We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Possible benefits for people with epilepsy in England

This information for people in England. See also Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you’re outside the UK, your local epilepsy group may be able to help.

In this section

Free prescriptions

If you have epilepsy and take epilepsy medicines, you are entitled to free prescriptions. This is for all your prescription medicines, not just your epilepsy medicines.

How to get free prescriptions
To claim free prescriptions, ask your GP or hospital doctor for application form FP92A.This is the application form for a medical exemption certificate. You need to fill in parts 1 and 2. Your hospital doctor, GP or a member of staff at your GP surgery, will sign to confirm that the information you have given is correct. They will then send for an exemption certificate for you. These usually last for five years. It is your responsibility to renew it.

Reclaiming prescription costs
Until you have your exemption certificate, you will have to pay for your prescriptions. You will be able to claim the money back, once you have your exemption certificate. To do this, ask the pharmacist for a receipt form FP57 when you pay for the prescription. There is information on FP57 that tells you how to claim the money back.

For more information about prescription charges contact NHS Choices
Tel: 0300 330 1341
Website: nhs.uk

The Disabled Persons Railcard

If you have epilepsy, you are eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard if you either:

  • Still have seizures even though you take epilepsy medicine or
  • You are not allowed to drive because of your epilepsy

To prove this you will either need to provide a copy of your Exemption Certificate for epilepsy medicine, and a photocopy of your prescription for your epilepsy medicine or a letter from the DVLA stating you are unable to drive. You will probably not be entitled to a Disabled Person’s Railcard if you don’t take epilepsy medicine.

You will need to pay for a Disabled Persons Railcard, but it will save you money if you regularly travel by train.

Adults get a discount of up to a third on a range of rail tickets. One adult travelling with you will get the same discount as you.

Children aged from five to 15 years will pay the normal child’s train fare. However, if a child has a Disabled Persons Railcard, one adult who is travelling with them can claim a discount of one third off their own adult’s fare.

You can get an application form for a Disabled Persons Railcard from any of the following places:

  • Some railway stations
  • The Disabled Persons Railcard website: disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk
  • Rail Travel Made Easy, tel: 0845 605 0525
  • Epilepsy Action

Free bus travel

If you would be refused a driving licence because of your epilepsy, you are entitled to a free bus pass. You are not eligible to hold a free bus pass just because you have epilepsy.
The rules state that the condition must have lasted 12 months or be likely to last 12 months or to happen again. So you are unlikely to qualify if you have had an isolated seizure, or are waiting for a diagnosis.

There is no age limit for this bus pass. It applies to adults and disabled children.

Epilepsy Action has more information about epilepsy and driving

A free bus pass can be used for free travel in England between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and Bank Holidays. In some areas, you may also be able to travel free at other times. You may also get reduced local rail fares.

For more information about how to get your free bus pass, contact your local council or your local passenger transport authority.

You can find details of these in your local Phone Book, or by contacting Epilepsy Action, freephone 0808 800 5050.

Alternatively, a list of local councils in England is on the government website:  gov.uk/find-your-local-council

Bus passes in London - the Freedom pass

If you are eligible for a free bus pass and you live in Greater London, you can apply for a Freedom Pass. This gives you free travel on the entire Transport for London network. On most services, you can use the pass at any time. On other services, you may only use it at certain times.

Contact Freedom Pass for more information about using the pass and how to apply:
Tel: 0845 275 7054
Website: freedompass.org 

Access to Work

Some people who can’t drive because they have epilepsy, may be entitled to help with the additional costs of travel to and from work, and also travelling while at work. This comes under the Access to Work scheme.

You apply by ringing 0345 268 8489.
Website: gov.uk/access-to-work/overview

Access to Work information for employers: gov.uk

Organisations that offer benefits advice

Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice gives free, confidential, impartial and independent advice about your rights, including benefits. They can also help you fill out claim forms for benefits.
Tel: 03444 111 444 (for advice by telephone)
Website: adviceguide.org.uk/england

Turn2Us
For information and advice on benefits and grants
Tel: 0808 802 2000
Website: turn2us.org.uk

Contact a Family
Offers benefits advice for people with a disabled child
 Tel: 0808 808 3555
Website: cafamily.org.uk
 
DIAL UK
Disability Information and Advice Line services, run by and for disabled people. They may be able to refer you to someone who can help you fill out claim forms for benefits (provided there is someone in your area).
Freephone: 0808 800 3333 (to find your local group)
Website: scope.org.uk/dial

GOV.UK
This website has lots of information about all the different benefits that are available.
Website: gov.uk/browse/benefits

