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Researched and written by Helen Cross
‘Epilepsy’ is a neurological condition that causes fits and seizures.
The causes and symptoms of epilepsy are varied and affect individuals differently. (1)
For some it may be a one off occurrence while others may have repeated attacks from childhood.
Epilepsy is a serious life-affecting condition and can make it harder to lead a normal life. (2)
That's why, individuals with epilepsy may be eligible for support to make things easier
Some epileptics are able to drive, while others may be legally prevented from driving.
It all depends on the type, timings, and severity of the seizures. (3)
If you have any epileptic attacks, seizures, fits or blackouts
you must inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency)
Failure to do so will result in a £1,000 fine.
Stopping someone from driving is not taken lightly.
This is to prevent loss of control while at the wheel which could potentially hurt themselves or others.
Those who are unable to drive may be able to obtain free bus passes and a Disabled Persons’ Railcard.
The Disabled Person’s Bus Pass operates differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For example in England it only covers off peak travel while in Scotland and Wales you can travel anytime.
To apply for a bus pass you need to contact your local council. They will be able to tell you more about your local conditions.
Epileptics who have an exemption certificate for epilepsy medication and/or a letter from the DVLA stating the illegality of their driving may be entitled to a Disabled Person’s Railcard.(4)
This costs money initially, but will ultimately save an awful lot on train travel. Usually depending on how far you travel two or three journeys will pay back the cost of the card.
Londoners who are unable to drive because of their disability are also able to apply for a ‘Freedom Pass’ that allows free travel throughout the London public transport network.
‘Access to Work’ is a Government initiative that provides advice and support to the disabled who are employed, self employed or unemployed and about to start a job or work scheme.
It is able to fund reasonable adjustments to equipment, provide extra support at work or help with the cost of travel if you are unable to drive.
Extra equipment to help with your job may include a dictaphone or specialist computer software like Dragon Dictate.
The grants are also available to help you if you need to do a lot of travelling in the course of your job.
If you take epilepsy medications, you are entitled to receive your prescriptions for free. (6)
To get these free prescriptions, you will need to fill in NHS form FP92A – which you can get from your GP or surgery. You fill in parts 1 and 2, and your doctor will do the rest.
An exemption certificate will be sent, which usually lasts five years before needing to be renewed.
You have to pay for prescriptions until you get the certificate, but once you have the certificate you can get this money refunded to you.
Ask for receipt form FP57 when you pay each prescription.
These forms will tell you how you can get the money back once you have your exemption certificate.
‘Personal Independence Payments (PIP) is replacing the Disability Living Allowance and is the main benefit for anyone living with a disability. (7)
PIPs help to cover the additional costs of living with a life-affecting disability.
Qualifying for PIP depends (as always) upon the nature of your epilepsy and the way or ways in which it affects your life.
If you apply for PIP, you’ll have to go through an assessment. This is to discover whether your ability to complete certain tasks is significantly impeded by your condition.
These tasks include:
You’ll be assessed on a ‘points’-based system, and allotted money (if any) if you attain enough points.
PIPs payments are tax free and are paid whether or not you are in work.
As epilepsy is a changing condition with variable levels of ability at different times. It may be hard to persuade PIP assessors of the true severity of the condition.
To help you complete the forms keep a seizure diary and make notes on how epilepsy affects your everyday life.
This may include the frequency of seizures, how long it takes you to recover and whether you have to go to hospital or need another person to support you.
It is worth applying as PIP can also be the gateway to other benefits and grants.
Such as Tax Credits, Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Employment Support Allowance.
Listed below are organisations that can provide Epilepsy advice and resources
Epilepsy Action - Free helpline 0808 800 5050
Epilepsy Society - Helpline 01494 601 400
Epilepsy Scotland - provide support and holiday caravan. Free helpline 0808 800 2200
Young Epilepsy - for children and young people. Helpline 01342 831342
Grants for Neurological Conditions - Disability Grants
1. “Types of Seizures” .John Hopkins Medicine,
2. “Epilepsy” PsychGuides.com,
5. “Help with health costs” NHS Choice
6. “Personal Independence Payment (PIP)” Gov.uk