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Chartbook on Work and Disability

Section 1: Prevalence of Disability Among Working-age People

1.3. How many people have a work limitation?

According to the National Health Interview Survey, 16.2 million working-age people have a work limitation (10.5% of the population, 18-64 years of age).

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) measures the relationship between disability and work in a way that differs from the SIPP definition, and therefore yields different estimates of the numbers of working age people who are disabled. The traditional measure of disability employed by the NHIS is based on questions about limitations in one's major activity due to a chronic health condition. For people 18 to 64 years of age, the major activity is defined as working at a job or business. Although the NHIS does also ask questions about limitations in other activities, such as activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, and needs for personal assistance needs, the questions about limitations in working at a job or business are most directly relevant to the topics of this publication, work and disability.

Over ten percent of working-age people report work limitation.

Circle graph showing percentage of working-age people reporting work limitations.

Figure 3: Work limitation status of working-age people, 18-64 years

Source: LaPlante & Carlson (1996), Disability Statistics Report 7, Table 2, p. 66.

Surveys: NHIS, 1992.

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