Disability Rights UK
This website has a number of free factsheets you can download.  It offers basic information about benefits, tax credits, social care and other disability- related issues for claimants and advisers.
Website: disabilityrightsuk.org

Cerebra
Cerebra have a free guide which takes you through each stage of applying for Disability Living Allowance for children.
Tel: 0800 328 1159
Website: cerebra.org.uk

Organisations that offer legal advice

GOV.UK
This will help you find a legal adviser in your area
Website: gov.uk/find-a-legal-adviser
 
Law Centres Network
This will help you find a law centre or other legal advice in your area
Website: lawcentres.org.uk/i-am-looking-for-advice

Citizens Advice
This will give you general information about taking legal advice.
Website: adviceguide.org.uk/england

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Helpline by email at helpline@epilepsy.org.uk.

Pay it forward

This resource is freely available as part of Epilepsy Action’s commitment to improving life for all those affected by epilepsy.

On average it costs £414 to produce an advice and information page – if you have valued using this resource, please text FUTURE to 70500 to donate £3 towards the cost of our future work. Terms and conditions. Thank you


We can provide references and information on the source material we use to write our epilepsy advice and information pages. Please contact our Epilepsy Helpline by email at helpline@epilepsy.org.uk.
Code: 
F066.04

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated August 2014
    To be reviewed August 2015

Comments: read the 27 comments or add yours

Comments

hi fellow people in distress
this is my story in short I'm 36 yrs old for years know I have controlled my seizures through sleep in dark rooms lots of rest and taking recreation drugs(seek pro help) although I''ve quit smoking in general months ago and the last time I took AED was 13 years ago back then the medicine was stronger than the seizure itself relied on last minute seizure friendly tactics like lying down . the seizures for me started at the age of 12 and were constant throughout my secondary school leaving with just 2 gcse .

Submitted by muneer hussain on

My son has had epilepsy from the age of 17 he gets very depressed as the fits are in the morning he feels sick and faint he has had so many jobs as he cant get to work on time at the min he is working 6am-2pm ihe lives on his own so i have to get up at 4-30 am and talk him through getting dressed he has to walk to work which takes 45 min in the dark he used to cycle but he came of after he had a skip as he calls them he is now 26 and struggling with life can anyone please give us some advice on making the mornings easy for him or advice about his work and what the law says he is entitled to its all starting to take its toll on me as i am only getting 4-5 hours sleep

Submitted by Julie on

Hi Julie

That sounds like life is pretty hard for both you and your son. If, as I understand, he still has seizures in the morning, there are a few things he could do to try to improve that situation.

  • I am assuming he is taking epilepsy medicine. It may be worth him talking to his doctor or pharmacist about what time he takes this. Maybe if he took it at a slightly different time, he would be less likely to get seizures.
  • It may be that his dose is not enough for him now. If this is possible then he would need to talk to his family doctor or neurologist about this.
  • You don’t say what job he does, but it may be possible to ask your employer to consider a reasonable adjustment. I am thinking if he was able to start later in the day, this might be easier for him.

If your son is still having seizures, he would be entitled to a free bus pass. If public transport wouldn’t get him to work, then he may want to investigate Access to Work.

I am not quite clear what his problem is in getting dressed, but if it is related to his memory, then he may want to look at our information on this.

Does he get any benefits? If he is continuing to have seizures, then it may be worth his while applying for a Personal Independence Payment. As this is not means-tested, he could get this at the same time as working.

I do hope some of these suggestions take you and your son forward a bit. But If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. 

Cherry Lander

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry on

I'm wondering if you could help. I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2000 when I was 13 my fits weren't often and I was well protected as I was living in a small town and everyone knew what to do when I was 20 they started to get more serious and occurred more often. I moved to a city 3 years ago and my seizures were well controlled, just recently I have started having them daily I am a chef and as a result cannot go to work due to it not being safe. I have been signed off by my doctor but cannot pay my rent due to ssp. Is it safe for me to continue work or should I find something else. Where can I go for help?

Submitted by lisammm on

Hi Lisa

It sounds like you have had a few changes through the years to do with your seizure control.

If you aren’t already doing so, it would be a good idea to talk to your consultant about this. Then they could see if there is a pattern and whether they can suggest anything else to help get them back under control. You may want to keep a seizure diary, in order to show the doctor what is happening with your seizures.

Here is all our information about work and epilepsy. As you have epilepsy you are covered by the Equality Act. This means that your employer should have done a risk assessment for you. Since you started having seizures again, they will hopefully have done a new one for you. My general understanding of the environment in which a chef works, would suggest that it would not be safe for you to work there while your seizures are uncontrolled. Your employers should therefore look at whether it is possible to make any reasonable adjustments to your job. This may depend on whether they have work they could offer you outside the kitchen environment.

