How to Qualify for Disability Benefits for Chronic Headaches: Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
Because Social Security doesn’t list chronic headaches as its own separate medical impairment for the purposes of awarding disability benefits, you can’t successfully apply for benefits by describing your diagnosis and symptoms alone.
But you have two other paths:
- Use another health condition as your primary disorder, with headaches as a symptom.
- Show Social Security your limitations on working, through what it calls your “residual functional capacity,” or RFC.
Headaches can be part of the fallout of many conditions that are directly covered by Social Security Disability, including:
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
If you have any conditions such as these, you can follow Social Security’s guidelines for that condition as you seek disability benefits.
But if debilitating headaches are the primary reason you need disability benefits, you must show Social Security your “residual functional capacity,” which is a measure of how much exertion you can handle on the job considering your problems with headaches.
Your RFC will include assessments of your everyday abilities, such as lifting, walking, sitting, understanding instructions, coping with work stress and more. When you are approved for disability benefits because of your RFC, it’s called a “medical vocational allowance.”
If you’re not sure what direction you should take in claiming Social Security Disability benefits for headaches, you can talk about it with the experienced disability advocates at Hanley Disability—at no cost to you.