Migraines can be debilitating, and they are not something that can be cured by taking a few aspirin and getting back to work. According to the World Health Organization, migraines are considered one of the most debilitating diseases a person can suffer from. There are an estimated 28 million workers in the United States who suffer from migraines, which impacts their ability to work. Because of their severity, migraines statistically take away 157 million workdays each year. Employees who suffer from migraines due to their job – or have migraine conditions aggravated by their job – may wonder if they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Determining Work-Related Injury or IllnessIn order for an illness to be covered by workers’ compensation, the employee must prove that it was caused by a work-related activity. Therefore, the employee must prove that their work environment or duties caused or aggravated their migraine condition – and it must be something they can medically prove. Because physicians and researchers do not know the exact cause of migraines, and there are no documented cures, this can be difficult. This is why it is best an employee hires a workers’ compensation attorney to assist them with their claim. An attorney can help prove that the work environment or duties of the job caused or aggravated a migraine condition.
Other Legal ProtectionsFiling for workers’ compensation for migraines is difficult, and the large majority of migraine cases are denied. However, employees still have other legal protections at their disposal, including:
- Family and Medical Leave Act - The FMLA or Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993. It allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid vacation) due to adoption, childbirth, a serious health condition, or a family member’s serious health condition. Migraines have FMLA protection. If your migraines are too debilitating to return to work, discuss FMLA leave with your employer.
- Americans with Disabilities Act - If your migraines do not entirely prevent you from working, you can request a special accommodation from your employer using the ADA to ensure your workplace does not aggravate your migraines further. While migraines are not specifically listed as a disability under the act, it does fall under the “mental or physical impairments that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”