The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as a person with a disability. A person has a disability for the purposes of the Act if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Lupus affects patients in many different ways and while some patients with lupus would be classed as having a disability under the Equality Act, many would not. So for example a patient who has mild skin lupus that does not affect their day to day life in any way would not meet this definition. Similarly a patient with systemic lupus who is in complete remission and asymptomatic and who is able to live a normal life would also not be classed as having a disability.
In contrast a patient with lupus who had suffered severe disease that left them substantially unable to carry out their normal activities of daily living would certainly be classed as having a disability. Thus patients who have had strokes leaving them paralysed, or severe musculoskeletal disease that limited their mobility or heart or lung disease that meant that they were too breathless to perform their daily activities would all meet the definition of having a disability. Many patients are severely fatigued and if this limits their day to day activities this would classify them as having a disability. Thus having lupus itself does not always mean that a patient will be classed as having a disability – it is how the lupus has affected the patient that it should be taken into account. This is important when patients with lupus apply for benefits or when their clinicians compile medical reports on their behalf.
For more details on this complex area see Equality Act 2010
Patients with lupus are not entitled to free prescriptions or discounts on public transport unless they meet other criteria.
When attending hospital appointments it may be possible to claim back the costs of travelling to the hospital and this will depend on the local policies of the individual hospital.