By: A.C.

You are reading this blog, so you have an interest in disability.  There are different definitions for “Disability”, used by the Department of Work and Pensions for Benefit Purposes, Tax Concessions for blind people, and the Blue Badge Scheme.

When presented with the word disability, we tend to think of wheelchairs,   yet 95% of disabled people do not use wheelchairs.  The international sign used for “disabled” is instantly recognisable as the wheelchair, and this reinforces how people see disability.

So are you disabled?  The following definition of disability under the Equality Act of 2010 as stated by HM Government is given below and on this link.

The quick definition is  “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”.

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, for example, arthritis. For more details about the special rules download the ‘Equality Act Guidance’.

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 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.

In determining whether one is disabled or not, it is important not to assume a very strict interpretation with regard to definition of the Act. What is more important is the effect and impact of the condition on one’s daily life.  Never make judgements or assumptions about whether you think someone is disabled. Someone can be physically very fit, healthy and strong. They can also be highly intelligent and articulate. Look at our Paralympic Team last year for evidence of that!

Like all legal definitions, the words themselves have definitions and this can be difficult to understand.

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2 Responses to Definitions.

  1. Stephen Will says:

    Dear A.C

    I have experienced the same inaccuracy surrounding definitions over the past 20 years. Having received a kidney transplant in 1994, the definition long-term in my case means a life of medications which can affect concentration, stamina and create problems in joints overtime. The problem exists when then have to convince government agencies and the like that although my problems are not visible and I appear healthy enough these symptoms will be with me for as long as my physiology allows. I have nothing but praise and admiration for the health professionals who have cared for me over the years and gratitude to the family of my donor kidney who gave me a chance to lead a new healthy life. Despite this I do feel sometimes frustration that the definition for my illness and its side effects were never in dispute.

    Stephen Will

  2. AC says:

    You are not alone Stephen. You are evincing the experience of most of our members. In very simple terms, one can be quite disabled and find that sustaining the ability to ” work” is nigh impossible. The hated Government Assessment Test, in very simplistic terms, accepts that you may be disabled, but for their present policy of Welfare Reform they have a very rigid set of rules that is causing real hardship and despair to many.

    Please get in contact with our very knowledgeable Staff at the Office if you require help or advice. Or speak in real -time to menbers and other on our Facebook Page. If you are in our area why not drop -by and just talk to us.

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