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Chartbook on Disability in the U.S.

Section 5: Work and Disabilities

5.7. How many people are limited or unable to work because of a health condition?

For people between 18 and 69 years of age, work is considered to be the major activity. Measuring work limitations due to a chronic health condition, an estimated 10.9 million of these people are unable to work (6.6%), while another 8.1 million are limited in amount or kind of work activity (5.0%). For females, 6.6% are unable to work while an additional 4.8% are limited, compared to 6.7% of males unable to work and 5.1% who are limited.

As age increases, so does the impact of chronic conditions on ability to work. Only 1.9% of 18-24 year olds are unable to work, but the rate rises to 18.6% for 65-69 year olds. Similarly, 2.6% of 18-24 year olds are limited in amount or kind of work activity which rises to 10.0% for 65-69 year olds.

Technical Note: These data are from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), while the previous pages on work disability are from the March supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). As noted earlier, the two surveys have different definitions of work and disability (see glossary under work limitation and work disability).

Asians and Pacific Islanders report the fewest limitations in work activity.

Figure 5.7

Source: LaPlante, 1995

Survey: NHIS 1992

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