A disability is a mental, physical, developmental, or cognitive condition that limits or impairs a person’s ability to carry out tasks and engage in daily activities and interactions. Disability statistics report that a significant portion of the world’s population suffers from one disability or another.
There are several forms of disabilities, depending on what part or function of the body is affected. These can include, but are not limited to, an impairment in any of the following—vision, movement, hearing, learning, communicating, etc.
In this article, you will be acquainted with the most important and relevant statistics and facts about disabilities in the populace. Let’s get started.
Top 10 Disability Statistics and Facts
- More than one billion people worldwide are disabled.
- Women have a higher prevalence of disabilities than men.
- 80%–90% of disabled people of working age in developing countries are unemployed.
- 37.8% of disabled persons in the United States are employed.
- More males with disabilities are employed than females in the UK.
- In 2019, there were 9,765,096 people receiving social security disability benefits in the United States.
- Social Security benefits are only paid to people who are totally disabled.
- Adults with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to be violently attacked.
- Girls and young women with disabilities are at the most significant risk of sexual violence.
- Since 2009, an average of 66% of people with disabilities have been denied social security disability insurance.
General Disability Facts and Statistics
1. More than one billion people worldwide are disabled.
Statistics reveal that about 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability.
Likewise, about one-fifth of these disabled individuals, which is between an estimated 110 million to 190 million people, suffer from severe disabilities that can majorly impact their day-to-day activities. In most cases, this leads to them needing some kind of specialized healthcare.
2. Disabled adults are three times more prone to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than non-disabled adults.
But according to CDC disability statistics, people with disabilities do not get as much education on these issues, partly because they aren’t included in activities such as annual health exams or screening programs that could help them develop better health-seeking behavior.
3. December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
This yearly observance of this occasion for people with disabilities started in 1992. This is done annually to help create awareness of issues faced by disabled people worldwide, to let them know that they are loved, and to support their integration into the different spheres of life.
4. Women have a higher prevalence of disabilities than men.
According to recent disability facts, women are at a disadvantage in all age groups and tend to acquire more disabilities due to lower levels of education and financial status. This was reported in the WHO SAGE study (Study on global AGEing and adult health) on sample populations from six countries—China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russian Federation, and South Africa.
5. Between 93 million and 150 million children live with a disability worldwide.
Child disability occurs at an alarming rate and affects marginalized children who live in rural or developing communities and countries the most. According to children with disability statistics, estimated one-in-three children who don’t attend school deal with one disability or the other.
6. Almost everyone will experience some form of disability at some point in life.
Depending on the severity, disabilities can either be major or minor and temporary or permanent.
Moreover, disability can be acquired at almost any time. It can be during birth, through an illness or accident, or even in old age.
Disability Employment Statistics and Facts
7. The unemployment rate for disabled people of working age is twice that of those with no disability in most developed countries.
People with disabilities are two to three times less likely to be employed than non-disabled individuals. However, this isn’t necessarily a sign of some kind of discrimination, as there are fewer jobs they are capable of performing optimally, giving the non-disabled population an edge over them in the job market.
8. 80%–90% of disabled people of working age in developing countries are unemployed.
Disability discrimination statistics show that an abnormally high percentage of disabled people cannot obtain employment in developing countries, often due to the discrimination and stigma they are faced with.
In South Africa, for example, employers believe that employing people with disabilities would be a source of problems in the workplace. They also feel they would have to incur additional financial costs to make their workplaces disability-friendly.
9. Worldwide, women with disabilities have a 19.6% employment rate.
World Health Organization survey analysis results for 51 countries projected employment rates of 52.8% for disabled men and 19.6% for disabled women globally. These disability statistics worldwide are so low for women with disabilities due to the discrimination in predominantly developing countries, almost from birth.
More often than not, they are cut off from publicly provided healthcare, education, and social services.
10. 37.8% of disabled persons in the United States are employed.
(Cornell University Disability Statistics)
According to statistics on disability and employment in the United States, research done by Cornell University in 2018 showed that 7,316,900 out of 19,338,800 (37.8%) disabled people in the country from ages 21 to 64 were employed.
This is a 0.5% increase the year before, when employment rates were at 37.3%.
11. People with hearing impairment have the highest employment rates when it comes to people with disabilities in America.
Disability statistics from 2018 show that out of 3,890,495 individuals with hearing disabilities aged 18 to 64 years, 2,077,119 were employed, which comes down to 53.4%.
What’s more, this annual report on disability also claims that after the people with hearing disabilities, individuals with vision disabilities had the second-highest employment rate, with 44.9% being employed.
12. Nearly one in ten veterans with disabilities are not employed.
About 29.6% of 12 million veterans aged 21 to 64 are said to have a disability. In addition, over three-quarters of veterans without disabilities are employed.
13. The National Disability Employment Awareness Month is celebrated every October.
(United States Census Bureau)
This is a vital campaign, meant to raise awareness about the employment issues people with disabilities face while sharing necessary disability awareness facts and information, and celebrating workers with disabilities.
14. The healthcare and social assistance industry employs the most people with disabilities in the United States.
In 2018, the healthcare and social assistance industry employed 1,318,248 disabled people. This amounts to 14.5% of the total number of disabled people in the US.
15. 12.5% of all employed disabled people are working in an office or administrative support position.
The 2018 disability statistics annual report shows that most disabled people operate in office or administrative positions because the requirements are not so demanding. This grants them a workspace in which they can perform optimally.
The next most common occupation for people with disabilities is sales, with 10.1%.
