Department of Neurology

Epilepsy and employment

Q: Hi, my name is Bev and my boyfriend has epilepsy, and he lives in California. I don't know much about the disease and am looking up all the information I can get my hands on. I do have one question that is not listed in most articles that I have found. My question is: Can epilepsy prevent a person from holding down and being productive in a full time occupation? Also, in the US are people with epilepsy protected under the Disabilites act, or is there such an act? As well I would like to contact an association in California to do more research in his area, would you be able to give me some contact organization in his area? I know when he takes his medication on a regular basis he has no seizures, but he seems to feel he can never hold down employment, so I need to know why?

Is there some statistics you could send me, on the percentage of people with epilepsy that are employed and those that are on Social Security because of their disability like him?? Thanking you in advance.


A: If a person with epilepsy is completely controlled, there is no reason why their epilepsy should be a barrier to employment. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects against discrimination against persons with epilepsy who are able to perform their job. Persons with uncontrolled epilepsy are also protected by this act, since epilepsy cannot be used to discriminate against employment as long as an individual can carry out the functions of their job.

I suggest you look at the Epilepsy Foundation of America Home Page (http://www.efa.org), which lists local epilepsy associations to find an affiliate near you. Most of the associations are involved in patient advocacy, and can help your boyfriend with information on employment. The prevalence of unemployment among persons with epilepsy varies, but may be as high as 50% in some series.

Remember, there are many famous and important persons with epilepsy, who have found epilepsy a challenge, but not an obstruction to their goals.

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