Disability in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

A disability is any condition, physical or mental, that significantly impacts a person’s life activities. The most common types of disability affect mobility, hearing, vision, and cognition. As of 2019, around 13.2 percent of the U.S. population had some type of disability. Disability is more common among older individuals, with almost half of those aged 75 years and older living with a disability.

The most common types of disabilities

The most common type of disability in the U.S. are ambulatory disabilities, which affects a person’s mobility. In 2018, an estimated 5 percent of those aged 21 to 64 years and 31 percent of people aged 75 years and older had such a disability. Ambulatory disabilities are most common in the states of West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The states with the lowest rates of ambulatory disability are Utah and Minnesota, with 3.8 and 4.5 percent of the population of these states with this disability, respectively. The most common type of disability among those aged 20 years and below are cognitive disabilities. Those with cognitive disabilities have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions because of a physical, mental or emotional condition.

Employment among those with disabilities

Because disabilities affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, they can significantly impact one’s ability to work. In 2019, the employment rate among those with a disability was 39 percent, compared to almost 79 percent for those without a disability. Those with vision disabilities are employed at higher rates than any other disability, with 54.4 percent of this population employed, compared to 53.6 percent of people with a hearing disability, and 28.6 percent of those with a cognitive disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects the rights of those suffering from a disability and makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities in various ways. However, a lack of understanding and negative attitudes towards such employees can still adversely affect employment opportunities for those with disabilities.

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