54.4 Million Americans, About 1 In 5 US Residents, Report That They Are Disabled To Some Extent

About one in five U.S. residents – 19% – reported some level of disability, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released recently.  Among those disabled Amercians, 35 million, or 12% of the population, were classified as having a severe disability.

Some of the important findings in the U.S. Census Bureau report follow:

  • A wide variety of disabilities were reported among the population: 7.8 million (3%) had difficulty hearing a normal conversation, including 1 million being unable to hear at all. Roughly 3.3 million people, or 1%, aged 15 and older used a wheelchair or similar device, with 10.2 million, or 4%, using a cane, crutches or walker.  Nearly 7.8 million people aged 15 and older had difficulty seeing words or letters in ordinary newspaper print, including 1.8 million being completely unable to see. More than 16 million people had difficulty with cognitive, mental or emotional functioning, including 8.4 million with problems that interfere significantly with daily activities, such as frequently being depressed or anxious, trouble getting along with others, trouble concentrating or coping with stress.   
  • The chances of having a disability increase with age: 18.1 million people aged 65 and older, or 52%, had a disability. Of this number, 12.9 million, or 37%, had a severe disability. For people 80 and older, the disability rate was 71%, with 56% having a severe disability.
  • Ability to support oneself through employment decreased as severity of disability increased: Among people aged 16 to 64, 13.3 million, or 7%, reported difficulty finding a job or remaining employed because of a health-related condition. Among people with a severe disability, 27% were in poverty, compared with 12% for people with a nonsevere disability and 9% for those without a disability. Median monthly earnings were $1,458 for people with a severe disability,  $2,250 for people with a nonsevere disability and $2,539 for those with no disability. 
  • Millions of children were reported to be disabled: 228,000 children under age 3, or 2%, had a disability, typically either a developmental delay or difficulty moving their arms or legs. There were 475,000 children aged 3 to 5 years, or 4%, with a disability, either a developmental delay or difficulty walking, running or playing.  There were also 4.7 million children aged 6 to 14, or 13%, with a disability.  The most prevalent type of disability for this age group was difficulty doing regular schoolwork (2.5 million, or 7%).  

Source: US Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/013041.html