caret icon Back to all discussions

Migraines and Short Term Disability

Hello everyone.

I'm new to the community but not to migraines. I have dealt with them off and on since my late teens but they became worse in my late twenties. Now in my thirties, they've become severe to the point of needing a medical leave.

My migraines have been more frequent in the past few months and my boss said I needed to get a handle on them. Not knowing what that meant and if my job was in jeopardy, I went into a panic. I have intermittent FMLA and I also got a short-term disability insurance policy through work in May 2013, just in case I ever needed it. Not for migraines, but anything as I've had it at a prior job and it was a life saver when I needed emergency surgery.

Three weeks ago, I was having my third migraine of the week and went to see the nurse practitioner at my doctor's office, demanding help. Thankfully, he took a look at my medications, realized that the doctor hadn't been doing me a service and said, "This has to stop, I'm changing your medications, but I am taking you off work for 3 1/2 weeks for the medications to start working and for the side-effects to subside." Three weeks later, a really bad side-effect/reaction to a med, and another med change later - I think we may have found the right combination of medications to keep the migraines at bay. I also have a referral to a neuro who specializes in vestibular migraines, which is what we're thinking I may have.

Long story short, I found out today that my STD (Short Term Disablity) insurance has a pre-existing condition clause, which will probably mean I'm out of luck on the past 2 1/2 weeks of wages (after the 7 day waiting period). Has anyone else dealt with this? While migraines have been pre-existing, the increase in frequency hadn't started until about May or June.

I'm just curious if anyone else has had this experience and what they did or what the outcome was. I accept that there may not be much I can do, because it truly is pre-existing and medical records going back about 15 years will show that. I'm not sure if disability insurance companies account for change in severity/frequency or that sort of thing.


  1. Hi Chelsea,

    UGH! As if dealing with migraine isn't tough enough, now you have to battle insurance too? That just isn't right.

    I personally don't have any experience with this but hopefully others will be in the lend theirs. I'll also check with Diana our legal expert and see what she says.

    One other point, as long as you are going to a specialist, make sure the doctor is actually board certified in headache medicine. Many doctors say they are 'headache specialists' because they treat a lot of migraine and headache patients. Treating us doesn't make it so. A TRUE migraine specialist is an EXPERT who is board certified in headache medicine from the United Council of Neurological Subspecialties or UCNS. We have information on what's so special about these doctor and how to find one in these links; and

    Hang in there,

    Please read our rules before posting.