare provider 
  • Statements from family or friends who have witnessed your migraines or headaches
  • A personal log or journal of your symptoms, how long they lasted, and how often they happened

What are the different types of headaches?

Medical professionals characterize headaches by the level of pain they inflict, how fast they come on, where the pain is located, and the specific symptoms they cause, among other factors. The main types of headaches are: