National Migraine Centre
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Would I Qualify For Benefits?

Good day folks!

Sometimes I go through the most horrible of times. It's completely unpredictable, but utterly devastating when it happens. No warnings, nothing. I wake up and it's there and nothing will shift it. Cue days of agony, distress, no appetite, no sleep and being bedridden in a dark room. Then, there's the next part, the dizziness and disorientation for up to 72 hours after the pain has subsided. These together mean I can be housebound for the best part of a week. An incredibly frustrating time where I become dependent on family members to provide for me like a carer would do for a client. Bringing me food even though I've no real motivation to eat. Bringing me drinks to keep hydrated. Making sure I administer my daily medication (I have type 1 diabetes which requires insulin therapy and long term depression for which I'm taking prescribed medication). Obviously, if I miss either of these treatments terrible things could occur...

Yes, I'm talking about migraine headaches (and possibly cluster headaches too). Through medical records I can trace these headaches back to when I was 12 years old. I am now 45 (46 in May). They are hell on Earth.

I can go to bed feeling perfectly well, have a good nights sleep, then wake up in the morning in complete agony. No painkiller will shift them (and I've tried many). Some, in fact, have made the pain worse. I genuinely feel that I cannot cope. Completely out of family and public life. I've put up with this suffering silently for decades. But it got to the point where my partner and daughter had simply had enough. They didn't wish to see me like this any more as it was, quite understandably, very upsetting for them. So to the doctors I went (under duress and escorted by my daughter). I was prescribed Propranolol MR 80mg capsules of which I take one daily. Also, I've been booked to see a neurologist in April. Something to look forward to...

As well as the migraine attacks, I also suffer from depression. This was diagnosed in 1998 after I discovered the abuse of my daughter at the hands of her stepfather. She was but 3 years old at the time. After always being of good mental health I spiraled downward rapidly. 18 years on and I'm still on prescribed medication (100mg of Sertraline per day). I am very dependent on these tablets. I once tried stopping for a while and very nearly drove my family away. I became very nasty, aggressive, destructive and unpredictable. Once again I was escorted to the doctors by my daughter....

Even with the Sertraline (which I do take religiously before bed every evening) I regularly find myself completely intolerant of other people, mainly strangers. I find them irritating, even annoying. Shopping is possibly the worst time for this. Everything starts off just fine. Calm, quiet, happy enough. After a short while I'm completely irate. Angry. Furious! Just long in to be away from these irritants (no disrespect to any person here. It's not their fault). Even at home I require time alone. I find myself sitting separately to other family members, often in a separate room with music playing on headphones. Quiet music which I find relaxing (Waiting For Cousteau by Jeanne Michel-Jarre in a work of art and is my favourite at these times).

Diabetes. I was diagnosed with type 1 in 2001 at the age of 31. Apparently not many people are diagnosed type 1 at that age. I manage the condition with Novo Rapid insulin with meals accompanied with a once a day injection of Levemir as a background insulin. My blood sugar levels can go haywire whilst I'm suffering a migraine attack. I'm not eating and drinking correctly. The pain and the stress. This leads to the glucose level yoyo (up and down...) It's just a horrible, unbearable time for my family and I and, as I stated previously, I have no idea when the migraines will strike or how long I will be incapacitated for. It's a complete nightmare. Not just with the migraines, but with the other health factors thrown into the mix to create merry hell.

Anyway, I was wondering if, with all these lovely things going on at unpredictable intervals, whether or not I would be able to claim DLA or any other appropriate benefit. I am not clued up on such things, so I've laid myself bare here in the hope of some help and advice with this matter.

I've gone on a bit I know. But if your still awake any advice would be greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Thank you.


4 Replies

Hey Astradyne ... gosh how on earth do you cope!! You should seek advice from a benefits advice centre / local citizens advice bureau i think you would get a PIP payment ( personal independence payment) as you sound like you don't cope well when your in the middle of an attack and you have other issues with depression which again takes your independence. I'm not an expert but i am awre of some benefits. Sorry not much help.....hope you get the answers you seek 😀 good luck!!