If you love your job and you are optimistic about regaining seizure control, and your employer can make reasonable adjustments for you, you may well want to stay in your job. If you are unsure about any of these things, then you might want to start thinking about something else. But certainly don’t leave before you have taken employment advice. This is because how you left could well influence whether you could get benefits or not.

You may be interested in our online community, forum4e. This is for people with epilepsy and carers of people with epilepsy. People can find it really helpful to talk to other people in a similar situation. And there will be other people in forum4e who have been in a similar position to you.

If you don’t think your employers are treating you fairly then you could contact one of the support organisations we have listed.

Here is some information about benefits when you are signed off work. For more information you could contact your local welfare rights unit. Or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Or you could ring Turn2Us. This is an organisation which gives advice on benefits and grants. Their helpline number is 0808 802 2000.

I do hope this gives you most of the information you need to help you with your next steps.

Cherry

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry on

Hello, I am applying for my driving licence after 1 year clear of fits. If for some reason I am not allowed to drive, I will be applying for a bus pass, can my wife also get a free bus pass? I ask this because 1 other person can travel with me using Disabled Persons Railcard, and wondered if same applied for bus pass? Thanks steve

Submitted by Steve on

Hi Steve

Some local council do offer a companion pass for people who are unable to travel conveniently on their own due to a disability. To see if the companion pass is available in your area, please contact your local council.  

Regards

Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane on

I cannot hold a driving licence due to not being seizure free but I have been turned down flat for a bus pass. Is there anything I can do?

Submitted by Kat on

Hi Kat

If you have had seizures in the last 12 months you would be refused a driving licence. This means you should get a bus pass. I am linking you to the information on the government website. This is a pdf. You can find the relevant information on page 6 section 1:7 . Here is what it says:

An eligible person is someone who would, if he or she applied for the grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his/her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Or you could just put concessionary bus pass and your town in the search engine and it should bring us the details of eligibility. You could print that off as that should be the most convincing information for them.

I do hope that sorts it for you.

Cherry

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Cherry on

I am fifteen and recently had two seizures in the past two months after being seizure free for two years on medication. I am confused as to if there is anything I am possibly entitled to so any help would be massively apprieciated as I am genuinely curious if anything would possibly fit my case?

Submitted by Holly on

Hi Holly

As you have had seizures in the last 12 months, you are entitled to a free Disabled Person’s bus pass. This can be used for free travel in England between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday and all day at weekends and Bank Holidays. In some areas, you may also be able to travel free at other times. You may also get reduced local rail fares.

For more information about how to get your free bus pass, contact your local council or your local passenger transport authority. You can find details of these in your local Phone Book, or by contacting Epilepsy Action, freephone 0808 800 5050. Alternatively, a list of local councils in England is on the Directgov website: www.direct.gov.uk

Kind regards

Amanda
Advice and Information Team

Submitted by amanda on

I have been sent home from worn twice in the past 3 months due to seizures which I suffer in clusters. My boss has told me if this happens again or I am sick for any other reason I will be given a formal warning. Can my epilepsy go against my sickness? He knew I was epileptic when I took the job! I don't know how it can be legal for a medical condition to go against your sickness!!!!!

Submitted by Jane on

Can epilepsy count against your sickness?

Submitted by Jane on

Hi Jane

The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) suggests companies record sick leave due to a disability separately and look at it separately from general sick leave. If they don’t, it could be seen as indirect discrimination and/or discrimination arising from a disability. Here is a link to the fact sheet on Flexible working and time off for employers produced by the Equality and Human Rights commission – this is found within the Equality Act starter kit.

It’s advisable for you to look at your terms and condition of employment, which will explain the company’s policy for sick leave. Ideally, your employer should be meeting with you to see if there is anything they can do the help. For example, could altering your hours or some of your duties help? If you don’t need to go home after every seizure, is there somewhere for you rest until you are ready to return to work? If you haven’t already, you may wish to view our information on work. There is information on Risk assessments and Staying in work that I hope you will find helpful.

If your employer has tried to be more flexible to accommodate your epilepsy related absence and there is still a problem you may wish to discuss this further with us or the EASS.

