What help is available?
If you have epilepsy, you may be entitled to different sources of help.
You are entitled to free prescriptions for your epilepsy (and all other) medications. You may be able to get financial help towards the cost of travel to medical appointments and to work. You may also be entitled to discounted bus, rail and tube travel in some areas. You may be eligible for some welfare benefits and tax credits. If you need support with daily living or equipment, an assessment from social services may be helpful. There is also help available if you are a carer of a person with epilepsy.
Your entitlements will depend on what your epilepsy is like and how it affects you. The information below tells you more, and includes the contact details and links to other sources of information and help.
People with epilepsy are entitled to free prescriptions for their anti-epileptic medication, as well as any other prescribed drugs (but not dental treatment or eye tests). To apply for free prescriptions in England, fill in the form FP92A, available from your doctors’ surgery. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all prescriptions are free.
Travel costs for medical appointments
If you are on a low income or on benefits you may be able to claim back some of your costs of travelling to some medical appointments, under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. Call the Low Income Scheme helpline on 0300 330 1343 for details.
Some equipment designed specifically to help people with disabilities does not include VAT. For example, you may not have to pay VAT on a seizure alarm system.
Call the HM Revenue and Customs Helpline on 0845 010 9000 for information or visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.
Access to work
If you are unable to use public transport because of your epilepsy, you may be able to get financial help towards the cost of your transport to and from work, as part of the Access to Work scheme. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office or visit www.gov.uk for more information.
Discounted public transport
People with epilepsy may be eligible for free or discounted public transport. For example, if you have had a seizure in the last year and so have had to give up your driving licence, or would be refused a licence on medical grounds. You may have to pay for a letter from your doctor to confirm that you are not able to drive.
Bus and tube travel
- England: If you are not able to drive on medical grounds you should be eligible for a free national bus pass. Contact your local council for an application form or visit: www.gov.uk for more information.
- London: You may be entitled to a Freedom Pass which gives free bus, train, tram and tube travel. Contact your local council for an application form.
- Scotland: The 'National Entitlement Card' gives you free travel throughout Scotland. Contact your local council (or Travel Card Unit in Strathclyde) for an application form, or call Epilepsy Scotland's Helpline on 0808 800 2200.
- Northern Ireland: People with epilepsy are eligible for a Half Fare SmartPass for discounted bus travel. Visit www.nidirect.gov.uk
- Wales: People with disabilities are eligible for free bus travel throughout Wales. Contact your local council for an application form.
You may be able to get a disabled person’s railcard. This card gives you, and a companion, a third off most fares. Call 0845 605 0525 or visit www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk.
Some coach operators, such as National Express, offer half-fare schemes for people with disabilities. Contact companies directly for more details.
See our driving and travel information for more.
If you have epilepsy you may be entitled to benefits, depending on how your epilepsy affects you.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) are benefits that do not depend on your income, or whether or not you work.
From 8 April 2013, DLA will start to be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for working age people (16 to 64 years).
PIP will not replace Attendance Allowance (which will continue). If you are over 64 and need help to look after yourself you may be able to claim AA.
To be entitled to these benefits you need to have 'care needs' or 'mobility needs' which may include the need for supervision.
> See our benefits information for more
The following agencies have information on benefits.
- Benefits Enquiry Line: 0800 882 200. Advice and information, run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
DIAL UK or call 01302 310 123. Independent, trained benefits advisors who may also be able to help with completing forms.
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or see your local phone book for your nearest CAB office. Information on benefits.
GOV.UK Government site with benefits information.
Help from Social Services
Depending on what your epilepsy is like, you may be entitled to have an assessment of your needs.
An assessment normally takes place in your home and looks at whether you have any physical difficulties, health, social or housing needs, and what support you already receive, for example from family or friends.
If the assessment identifies that you have needs which meet the local authority’s criteria, then they have a duty to arrange relevant community care services for you. These services may include meals, home help, adaptations to the home, such as installing a shower or an alarm system, and access to leisure activities. You may need to pay some of the costs.
Contact your local social services department to ask for an 'needs assessment'.
Help for families
We have information about children and education, information for young people, and books for parents and children, and we also offer support through our helpline. We also have dedicated sections of our Forum for parents, and for young people.
The following organisations also offer support.
- Contact a Family offers support for families with children who have a medical condition or disability. This includes information about medical conditions, benefits, local facilities and events.
- Family Fund offers grants for families or carers with a child (17 and under) who has a severe disability.
Help for students
Students with epilepsy in higher education can get a Disabled Students' Allowance and practical support. DSA is designed to help cover the cost of any practical support you need as a direct result of your epilepsy. It does not depend on your income or that of your household. Unlike student loans, DSA does not have to be repaid.
Help for carers
If you are a carer for someone with a disability, and this is not paid or organised voluntary work, you may be able to receive some help, even if you are not living with the person you are caring for.
You may be entitled to a Carer’s assessment from your social services department. This may identify the need for home help, respite care, emotional support or other services. Some carers can claim Carer’s Allowance (see Benefits section for agencies who can give more information).
There are organisations that support carers by giving information, providing respite care and campaigning for carers' rights.
See our pages for carers for more information.
There are lots of ways that you can find support, such as from people around you, from your healthcare team or from a helpine.
You can order a copy of our factsheet 'what help is available?' from our online shop as part of our 'first five free' offer.
© Epilepsy Society
Information produced April 2013