This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.

Is there a national register of disabled people?

​No, there’s currently no national register of people with disabilities. Some local authorities may operate voluntary registers in their areas. These voluntary registers are used by local authorities to ​plan future services. Registration does not automatically give entitlement to benefits.

Do I need to register as disabled with my local authority?

Some local authorities keep registers ​​of disabled people in their area. Under Section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948 local authorities may compile and maintain a register of disabled persons in order to ensure that local services can be tailored to meet their needs. Registration is voluntary and registration does not automatically entitle a person to any benefits or support – this would be dependent on a separate assessment of the person’s needs and, in some cases, their resources.​

In addition, section 77 of the Care Act 2014 provides that a local authority may establish and maintain one or more registers of adults in their area for the purposes in particular of: 

  • planning the provision by the authority of services to meet needs for care and support, and
  • monitoring changes over time in the number of adults in the authority’s area with needs for care and support and the types of needs they have

A register or registers under the Care Act could cover people who:

  • have a disability; or
  • have a physical or mental impairment which is not a disability but which gives rise, or which in the future could give rise, to needs for care and support, or
  • are any other category of persons the authority considers appropriate to include.

For these purposes, “disability” has the meaning given by section 6 of the Equality Act 2010.

The 2014 Act also requires local authorities to establish and maintain a register of people living in their area who are sight impaired. ​​

​Do I need to register as blind or partially sighted?

No it’s voluntary. But if you register with your local council as blind or partially sighted you may be entitled to some concessions, including travel concessions and if you are registered blind a reduction in your TV license. The NHS website, Blindness and vision loss has more information on this.

​​Do I need to register as deaf?

No it’s voluntary. You can get access to social services via your local authority for advice on their services without registering as deaf. However registering as deaf with your local authority may entitle you to travel concessions. The NHS website, Registering as deaf​ has more information on this.

Do I need to register as disabled to be entitled to disability welfare benefits?

No, eligibility for disability welfare benefits (e.g. Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Attendance Allowance (AA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) does not depend on a person being on a register of disabled people. 

Furthermore, eligibility is not normally dependent on being diagnosed as having a certain medical condition (special rules can apply to people diagnosed with a terminal illness). 

Eligibility is based on how a person’s physical or mental condition affects them. For example:

  • The test for PIP looks at how a person’s disability affects their ability to undertake specific daily living activities and mobility activities.
  • Eligibility for AA is based on the extent to which a person’s disability means that they need help from another person in connection with their bodily functions, or supervision in order to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others.
  • ​​​The Work Capability Assessment, which is used to determine eligibility for ESA, assesses the extent to which a person’s disability affects their ability to work or perform work-related activity. ​

Do I need to register as disabled for a Blue Badge parking permit?

No, but you will need to apply to your local council they handle applications and issue Blue Badges. You may be eligible to apply for a Blue Badge if you have severe mobility problems. The Blue badge allows you can park close to places you need to go.

For more details on applying see the GOV.UK webpage, Apply for or renew a Blue Badge.

​​What was the Disabled Persons Employment Register? 

The Disabled Persons Register (and the accompanying quota scheme) ceased to exist from December 1996 following the coming into force of the ​​Disability Discrimination Act 1995. ​ 

Under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 the Government was required to establish and maintain a disabled persons employment register, and employers with 20 or more employees were required to employ a quota (3%) of registered disabled people. Registration was voluntary and only a small proportion of disabled people ever registered.  is the definition of disability?

What is the definition of disability?

The definition usually used for disability is as defined in Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010, as shown on the GOV.UK website, 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.

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, eg 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’re diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.

What isn’t counted as a disability​?

There’s guidance on conditions that aren’t covered by the disability definition, eg addiction to non–prescribed drugs or alcohol.​

​Please note that for disability benefit claims the entitlement to claim is based on how the disability affects them (see answer to Do I need to register as disabled to be entitled to disability welfare benefits?,​ above).

Further Information


The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.