Can people with epilepsy work?
If you are not in control of your seizures, choose a job you can work at home or at your own pace. But, if you have your seizures under control, you should be able to apply for most anything. You will want to become comfortable talking about seizures so that you can explain to your boss how they affect or do not affect your job performance.
Can employers deny me a job just because I have epilepsy?
No, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which became law on July 26, 1990, protects people with disabilities from discrimination.
What protections does this act afford?
Before an employer offers someone a job, they cannot ask if they have a disability, how severe their disability is, or ask any questions that could lead to the job applicant disclosing information about their disability. In addition, the employer cannot ask how the person became disabled and their prognosis. An applicant can take a medical exam given by the employer if the employer requires the test of everyone who applies. Medical information about applicants must remain confidential, with a few exceptions. If an employer withdraws a job offer after a medical exam, the employer must prove that it was not discriminatory. They must divulge the reason for withdrawal. It must be business-related, or they must prove that the person with a disability poses a safety threat to the other employees. They also must demonstrate that there is no way that the employer could have made accommodations so that the employee with the disability would not be a threat. Once the employee begins working, the employer can only ask questions about their disability if they think the person cannot complete the task due to his or her disability or is a safety threat. However, when a person asks for accommodations, the boss can obtain medical information about the person if their disability is not unclear. However, the boss can ask for more medical information in other rare cases, such as a federal or local law needing information about affirmative action.
How do I talk to my boss about my epilepsy?
Discuss the length of time you have had epilepsy and how well you are managing it.
If you can drive, mention this.
Divulge how long you have gone without a seizure and that many studies suggest that the longer you go without an episode, the more likely you will not have an epileptic attack.
If you have never had a convulsive seizure, then mention this.
If your seizures are only occasional, divulge this and detail how they will last only for a short period.
Remember to discuss how having seizures will affect your job.
What do I do if I feel that my employers have discriminated against me?
You are free to file a complaint to the EEOC within 180 days of the specific event you are reporting. However, if you are unsure about your case, we recommend speaking to an attorney. For more information about obtaining an attorney and general questions, call the the Epilepsy Foundation SETN at 423-380-8545 and we can connect you with a local attorney. You can also visit the Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund at
www.epilepsylegal.org, or call our Information and Referral Service toll-free at (800) EFA-1000 ((800) 332-1000).
How long must I be seizure-free to drive?
In Tennessee and Georgia, one must be seizure-free for one year, and you will need a doctor's recommendation before you can apply to get a license. But, if it has only been six months without seizures, a person may submit a doctor's recommendation, go before the medical review board, and possibly submit other documents to get approved. If one has had their license suspended or denied, they can request an administrative hearing. However, it has to be within 30 days of the notice of suspension. If you want to appeal the outcome, then a petition to appeal must be made within ten days of the hearing. After all the other appeals are exhausted, the last appeal is a petition for review in a chancery court, and you must file it within 60 days after the hearing.
Can people with epilepsy drive commercially?
Yes, in Tennessee and Georgia, one must be seizure-free for one year, and you will need a doctor's recommendation before you can apply to get a license.
Are doctors in Tennessee and Georgia required to report their patients for epilepsy?
No, in Tennessee and Georgia, there is no required reporting.
Are people with epilepsy more likely to get in a car accident?
People with epilepsy are not necessarily more likely to crash. For example, a recent study reported that people with epilepsy are only 1.13 and 2.16 more likely to have a car accident than the average person. Interestingly enough, the fatality rate of those accidents is lower for people with epilepsy than the highest risk groups of drivers, such as someone intoxicated.
I cannot drive. How can I get around?
If you can safely access it, then public transportation is a great way to get around. However, if due to the severity of your seizures, you cannot wait for a bus, there is
Paratransit service. These services go to their client’s location and pick them up, whether they are at home or another site. You qualify for this type of service if you cannot safely travel out, wait for a bus, ride a bus, or get on and off the bus even when it has been made accessible. You can access this service by calling your country's transit authority, giving a detailed description of your disability, and why it makes using the bus impossible. In addition, you will most likely need to provide a note from your doctor.
What happens if the public transportation system refuses to accommodate me?
According to Title III of the American's with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the public transportation system has to provide you with reasonable accommodations, or you may make an ADA compliant to the Department of Justice.
What are the kinds of health insurance that are available?
Affordable Care Act Marketplace: Helps families and individuals afford private insurance by affording them subsidies to pay the premiums. The same law that created the marketplace also reformed many aspects of the insurance business to protect people with differing pre-existing conditions, end the lifetime and annual dollar limits that had existed before, and allow states to extend their Medicaid programs.
