Definition of Disability under the Equality Act 2010


You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 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.

The Equality Act 2010 doesn't apply to Northern Ireland find out more on NI Direct

What 'substantial' and 'long-term' mean
  • 'substantial' is more than minor or trvial - eg it takes much longer that 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, for example, arthritis.  For more details about the special rules download the 'Equality Act Guidance'.

Download 'Equality Act Guidance' (PDF, 789KB)


Progressive Conditions

A progressive condition is a condition 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

Some conditions aren’t covered by the disability definition. These include addiction to non–prescribed drugs or alcohol. To find out about the conditions which aren’t covered, download the ‘Equality Act Guidance’.

Download 'Equality Act Guidance' (PDF, 789KB)


Further resources:

Reasonable adjustments for disabled workers

Medical conditions, disabilities and driving

Financial help if you're disabled

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