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Regards

Diane Wallace

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane on

Hi there,
I wondered if you could help me or offer me some advice. I am a mum to 2 young children 7 months and 3 years and since having my children my epilepsy has got worse mainly due to lack of sleep. I can have anything up to 8 seizures a night on a bad day and a few seizures a week on a good week. I really struggled sometimes and don't have family support.
Firstly is there any help out there for me? Do I need or can I be registered disabled? Is there any benefits or support I can apply for? Also is there any free hours available for my sons at nursery as I have epilepsy?
Thanking you in advance

Submitted by Andree on

Hi Andree

Thanks for your message. Being a mum to two young children is tiring at the best of times. It’s even more difficult if that exhaustion leads to more seizures.

Registering as disabled is not necessary to get help. The first step would be to contact your local social services for an assessment of your needs. The NHS website has some practical information about help for disabled parents, like how to make the most of your needs assessment.

Turn2Us can help you find what other grants and benefits you could be able to get. They have an online benefits calculator, and a telephone helpline on 0808 802 2000.

Also, all three and four year olds in England are entitled to free early education places of at least 15 hours a week. Some 2 year olds are also eligible. Your local council will have information about registered childcare near you. As well as the government details here, the Family and Childcare Trust  has useful information about the government scheme and more on their website.                                                                                                                     

Sacha Wellborn

Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Sacha on

hi there, i got assulted around 18months-20months ago, and sufferd a sever brain injury along with fractured skull, bleeding on brain and a broken jaw. i was in hospital for two weeks but due to injurys was fitting in hospital so was perscribed epilim, the court case was on goin for 6-8months but the idiot who assulted me got off and didnt do any time behind bars.since then i have sufferd anxity problums im practicaly house bound unless i have a drink. my confidence is at a all time low and the idiot who assalted me came back looking for me 2-3months ago but i was not in. now i have moved away but i stoped all my appointments with headway months ago because i did not feel safe out of my house. but i now realise i can not keep on living like this, i get d.l.a but ive now lost contact with my family we no longer speak and my father works away, i now live with my girlfriend but she's in work till 6pm mon-sat, and my last fit was 1month ago and it was the 1st time she witnessed my firs, and i know she is petrified about my health and does not want to witness another. and my g.p is really woried about my state of mind, and has e-mailed headway to get me back on course to change my life around and get back in to work, but i live 15+miles away from hospital were my headway appointments will be held, but i havnt got the funds to get there and was wondering how do i get hold of a public railcard card. would be a great help to hear from u soon. thanks for your time.

Submitted by matthew davies on

I have from epilepsy for 47 Years and contiously had gran mail sezuires
My work has always been in hospitality, but after many years of management i find myself out of work for nearly a year.after 8 months to be assed for pip was refused because iam mobile and can wash myself so i remain on £60 a week and no home. i try for work but with an average of two sezures a week iam not finding this easy,
i have had many years from young in hospital but still not resolved,
i read everything about what we can claim for but after months of waiting still refused, the only thing that keeps me going is i organise events for charity from the entertainment and venue with promotions and about to do another large charity day.
i wait to go back into hospital after doctors say they canot do no more for me but with so many years of study i no i can have the opertions to the neck to reduce the electricy.
i suffer from depression and caused by so many years of epelepsy damage with traped nerves due to be operated,
After a long story my arguement is nothing is out there when you get older as doctors place you under a lower catergory but with no work no finance the only i look forward to is organising charity events .
if an ybody can help me with charity full time work i have a great to show of the funds raised and a list of future events,
for all the music lovers like myself and the best medicine and cure, iam organising a large ska, northern soul, motown and reggae event, feel free to help

Submitted by Gary Thomas on

Hi Gary

I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties due to your epilepsy. I hope the following information will help.

If the operation you are referring to is the vagal nerve operation, we have information on this. The VNS can be used as an add-on therapy for difficult to control epilepsy.  The benefits of having the VNS can include having fewer or less severe seizures and hopefully an improved quality of life. If you have concerns about the surgery, you may find it helpful to contact others that have already had the VNS fitted. You could try contacting others on our facebook page or our online community, forum4e.

To qualify for PIP you must meet the ‘fifty per cent rule’. So you must need support 50 per cent or more of the time. For example during a month, you must need support in order to be able to complete key tasks, at least 16 out of the 30 or 31 days of the month. In this situation you might qualify for PIP. But if you only needed support for 14 or less of the days, then you wouldn’t qualify for PIP. May I suggest you talk to  Turn2us about your PIP claim? Turn2us is a charity that offers a confidential service which helps people to find out about benefits and grants they may be entitled to. They will ask you questions about your own personal situation to see if you are entitled to PIP.  Apart from your seizures, you need to make them aware of the after effects of our seizures and any support you need at that time. You also need to make them aware of your depression.

