35 Crucial Disability Statistics & Facts to Know in 2021

Disability Statistics

More than one billion people are living with some form of disability. Despite such prevalence, the world is still treating them poorly. Our team urges everyone reading this article to learn more about our students, colleagues, friends, family, and partners with the latest disability statistics. Acquaint yourself with this thoroughly compiled data to pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible future.

10 Most Important Disability Statistics for 2021

  • In developing countries, around 90% of children with disabilities don’t go to school.
  • There are three major risk factors for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Around 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.
  • Native Americans have the highest prevalence of disability—18.1%.
  • 7.1 million students receive special education services, as per children with disabilities statistics.
  • West Virginia has the highest rate of people with disabilities—19.8%.
  • About 30% of children with disabilities are denied enrollment at their local schools.
  • People with hearing disabilities have the highest annual earnings—$48,500.
  • PTSD disability rates show veterans can get a 50% PTSD disability rating.
  • Rhode Island reports the highest percentage of people receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

Disability Statistics Worldwide

The section below covers everything there is to know about disability worldwide—from the number of people with disabilities to risk factors that make them more vulnerable in the ongoing pandemic. For that and much more, keep reading.

1. Around 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.

(WHO)

The percentage of the population on disability translates to an astounding one billion people worldwide. Of them, up to 190 million people over the age of 15 (3.8%) live with a significant disability. Generally, the number of people with disabilities is growing, driven by the surge in chronic health conditions and the increase of aging populations.

2. Disability is much more prevalent among people with lower incomes.

(WHO) (CDC)

Disability statistics reveal that an overwhelming half of people with disabilities cannot afford healthcare. Transportation is yet another reason why many people do not receive much-needed healthcare.

3. Germany, France, and Japan are some of the countries with the best disability benefits.

(The Guardian)

These countries offer some of the best disability benefits, according to disability statistics by country. Those with a disability in Germany who cannot work for more than three hours a day are eligible for a disability pension, provided they have contributed to a social security scheme for a minimum of five years. In France, a caregiver is given around $1,300 per month to assist those who can’t work. In Japan, people receive generous benefits and discounts on public transportation and telecom fees.

4. In developing countries, around 90% of children with disabilities don’t go to school.

(UNESCO)

Child disability statistics show that over 90% of children in developing countries with disabilities do not go to school. Another critical point is that students with disabilities are more likely to become victims of violence.

5. In the US, 21.1% of people living with disabilities smoke, according to statistics on disability.

(CDC)

In the US, almost a quarter of adults with disabilities smoke, compared with 13.3% of adults without disabilities. As smoking puts one at a high risk of smoking-related diseases and death, it is of utmost importance that such a high prevalence of smokers among people with disabilities is addressed.

6. Stroke reduces mobility in more than 50% of stroke survivors aged 65 and over.

(CDC)

According to stroke disability statistics, stroke is one of the leading causes of severe and long-term disability. In a nutshell, it reduces mobility in more than half of the stroke survivors aged 65 and over. Note that, every year, over 795,000 Americans have a stroke.

7. There are three major risk factors for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(WHO)

Disability statistics uncover the major risk factors. The first one is the risk of getting infected, of course. Then, there is the risk of developing severe symptoms and dying from COVID-19. The third risk factor is having poorer health for the duration of the pandemic or afterward, regardless of whether they had the virus or not.

8. Of all COVID-19 deaths from March to July 2020 in the UK, six in ten were people with disabilities.

(ONS)

According to the UK disability stats, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, totaling 59% of all deaths March–June 2020. In comparison, the number from the 2011 Census stood at 16%.

Disability Statistics in America

More than 10% of Americans live with a disability, with Native Americans recording the highest disability prevalence. Read on to find out more about the reality of people with disabilities in the US.

Percentage of People in the US With a Disability As of 2019, by State

9. West Virginia has the highest number of people with disabilities— 19.8%. 

(Statista)

As far as the disability statistics by state are concerned, the three states with the highest number of people with disabilities are West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arkansas. As many as 19.8% of those living in West Virginia are people with disabilities. In comparison, the number stands at 17.8% in Kentucky and 17.5% in Arkansas.

10. As of 2019, around 13.2% of people in the US were living with a disability.

(Annual Report)

According to the 2019 disability statistics annual report, 43,227,000 Americans were living with some form of disability. That translates to 13.2% of the US population, marking a slight increase from 2018 when the number was 13.1%

11. Native Americans have the highest prevalence of disability—18.1%.

(Cornell University)

According to US disability statistics, Native Americans account for 18.1% of all people with disabilities, followed by Blacks at 13.6%, Whites at 10.6%, and Asians at 4.4%. Other races account for 9.5% of all people with disabilities.

12. Ambulatory disability is the most common type of disability in the US, affecting 6.6% of Americans. 

(Statista)

The disability is more common in older people aged 65 and over, with around 22.5% of them having it. At the same time, 5.1% of people aged 18–64 have this disability. It is said to be most common in West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky.

13. 32.2 million Americans aged 18 and over have experienced vision loss.

