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Chartbook on Disability in the U.S.

Section 1: Prevalence of Disabilities

1.1. How many people have a disability?

An estimated 19.4% of noninstitutionalized civilians in the United States, totaling 48.9 million people, have a disability. Almost half of these people (an estimated 24.1 million people ) can be considered to have a severe disability.

Almost one in five people has a disability

Figure 1.1.1

Source: McNeil, 1993

Survey: NHIS, 1992

An estimated 15.0% or 37.7 million noninstitutionalized United States residents have an activity limitation. Of these, 11.5 million people are unable to perform their major activity, 14.3 million people are limited in the kind or amount of major activity they can perform, and 11.9 million are limited in activities other than their major activity.

Activities considered to be major are:

  • children under age 5: playing;
  • persons 5-17: attending school;
  • persons 18-69: working or keeping house;
  • people age 70 and over: ability to care for oneself (bathing, eating, dressing, or getting around the home) and one's home (doing household chores, doing necessary business, shopping, or getting around for other purposes) without another person's assistance.

Almost one out of every seven people has an activity limitation.

Figure 1.1.2

Source: LaPlante, 1995

Survey: NHIS, 1992

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