Definition of Disability Under the Equality Act 2010

You are 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.

What ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ mean

  • ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, for example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed

  • ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, for example a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions (external link), for example 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 are diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.

What is not counted as a disability

There is guidance on conditions that are not covered by the disability definition (external link), for example addiction to non–prescribed drugs or alcohol.