1 like

Hi Andy

I'm sorry to hear about your pain and distress. I have also suffered from severe migraines as you describe, and depression also, so I understand what you are going through.

My first answer to your question 'Would I qualify for benefits?' is, yes you may well qualify for benefits, but you need to consult your local CAB, or other advice agency, for advice and help to fill in the forms. They are very experienced in wording your health problems in the way that the DWP decision makers understand, and this increases your chance of being successful. There are several benefits you could potentially claim:

1) The first is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is based on whether the DWP decide you are 'fit for work' or not. That means you needs your GP to sign you off sick, and keep supplying you with sick notes which you have to send in to DWP for several months during the long application process which includes completing a form about your health issues, and attending a medical. Eventually, if you are put in the 'Support group' when you are deemed not fit for any type of work, then you no longer need to send in sick notes. Alternatively, you may be found fit for 'work related activity', such as attending work-focussed interviews and training courses, or you may be found completely 'fit for work'. If that is the outcome, you would need to appeal the decision, as you are clearly not 'fit for work' on a full time basis.

However, ESA is means-tested and whether or not you qualify for ESA also depends on your household income. If neither your or your partner are working, then you would probably qualify. If you currently work over 16 hrs/wk (which sounds unlikely given your migraines), you would not be eligible for income-related ESA, but if you used to work within the last 2 years, you might qualify for contribution-based ESA based on your National Insurance record. Otherwise, if your partner works, then any ESA would also depend on her income. It's complicated! Definitely get some advice from CAB, as eligibility for ESA is specific to your household circumstances as well as your health. In some areas of the country you will have to claim Universal Credit instead of ESA, but the claim process is very similar.

2) The other benefit you may be eligible for is Personal Independence Payment, which has replaced DLA for new claimants. This is also assessed by a form and a medical, but it is not connected to whether you are fit for work or not, and it does not depend on other household income as it is not means-tested, so it is more straight forward to claim than ESA.

PIP consists of Daily Living and Mobility elements, and it is likely that you would qualify for the Daily Living element only. If you are working and claiming Working Tax Credit, it will increase the WTC you receive. Again, you need to get advice and help in completing the form from an experienced benefits adviser , however good you are with words, as this will increase your chance of getting the award.

Always keep a copy of your application forms, and if you are not awarded either ESA or PIP, you can appeal the decision within one month of the decision letter, but always get advice to do this, as again this will increase your chances of being successful.

You start your ESA and PIP claims by phoning the relevant claims numbers (look at CAB AdviceGuide website or the .gov website), and any award you eventually get is backdated to the date of your phonecall. Warning - it can take months to get through the medical process for both benefits, but as ESA is a work based benefit, if you are eligible and have a valid sick note, DWP will pay the 'Assessment rate' from 3 days after the start of your claim, and any additional premium for the 'Support group' or 'Work related activity group' is added after your medical..

3) Other benefits you may be able to claim if you are not working or only working part time, or have high rent costs are Housing Benefit (or Universal Credit for Housing Costs) and your local scheme for Council Tax Reduction. Again...get advice, as these benefits are also means-tested.

Further details from and

I hope I haven't put you off claiming benefits altogether. If you are sick or have a long term disabling health condition, the system is intended to support you, but navigating it can be tricky. If you have a partner in a well paid job, and you can afford to live without needing to claim, then you are very fortunate! Most people with long term health conditions need to claim something from the system at some point in their lives. That is why we pay National Insurance, so don't be put off if you really need to claim.

All the best



Thank you for your reply Daisyrose.

My partner does work, but does not earn a significant amount of money (she is a night carer in an elderly persons care home).

I will definitely look into the things you have suggested and follow the recommendations you've made.

Again, thank you for taking the time to reply.

1 like

Phone your local welfare rights. They will tell you all you need to know and for once you'll be speaking to people who are on your side. They will tell you what and how to claim.


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