Under the Equality Act you are considered disabled if you have:

‘A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

When looking to see if this applies to your situation or the person you care for you should consider the following:

  • “Impairment” is not defined in the Act but will include the effects or symptoms of the illness, as well as the diagnosis;
  • “Substantial” means the effect of the illness on your life must be more than small or minor;
  • The impairment will count as “long term” if it’s lasted for at least 12 months, or is likely to last for at least 12 months, or is likely to last for the rest of your life;
  • “Adverse” means negative.

Some “physical and mental impairments” that may meet this definition include:

  • Mental health conditions – (e.g. depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia etc.);
  • Autism spectrum disorders;
  • Learning disabilities;
  • Progressive conditions (e.g. motor neurone disease, dementia etc.);
  • Conditions affecting organs (e.g. heart disease, bronchitis, strokes etc.);
  • Conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, ME;
  • Impairments due to injuries to the body or brain.

Addiction to substances does not count as a disability under the Equality Act, but conditions caused by this may count (e.g. liver disease, depression).

There are conditions which are automatically counted as disabilities under the Equality Act as follows:

  • Cancer;
  • HIV infection;
  • Multiple Sclerosis;
  • Severe disfigurement – not including tattoos and piercings;
  • If you’re certified blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted by a consultant ophthalmologist.