Living with a long-term condition
Epilepsy is a very individual condition: some people will have it all their life, but for others they might have it just for a period of their life and their epilepsy might 'go away'. So for some, epilepsy is a long-term condition.
For most people, seizures become well controlled (they still have epilepsy but the medication is stopping the seizures) and so it has little impact on them. For others, seizures may take longer to become controlled or may not respond to treatment. Epilepsy might have a greater impact on them, and they may need support and help with work, education, or daily life.
When epilepsy is a disability
Epilepsy is sometimes classed as a disability. While some people find the term ‘disability’ negative or a ‘label’ that doesn’t feel right, it can be useful to know what this term means and how it might help you access help and support.
The Equality Act 2010 is a law that aims to ensure people are treated fairly and not discriminated against. This applies to employment, school and learning, and accessing services (such as using shops, health services or leisure facilities). Groups specifically covered by the act include people with disabilities.
Epilepsy is considered a disability when it greatly affects someone’s ability to do everyday activities (such as concentrating or remembering things), over a long period of time. Epilepsy is sometimes described as a hidden disability because it is not usually obvious that someone has the condition unless they have a seizure.
Whether you feel that you have a disability or not, you are protected by the Equality Act if your epilepsy affects you in this way. Depending on your situation, there may be help available to you, such as benefits or support at home.
Want to find out more?
Find out more about your care and treatment and check your rights and recommendations for the management of your care.
Find out more about what help is available including free prescriptions and discounted travel.
Find out more about benefits.
Information updated September 2018
Epilepsy Society's confidential helpline is available for anyone affected by epilepsy. We welcome calls from people with epilepsy, their families and friends, as well as professionals such as doctors, nurses, care workers, teachers and employers.
Many people who contact us say that having someone to talk to, who has epilepsy or knows about epilepsy, can be really helpful and reassuring. It can be an important part of coming to terms with a diagnosis of epilepsy.
You are entitled to free prescriptions for your epilepsy medications. You may be able to get financial help towards the cost of travel to medical appointments and to work.
If you have epilepsy you may be eligible to apply for benefits. This depends on what your epilepsy is like and how it affects you.
Having seizures, or being told “you have epilepsy”, can affect people in different ways. This includes driving, sleep, work and travel.
Having epilepsy does not necessarily stop someone from doing the job they want, but there are some issues which can affect them at work. Whether someone’s epilepsy affects their work depends on whether they have seizures, what their seizures are like and how often these happen.