The Definition of Disability

Have you ever wondered what the definition of disability is in this country?

The Equality Act 2010 defines you as disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

What ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ mean

  • ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, eg a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions, eg arthritis.

Progressive conditions

A progressive condition is one that gets worse over time. People with progressive conditions can be classed as disabled. However, you automatically meet the disability definition under the Equality Act 2010 from the day you’re diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.

What isn’t counted as a disability

There’s guidance on conditions that aren’t covered by the disability definition, eg addiction to non–prescribed drugs or alcohol.

Download: Disability: Equality Act 2010 – Guidance on matters to be taken into account in determining questions relating to the definition of disability (PDF file – 848kb)