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What counts as disability

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F51

There is no single definition of disability in use in the UK. These are all the current definitions and how they are used.

Disability and independent living

Physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities

This is used to define those people covered by the disability sections of the Equality Act 2010

Substantially and permanently disabled

This is used for registering as disabled with a local authority social care department. Under the Care Act 2014 local authorities must establish and maintain a register of sight-impaired and severely sight-impaired adults.

Local authorities also have the discretion to maintain a register of adults with other disabilities or health conditions, which the authority considers may, in the future, give rise to needs for care and support.

Disability and benefits/tax credits/council tax

Disability living allowance, personal independence payment and attendance allowance each have their own tests of disability.

Limited capability for work

This is used for employment and support allowance and the work capability elements of universal credit

Incapacity for work

This is used for statutory sick pay, incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, income support and the unemployability supplement under the Industrial Injuries and War Disablement schemes (the test varies according to the benefit you claim).

Degree of disablement

This is used for industrial injuries disablement benefit, war disablement pension and vaccine damage payments.

At a disadvantage in getting a job

This is used for the disabled worker element of working tax credit

Substantially and permanently disabled

This is used for for getting a disability reduction in your council tax

More information

You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

2 November 2016