Light Sensitivity and VA Migraine Claims: Understanding Eligibility, Filing Requirements, and Rating Criteria

As a veteran with migraines with accompanied light sensitivity (photophobia), you can potentially receive a higher disability rating. However, before you make your claim, it’s important to have a decent understanding of the process.

Photophobia is a condition where your eyes hurt in contact with bright eyes. This condition can accompany migraines.

Migraines are throbbing headaches affecting one side of your head.

According to American Migraine Foundation, photophobia is a common symptom of migraines. So, if you have been feeling sensitive to lights after experiencing migraine attacks, you are likely suffering from photophobia due to migraine.

Want to learn how you can get VA disability benefits for migraines with light sensitivity? This article will review key points you need to know to make a proper claim for both of these disorders.


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Light Sensitivity and Migraines

Light sensitivity or photophobia is when you experience discomfort or even pain in bright light or regular lighting.

Photophobia is one of the most common symptoms of migraines. Sometimes people with migraines need to take rest in a dark and quiet room until their headache stops. This hypersensitivity to light during a migraine attack happens because your brain sends signals to the thalamus, making you feel pain.

Symptoms of Migraines with Light Sensitivity

  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pulsating and throbbing headache
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Triggers for Light Sensitivity and Migraines

  • Bright or flickering lights
  • Hormonal changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Glare
  • Certain foods or drinks
  • Strobe lights
  • Certain medications
  • Anxiety and stress

Filing a VA Migraine Claim for Light Sensitivity

Light sensitivity alone isn’t always considered for VA disability benefits as it is a condition that appears as a symptom of other disorders. Therefore, you will have to provide medical evidence that states that your photophobia is a result of your migraine attacks while also making a Nexus connection of your migraine with your time in service. Basically, you are submitting a claim of photophobia secondary to migraines.

In order to make sure your claim is successful, provide correct medical evidence as well as other records such as your personal journal tracking symptoms and statements from friends, family, and military buddies. Contact VA Disability Coach to ensure your claim does not get denied!

Medical Evidence for VA Migraine Claims with Light Sensitivity

Along with a diagnosis, medical tests can go a long way in proving the severity of your condition. For example, diagnostic tests like CT scans, MRIs, and EEGs can help your claim.

It is crucial to have several evidence papers for migraines and light sensitivity since these conditions often receive a lower rating than what people expect.

Rating Criteria for VA Migraine Claims with Light Sensitivity

The VA usually rates photophobia under eye conditions like conjunctivitis or cataracts according to 38 CFR § 4.79. However, light sensitivity caused by migraines receives the regular migraine ratings as per Diagnostic Code 8100.

VA Rating for Migraine with Light Sensitivity

VA assigns up to a 50% rating for migraines, unlike their regular 100% maximum range. Therefore, you can get the following ratings for migraines with light sensitivity or photophobia:

  • 0% – Attacks are not frequent
  • 10% – Prostrating and frequent attacks that happen at least once every two months
  • 20% – Prostrating and frequent attacks that happen at least once every month
  • 30% – Prostrating, frequent and prolonged attacks that lead to economic inadaptability

Secondary Service Connection for VA Migraine Claims with Light Sensitivity

A secondary service connection is when you have a disability that resulted from a service-connected condition. For example, in this case, your light sensitivity caused by migraines will have a secondary service connection as opposed to a direct service connection.

To prove that your light sensitivity should have a secondary service connection to migraines, you need to provide evidence that this light sensitivity has been caused or worsened by your migraine attacks. Not to mention that your migraines should already be service connected at the first place.

Reconsideration and Appeals for VA Migraine Claims with Light Sensitivity

If your migraine claim with light sensitivity has been denied, there could be several reasons, such as –

  • Lack of medical evidence
  • Evidence with contradicting statements
  • Not attending VA’s exam
  • Providing an application with incorrect information

Even if your migraine and light sensitivity claim is denied, you can appeal the VA’s decision with a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). This can be a lengthy and arduous process, and VA Disability Coach is there to help you with every step!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the connection between light sensitivity and migraines?

Light sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms of migraines, along with sensitivity to sound, nausea, and other conditions. When suffering from a migraine attack, people can become hypersensitive to light, leading to painful sensations in the eyes.

Can veterans file a VA Migraine Claim for light sensitivity?

While you can make a claim for any type of health condition, light sensitivity is a symptom and would best be reported during an evaluation for the condition you feel is contributing to the sensitivity.

What evidence is required for a VA Migraine Claim with light sensitivity?

For a VA migraine claim with light sensitivity, a veteran should provide these documents:
●     Diagnosis of migraine and light sensitivity
●     A Nexus connection of migraine
●     A secondary link through medical evidence for light sensitivity
●     Relevant test results

How does the VA determine the rating for VA Migraine Claims with light sensitivity?

The VA does not have a rating system for light sensitivity by itself. However, it rates the condition based on migraine rating when the light sensitivity is secondary to migraines.

Can veterans receive retroactive VA disability compensation for migraines with light sensitivity?

Yes, they can! As long as they can prove service connection for migraines that meet the rating criteria of VA.

Can veterans receive VA disability compensation for both migraines and light sensitivity?

Yes! Proving the connection between these conditions and showing how these disorders adversely affect your life will allow you to receive VA disability compensation for migraines and light sensitivity.

What options do veterans have if their VA Migraine Claim with light sensitivity is denied?

The veteran can appeal the decision with a Notice of Disagreement and can get legal help to change VA’s decision.

Are there resources and programs available to assist veterans with migraines and light sensitivity?

VA Disability Coach can help you with your migraine claim with light sensitivity and ensure your claim does not get denied.


It’s important to remember not to give up if your claim gets denied or you receive a disappointing rating from the VA. With some effort, you can increase your compensation pay and get the benefits you deserve!