(AFB)

It has been confirmed that approximately 13.7 million men and 18.5 million women have reported vision loss. Note that vision loss refers to both having trouble seeing and being blind, disability facts point out.

14. Almost one million people in the United States have multiple sclerosis.

(National MS Society)

According to multiple sclerosis disability statistics, nearly a million Americans have MS, double that estimated in an earlier study. Experts suggest that an increase in reported cases is due to a better understanding of the disease.

15. More women than men report a disability.

(Cornell University)

Statistics on disability rates reveal that disability affects people of all genders indiscriminately. Nearly 12.5% of men and 12.8% of women have some form of disability—a small gap of 0.3%.

16. Nearly 15.4 million Americans live with a cognitive disability, stats remark.

(ADSC)

Of 40.7 million Americans living with a disability, 15.4 million (37.8%) live with a cognitive disability. The District of Columbia has the highest number of people with cognitive disabilities—30.3%, while the lowest number has been recorded in Maine—11.8%.

17. Chronic conditions associated with disability are most prevalent in the Mid-South. 

(American Action Forum)

According to stats on disability, the prevalence of chronic conditions associated with a disability (arthritis, cardiovascular issues, hypertension, etc.) is the highest in the South. Experts also predict that chronic disease will worsen significantly across all age groups.

18. The prevalence of cognitive disability is the highest among middle-aged people—11.9%.

(CDC)

CDC disability statistics affirm that young adults (18–44 years) and middle-aged adults (45–64 years) have the highest prevalence of cognitive disability—10.6% and 11.9%, respectively. That said, prevalences of any disability, independent living, mobility, and hearing disabilities are much higher among older adults aged 65 and over.

19. Tennessee includes people aged 18–74 who are unable to live independently in Phase 1a. 

(KFF)

With the disability rate by state varying significantly, some states include people with disabilities in Phase 1a while others do so in Phase 1c. Read on to find out more.

Oregon is yet another state that prioritizes people with disabilities in its COVID-19 vaccination plan. Namely, people with disabilities who receive services in their homes are included in Phase 1a, given the same priority as health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Maryland and Ohio include people with developmental disabilities in Phase 1b. In comparison, Nevada and Washington include people with disabilities in Phase 1c (limited to people with disabilities that prevent them from adopting protective measures in Washington).

Disability Statistics Concerning Education and Employment

Read on to discover how many Americans with disabilities are unemployed and whether they are actively looking for jobs. You will also learn how many students are diagnosed with learning disabilities and why they are more anxious.

20. 2020 marked the increase of the unemployment rates for both persons with and without disabilities.

(BLS)

Disability employment statistics indicate that 17.9% of people with disabilities were employed in 2020, down from 19.3% in 2019. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rates for people with disabilities increased from 2019. Namely, according to the US disability statistics of 2020, the rate increased to 12.6%. In comparison, the unemployment rate for persons without disabilities rose to 7.9% in 2020.

21. In the US, around 2.3 million students are diagnosed with a learning disability.

(NCES)

Of people receiving special education services in 2018–2019, 33% had specific learning disabilities. What’s more, learning disability statistics revealed that around 19% had speech or language impairment, and 15% had other health impairments.

22. Around 7.4% of all unemployed Americans with disabilities were actively looking for work in 2017.

(Cornell University)

At the same time, disability statistics reveal that the employment rate of people with disabilities aged 21–64 was 37.3%. What’s more, around 23.9% of working-age people with disabilities worked full-time for the whole year in 2017.

23. Students receiving special education services are more anxious.

(Assets)

Disability statistics point out that, compared with students without learning disabilities, students with them report greater anxiety, stress, and fear. It has been found that students are most stressed about exams, perceived importance of writing, math skills, and reading, etc.

24. In the US, people with a hearing disability have the highest employment rate.

(Statista)

Namely, the employment rate among people with hearing disabilities is 52%. In comparison, people with vision disabilities have a 44% employment rate, while it is 26% for people with cognitive disabilities.

Disability Discrimination Statistics and Facts

Read on to learn about discrimination Americans with disabilities face. The section below will also reveal how the US law protects people with disabilities. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

25. As many as 25.9% of Americans with disabilities live in poverty.

(Statista)

According to disability statistics from 2019, over a quarter of people with disabilities live below the poverty line. Namely, 25.9% of people with disabilities lived in poverty, compared with 11.4% of people without disabilities.

26. An employer has to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability.

(EEOC)

Disability facts point out that US law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to a job applicant or an employee with a disability. Otherwise, it will be considered a form of disability discrimination, and the employer will incur significant expenses and other difficulties.

27. In New Zealand, 30% of children with disabilities are denied enrollment at their local schools.

(IHC)

Those who do get enrolled lack support in the classroom and face bullying, children disability statistics remark. Parents claim that their children with disabilities are unable to attend school full-time because of an overwhelming lack of school resources and teacher aide hours.

28. 33.9% of autistic students are bullied, disability bullying statistics disclose.

