U.S. CDC Disability Statistics Report
Author: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services : Contact: cdc.gov
Published: 2015-12-24 : (Rev. 2020-11-26)
Synopsis and Key Points:
New report provides state-by-state data on disability types as CDC reveals 53 million adults in the US live with a disability.
We are all at risk of having a disability at some point in our lifetime, health professionals and health care systems need to meet the needs of this growing population.
Although disability information has been collected in national surveys for many years, this was the first time that functional disability type was included in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
In the United States, one out of every five adults has a disability, according to a new study (Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults - United States, 2013) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most common functional disability type was a mobility limitation - defined as serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs - reported by one in eight adults, followed by disability in thinking and/or memory, independent living, vision, and self-care.
The researchers found that the highest percentages of people with disabilities are generally in Southern states, for example Alabama (31.5 percent), Mississippi (31.4 percent), and Tennessee (31.4 percent). The report did not determine why differences occur by state; however, states in the South tend to have some of the higher rates of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which may also be associated with disability.
"We are all at risk of having a disability at some point in our lifetime," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Health professionals and health care systems need to meet the needs of this growing population."
The report also revealed that non-Hispanic black (29 percent) and Hispanic (25.9 percent) adults were more likely to have a disability than were white non-Hispanic (20.6 percent) adults. Those with lower education levels, lower incomes, and those who are unemployed were also more likely to report a disability.
"For the past 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made a positive difference in the lives of those who have disabilities by ensuring better access to buildings, transportation, and employment. Access to preventive health care is also critically important for those with disabilities," said Georgina Peacock, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC's Division of Human Development and Disability. "Many of the health issues that people with disabilities face may be addressed by making sure they have access to health promotion programs and health care services, including preventive health screenings, throughout their lifespan."
CDC is committed to protecting the health and well-being of people with disabilities throughout their lives. Through its state-based disability and health programs and national collaborations, CDC will continue to work to reduce health disparities faced by people with disabilities by facilitating their inclusion in public health surveys, public health programs, emergency preparedness and planning efforts, and accessible health care services. To work toward this goal, CDC provides data, information and resources for public health practitioners, health care providers, and people interested in the health and well-being of people with disabilities.
Although disability information has been collected in national surveys for many years, this was the first time that functional disability type was included in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is an annual, state-based telephone survey conducted by states in collaboration with CDC that gathers information on demographics, health status, health behaviors and disabilities.
Disability Impacts All of Us
Infographic - Disability Impacts All of Us
Snapshot of Disability in the United States
- 22 percent of adults in the United States have some type of disability.
- The percentage of people living with select disabilities in each state is highest in the Southeast.
Percentage of Adults with Select Functional Disability Types*
- 13 percent of people with a disability have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
- 10.6 percent of people with a disability have a cognition disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- 6.5 percent of people with a disability have an independent living disability with difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.
- 4.6 percent of people with a disability have a vision disability with blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
- 3.6 percent of people with a disability have a self-care disability with difficulty dressing or bathing.
Disability and Communities
Disability is especially common in these two groups, women and minorities.
- 1 in 4 women has a disability.
- 3 in 10 non-Hispanic Americans have a disability.
Disability costs 400 billion dollars per year in health care expenditures.
Disability and Livelihood
Nearly half of those with an annual household income of less than 15,000 dollars reported a disability.
- 1 in 3 unemployed adults who are able to work reported a disability.
- 4 in 10 adults who have not completed high school reported a disability.
Disability and Health
Adults with disabilities are more likely to be obese, smoke, have high blood pressure and be inactive:
- 38.4 percent of adults with a disability are obese while 24.4 percent of adults without a disability are obese.
- 30.3 percent of adults with a disability smoke while 16.7 percent of adults without a disability smoke.
- 41.7 percent of adults with a disability have high blood pressure while 26.3 percent of adults without a disability have high blood pressure.
- 36.3 percent of adults with a disability are inactive while 23.9 percent of adults with a disability are inactive.
Adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.
Making a Difference
Public health is for all of us. Join CDC and its partners as we work together to improve the health of people with disabilities. CDC and its partners work together to improve the lives of people with disabilities by:
- Promoting healthy living,
- Monitoring public health data
- Research and reducing health disparities
- Building inclusive health program
- Supporting national and state programs.
* This data source does not assess deafness or serious difficulty hearing. Therefore state-level data on the number of people who have hearing difficulties was not collected and results in a likely underestimate in total number of people with disabilities in the U.S.
Brought to you by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. The Division of Human Development and Disability.
- Courtney-Long EA, Carroll DD, Zhang Q, et al. Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type among Adults, United States - 2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015; 64: 777-783.
- Anderson WL, Armour BS, Finkelstein EA, Wiener JM. Estimates of State-Level Health-Care Expenditures Associated with Disability. 2010 Public Health Rep2010;125:44-51.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) [Internet]. [updated 2014 November 13; cited year month date]. Available from: dhds.cdc.gov
- Carroll DD, Courtney-Long EA, Stevens AC, et al. Vital Signs: Disability and Physical Activity - United States, 2009–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2014;63:407–13.
U.S. Life Expectancy Statistics Chart by States : Chart of human lifespan expectancy statistics sorted by U.S. states and race/ethnicity.
More information about CDC's work to support inclusive public health and health care settings is available at www.cdc.gov/disabilities
- 1: Ireland: Persons with Disabilities Health Survey Results : CSO: Central Statistics Office (2020/12/16)
- 2: 2019 Report on U.S. Disability Employment Rate by State : RespectAbility (2019/02/16)
- 3: U.S. CDC Disability Statistics Report : U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2015/12/24)
- 4: Holistic Health Care Facts and Statistics : Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD (2009/01/16)
- 5: U.S. FBI Hate Crime Statistics 2019 : FBI National Press Office (2020/11/17)
- 6: Disabling Perceptions: Sport and Workplace Disability : The Hartford (2016/03/04)
- 7: Council for Disability Awareness Long-term Disability Claims Review : Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) (2008/12/05)
• Disabled World is strictly a news and information website provided for general informational purpose only and does not constitute medical advice. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.