Jump over navigation to content
Disability Data home page
Mental Health (Control or Alt M)
Women and Disability (Control or Alt W)
Work and Disability (Control or Alt K)
Contents (Control or Alt C)
Introduction (Control or Alt I)
Appendices (Control or Alt A)
Credits (Control or Alt R)
Download PDF (Control or Alt P)

Accessibility (Control or Alt E)
Organizations (Control or Alt O)

Access to Disability Data

Printer-friendly page

Chartbook on Disability in the U.S.

Section 1: Prevalence of Disabilities

1.2. How many people are severely limited in physical functions?

Of all noninstitutionalized persons age 15 and over in the United States, 17.5% have a functional limitation (34.2 million people).

Many people have more than one limitation. For 17.5 million, it is going up a flight of stairs without resting; for 17.3 million people the limitation is in walking a quarter of a mile; for 16.2 million it is lifting or carrying something as heavy as a bag of groceries; for 10.9 million, it is hearing what is said in normal conversation; for 9.7 million, it is seeing words or letters in ordinary newsprint, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses; for 7.8 million, it is getting around outside the home; for 5.3 million, it is getting into and out of bed; for 3.7 million, it is getting around inside the home; and for 2.3 million, it is having one's own speech understood.

People have a physically severe functional limitation if they are unable to perform a physical function or if they need the help of another person to perform the function. An estimated 7.8% of those age 15 and older (15.2 million people) are severely limited in the functions of seeing, hearing, having speech understood, lifting or carrying, walking, or using stairs.

A quarter of the population over 15 years old has some functional limitation, and nearly one-third of them has a severe limitation.

Figure 1.2

Source: McNeil, 1993

Survey: NHIS, 1992

Skip to main navigation
Previous chart Back to section summary Next chart