(Pacer)

Roughly a third of all students with emotional and behavioral disorders and autistic students are bullied at school. That also includes almost a fifth of all children who have learning disabilities. Researchers have also discovered that students with disabilities worry more about school safety, being harassed or injured than students without disabilities. Following that, many students might look into online therapy sites or look for additional support elsewhere.

Disability Facts and Statistics on Social Benefits

Here, you will find out about the benefits, annual earnings, Social Security Disability Insurance, and health insurance coverage among people with disabilities.

29. In the US, people with hearing disabilities have the highest annual earnings—$48,500.

(Cornell University)

Disability facts suggest that annual income varies among people with disabilities. According to Cornell University, of all people with disabilities, those with hearing disabilities have the highest average yearly income. On average, they make $48,500 a year. In comparison, the annual earnings of people with cognitive disabilities stand at $35,400, on average.

30. Social Security Disability statistics show that $145 billion is spent on SSDI annual benefits.

(CBPP)

That makes up almost 4% of the federal budget. Notably, projections made before the pandemic had estimated that the SSDI trust fund would have to be restocked by 2065.

31. In the US, over 90% of working-age people with disabilities have health insurance.

(Cornell University)

In comparison, 87.6% of working-age people without disabilities are insured. Another finding of Cornell University suggests that people with vision disabilities have the lowest rate of coverage—87.5%, while the highest is marked in people with self-care disabilities—93.2%.

32. Rhode Island reports the highest number of people with a disability receiving SSD.

(Disability Statistics)

Social Security Disability statistics by state remark that Rhode Island (29.4%), Massachusetts (24.7%), Vermont (23.5%), and Maine (23.5%) have the highest numbers of people receiving disability benefits. The lowest rates were found in Utah (13.5%), Colorado (13.2%), and Montana (12.6%).

33. 7.1 million American students receive special education services.

(NCES)

Children with disabilities statistics point to the approximate number of students receiving special education services under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. In a nutshell, these services aim to adapt educatinl programs to these students’ needs and requirements.

34. 1.3 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that makes you eligible for SSD benefits.

(DEF)

Rheumatoid arthritis disability statistics break the news that over one million Americans live with this disease. Note that if you have rheumatoid arthritis and it affects your ability to work, you are eligible for SSD benefits.

35. PTSD disability rates show veterans can get a 50% PTSD disability rating.

(Military Benefits)

Even though there isn’t an automatic rating for any condition nor an automatic disability rating applying to all veterans, it is possible to get a 50% PTSD disability rating.

That rating means that the veteran might experience a considerable productivity reduction at work due to speech difficulty, panic attacks, memory problems, or difficulty understanding complicated commands.

Conclusion

People with disabilities are often left unheard and unseen. While learning about disability rates is important, we urge allies reading this stats page to amplify the voices of people with disabilities, make sure they are heard and included. Finally, educate those without disabilities about the topic at hand by engaging in much-needed conversations about inclusivity and accessibility.

FAQs

How common is disability?

Around 13.2% of Americans have some form of disability, the most common being ambulatory disability. Generally, disability is much more prevalent in older people aged 65 and over, who account for 41.4% of all people with disabilities in the US.

Coincidentally, this is the age group that is more likely to experience falls. That is why our team suggests that you look into the best medical alert systems to ensure prompt access to emergency services.

What is the number one disability in the world?

Depression is considered the leading cause of disability, and it is one of the main contributors to the global burden of disease. Moreover, it is a common mental disorder, with over 264 million people of all ages living with it.

What percentage of the population has a disability?

About 15% of the world’s population, or a billion people, are living with some form of disability. Be that as it may, many people with disabilities lack economic and social opportunities. The reason is the lack of government services, proper physical environment, technologies, and assistive devices.

Which country has the highest rate of disability?

Not only is China the third-largest country in the world, but it is also the home to most people with disabilities. To be more precise, there are around 83 million people with disabilities in China, with one million in Beijing alone.

What is the leading cause of disability in the US?

One of the most common causes of disability is a mental disorder, with 43.6 million US adults suffering from some form of it every year. To be more precise, in the US, neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability, with 18.7% of all years of life lost to disability and premature mortality.

How many people are hearing impaired in the US?

The third most common physical condition affecting people of all ages is hearing loss. In the US, about 16% of adults report trouble hearing. In other words, one in five men and one in eight women have some trouble hearing. Notably, West Virginia has the highest rates of hearing loss, while New Jersey records the lowest.

What percent of people with disabilities are unemployed?

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 12.6%. Disability statistics of 2020 note that 29% of workers with a disability were employed only part-time, compared with 16% of people without a disability.

How many hours can I work on disability?

While the Social Security Administration looks into your work hours, it’s not what determines whether you get disability benefits or not. Namely, how much money you make per month is more important, as is whether your work constitutes “substantial gainful activity.” You can essentially do around 10 hours per week or up to 45 hours per month and still be eligible.

How much does disability pay?

The average benefits are about $1,236 per month, and 90% of beneficiaries receive no more than $2,000. Notably, most beneficiaries (particularly unmarried ones) rely on SSDI for most of their income, disability statistics reveal.

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