Employer-Sponsored Insurance: The majority of people receive insurance through their job with laws at the federal and state level that govern this. The majority of employer-sponsored insurance programs must follow the affordable care act guidelines.
Medicaid: The state and the federal government work together to provide insurance for people who have low income. Each state runs its own Medicaid program according to the parameters that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued. It is the number one payer for long-term services and support, which includes community and home-based services.
Medicare: It covers people who are 65 and older or younger people with disabilities. This program covers any inpatient or outpatient care. They have the option of using a prescription drug plan that is separate from their medicare plan. Beneficiaries can use a private plan called Medicare Advantage. Medicare does not have an out-of-pocket maximum.
Telehealth: It is an excellent way to reach rural areas, who do not have any doctors nearby. The pandemic has increased telehealth coverage, which helps people with epilepsy who cannot drive.
What do seizure dogs do?
Trainers can teach seizure dogs to do a variety of different tasks for people with epilepsy. Some of their skills include moving their body between the person seizing and a hard object like the floor or barking to let other people know the person is seizing.
How do you get a seizure dog?
You may purchase a dog and then talk to a trainer on how best to teach your dog to respond to seizures. However, when it comes to recognizing seizures in advance, you should be careful of purchasing dogs from a trainer who says they can teach these skills. For more information, please visit the website
Can I play sports safely?
Yes, for most people with epilepsy, sports are recommended. However, if you have seizures when you overheat, you will want to take precautions when it is very hot outside.
What other precautions should I take?
Swimming: Check with your doctor to see how well you are controlling your seizures. If your seizures are not well controlled, do not swim unless you have a friend there or a lifeguard. Life jackets can be a good idea when doing water-based activities or when the water is not clear.
Mountain Climbing: Pay careful attention to your safety precautions and any dangers to yourself or other members of your party.
Contact Sports: You want to think about the risks involved because of possible hits to your head. If you still desire to play contact sports, discuss it with your doctor and your coach.
Other activities that would be dangerous if you were to lose consciousness suddenly should be discussed with your doctor.
What are some other general safety tips?
Take breaks frequently, save your exertion for the coolest part of the day.
Exercise on a soft surface.
Consider wearing a life vest if you are on open water.
Do not swim alone if you have seizures. Ensure that the people you swim with and the lifeguard know what kind of seizures you have and how to recognize them. Also, make sure that their swimming skills are sufficient to help you if needed.
If there is a risk of head injuries or falling in contact sports, then wear a helmet.
When skiing or hiking, go with another person. You may want to use a safety strap and hook on the ski lift.
How do you manage risk with your child with epilepsy?
A seizure that ends normally after a minute or two is usually not hazardous to a child who has epilepsy.
However, risks increase when the seizure happens near water, at heights, near traffic, or in any setting in which sudden loss of awareness could be dangerous.
Parents naturally want to protect a child who has this extra level of risk on top of all the other risks that accompany a normal childhood. However, excessive concern about risk may isolate children with epilepsy from others and reduce social interaction. The following information may help you strike a balance.
How do you keep your children with epilepsy safe around water?
Water can be a hazard to children with seizures, whether it is in a swimming pool, at the beach, or in the bathtub.
-Supervise young children closely during tub baths.
-Have older children take showers, not tub baths.
-Set water temperature low so a child won’t be scalded if consciousness is lost while hot water is running.
-Hang bathroom doors so they open outwards, and remove locks.
-Make sure shower and bath drains run quickly and are unobstructed.
How do you keep your children with epilepsy safe when swimming?
A child with epilepsy — or any child — should never swim alone, or be on a boat or close to water (including backyard wading pools) without a flotation device or life jacket.
-Carefully supervise children near water.
-Make sure an adult is present who knows your child has epilepsy and is a good enough swimmer to help if your child has a seizure in the water.
-Tell lifeguards or swimming instructors at local pools or beaches that your child has seizures.
If a child has a seizure in water, he or she should be checked by a lifeguard or parent. If there is any possibility that water has been swallowed or breathed into the lungs, get a medical check up
What should you consider when your child is playing other sports?
Unless your child’s doctor recommends otherwise, sports activities and other exercise are as beneficial to a child with epilepsy as they are to any other child.
In general, school sports activities and gym should be open to all children, including children with seizures. Safety measures such as harnesses, shock absorbing mats and adult supervision should reduce risks.
Coaches and other officials should be aware that a child has seizures, and how the parents want them to be managed.
Wearing safety helmets when riding a bicycle, or for sports where head injury is possible, should reduce risk.