I wondered if you have spoken to the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your jobcentre. They can help people with a disability look for a job, or see if there are any new skills they’d like to learn. They can also tell you about disability friendly employers in your area.

Our fundraising team wondered if you’d be interested in our volunteering schemes. And for your events you could register it at www.epilepsy.org.uk/registermyevent. We will then send you a fundraising pack along with a letter of authorisation.

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050.

Yours sincerely

Diane

Advice and Information Services Officer

Submitted by Diane-Epilepsy ... on

Hi I am 31 years old and have been diagnosed with epilepsy since I was 15, my epilepsy was well controlled until this year I have had atleast 5 due to personal stress. I have always worked and I am in my current employment for 4 years now. I have had to stop driving to my seizures, my husband previously worked from home so he was able to do the school runs for my 7 year old boy and drop and pick me up from work.
He has now started a different job as was made redundant from previous work so has to go to work.

I applied for flexible working hours at work as I am find it hard using public transport due to having a serious seizure whilst waiting for the bus and also finding it difficult to be at home when my son finishes school which was ok before as my husband was there.

My flexible working request was rejected as does not suit the business needs. I have appealed and due to being off work sick they have said they set an appeal meeting as I was not in they had to cancel but they sent nothing in writing to say any meeting was set or anything.

There are also other employees working there that are working just two days and they are ok to do that whereas I have a disability and a child and I am refused.

At the moment I am having to rely on my uncle to pick and drop my son to school and have to leave my son at their house for two days a week for me to work. This will not always be convenient for them...

I am stuck and may have to stop working due to the stress and my employers not helping me...is their anything I can do???

p.s sorry about rambling on bit this stress is taking over

Submitted by sam on

Hi Sam

Sorry to hear of the problems you are having with getting your little boy to and from school.  

Due to your epilepsy you are covered by the disability discrimination act. This means, if your epilepsy affects your ability to get to work or to do your job, your employer has to make any reasonable adjustment to help you. However, the adjustments have to be reasonable for both of you. Your employer should discuss and explain their decision with you.

If after this discussion, you think you are being discriminated against, it would be advisable to seek advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (England, Scotland and Wales. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides advice and guidance on rights, responsibilities and good practice, based on the equality law and human rights. They will also tell you what your rights are as a working mum.

I hope things work out for you.

Regards

Diane, Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Mark@Epilepsy Action on

Hi I was just wondering my son is 10 and has been diagnosed with epilepsy recently he has had 20 seizures since August last year is he entitled to a bus pass I know he isn't old enough to drive but was just wondering if he was allowed one thanks

Submitted by Teresa on

Hi Teresa

Your son may be eligible for a concessionary bus pass, it depends if he is getting any welfare benefits because of his epilepsy. These are likely to be the higher rate mobility component of DLA, or the mobility part of PIP. You cans see information about these benefits here.  You would usually apply for the concessionary bus pass through your local council. Here is a link to finding your local council.

Kathy
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Kathy, Epilepsy... on

Hi can my son claim for phi from his employers who may be finishing my son on the grounds of not being able to carry working for them because they say they haven't got anywhere safe for him to work in,which we know is untrue

Submitted by Beverley gell on

Hi, I have recently had a 7 minute tonic/clonic seizure whilst asleep which has resulted in me now being told by my gp I can not drive for a minimum of 6 months. Im not any regular epilepsy medication and im waiting to see a specialist. I have a commute to work which without and discounts nor help will cost me more than double driving. Is there anything I can do as this is threatening my ability to keep my job?
Thanks
Sarah

Submitted by Sarah on

Hi Sarah

It must have been a shock having a seizure. I hope your appointment to the neurologist is soon.

Unfortunately we don’t know if you can apply for a bus. Our information is for someone with a diagnosis of epilepsy and taking epilepsy medicine. Maybe you could contact your local council who supply the bus pass. You will be able to find your council contact details on gov.uk/find-your-local-council.

Think carefully before you give up working, as you may find you are not entitled to any benefits. So for some people this would be an even worse situation to be in.  If you would like to look into this further, you could talk to Citizens Advice or Turn2us who are both benefits advice organistions.

adviceguide.org.uk/england

turn2us.org.uk

Regards

Diane Wallace

Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

Hi, My daughter was diagnosed with child absence epilepsy in March 2014. She was put on Epilim which didn't agree with her at all and she became a different child on this mediciation. Now she is on Ethosuximide and so far so good but she has lost a lot of weight. I was wondering if she is entitled to any benefits? The doctor has told us she musn't be left alone especially when ridering her bike or in a swimming pool for example. Thanks

Submitted by Julie on

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