16. There is a higher percentage of employed disabled males than females in the UK.
(ONS, Cornell University Disability Statistics)
In 2018, 51.8% of disabled men were employed in the UK, while 50.8% of disabled women were employed, and this has been a consistent trend since 2013. When it comes to disability statistics for the US, in 2018, 40% of disabled men were employed, while only 35.7% of disabled women had a job, also following a consistent trend since 2012.
17. People with disabilities have higher rates of self-employment than people without disabilities.
(Disabled World, ONS)
A lot of disabled people have been successful as small business owners. In 1990, 12.2% of people with disabilities were self-employed in the US, compared to 7.8% of people without disabilities.
In the UK in 2019, 20.6% of working disabled men were self-employed, compared to 17.5% of working non-disabled men.
18. Most people with learning disabilities who are employed work part-time.
(FP, NHS, Mental health)
Learning disability statistics for 2016 show that 1 in every 218 people was recorded as having a learning disability.
Studies in England report that about 11% of people with learning disabilities are employed, and most are on a part-time basis because there is limited availability of full-time jobs for them.
19. Only about 100,000 out of 70 million disabled people in India are employed industrially.
(Disabled World, NCPEDP)
As demonstrated by disability stats, about 5% to 15% of the population in India is disabled, yet the average employment rate of people with disabilities is 0.28% in the private sector and 0.54% in the public sector.
The data from the census and WHO reports claims that about 87% of people with disabilities in India work in the informal sector.
20. In the United States, 34% of people with intellectual disabilities are employed.
(PR Newswire, WebMD)
Intellectual disability is characterized by below-average intelligence and a slow rate of learning new things.
Intellectual disability statistics regarding employment show that only 26% of employed intellectually disabled adults have full-time jobs.
21. About 41.6% of all people who develop rheumatoid arthritis will stop working completely within nine years of symptoms onset.
(Oxford Academic, WebMD)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease that causes both physical and functional disability over time. About 55% of the patients are of working age at symptom onset.
According to recent rheumatoid arthritis disability statistics, employees with rheumatoid arthritis take an average of two to three weeks off from work over a three-month period, while some have to make permanent changes in their work hours or employment status.
Disability Benefits Statistics and Facts
22. In 2019, there were 9,765,096 people receiving social security disability benefits in the United States.
(SSA, APA, SSA)
Social Security Disability benefits are acquired through an insurance program for workers who have become disabled and unable to work.
US disability statistics show that the majority of those receiving these disability benefits were disabled workers (86.1%). Disabled adult children and disabled widow(er)s made up 11.4% and 2.6%, respectively.
This total number dropped from 9,919,094 people in 2018.
23. In 2019, the states with the highest percentage of disability beneficiaries in America were Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
In America, the southern states tend to have a higher portion of residents collecting disability benefits.
Disability statistics by state cite West Virginia as the state with the most people receiving disability benefits at 8.9%, closely followed by Alabama with 8.5%.
24. Disability benefits change to retirement benefits when a disabled worker reaches retirement age.
Retirement age falls between the ages of 65 to 67, depending on the year of birth.
Social security disability benefits are given to individuals who were already working upon meeting the required criteria for acquiring them. The percentage of disabled beneficiaries increases with age. Disability statistics for 2019 show that the largest percentage of disabled beneficiaries were of ages 60–64.
25. Disability benefits are higher for disabled men than they are for women.
Men traditionally have higher earnings than women, and this is represented in the methods by which disability benefits are rationed gender-wise.
26. Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue were the primary reasons disabled adults received disability benefits in 2019.
Musculoskeletal conditions are a leading factor in disability worldwide. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability globally.
Physical disability statistics from 2019 depict musculoskeletal conditions as causing the disability in 33.6% of disabled workers receiving social security disability benefits.
27. The intellectually disabled account for close to 14% of all social security disability beneficiaries.
Intellectual disability predominantly affects disabled adult children. They account for 45.3% of people with intellectual disabilities.
They face a lot of employment challenges and receive disability benefits over a very long time. Intellectual disability facts show that their benefits are relatively low, contributing to a higher rate of poverty amongst this group of disabled people.
28. Social Security benefits are only paid to totally disabled people.
A person is not considered disabled by social security disability definitions if they are able to engage in any substantial gaining activity, or their physical or mental impairment has not lasted at least 12 months.
According to social security disability facts, to be eligible for disability benefits, an individual must have worked long and recently enough under social security.
29. Denied applications for disability benefits can be appealed.
If the initial social security disability application is not accepted, there are options to appeal, which include requesting a reconsideration and a hearing before an administrative law judge, followed by a review by the internal appeal council, and ultimately, an appeal to a federal court.
Disability appeals council statistics indicate that only 13% of the cases reviewed are approved, and if moved up to a federal court, they have a 40% chance of prevailing.
30. 1.6 million people claimed Disability Living Allowances (DLA) in the UK in 2019.
As of August 2019, there was a 110,000 increase in the number of people claiming either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowances (DLA). A total of 3.8 million people claimed PIP and DLA in that year.
Although the number of people claiming DLA fell by 210,000, the number of those receiving PIP increased by 320,000.
Disability Abuse Statistics and Facts
31. 1.3 million violent crimes were perpetrated against people with disabilities in 2012.
(End Abuse PWD)
Even though research on the abuse of people with disabilities is limited in scope and methodology, violent crimes, which include rape and physical assault, have been steadily increasing since 2008.
People with disabilities are one of the most harmed groups in the United States, according to facts about disability abuse.
32. Adults with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to be violently attacked.
Adults with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to violence and often have their needs neglected by their caretakers and even family.
Reports on adults with disabilities from 2012 suggest that those with mental health conditions are at about four times the risk of experiencing violence.
33. Children with disabilities are 3.7 times more likely to be victims of any sort of violence.
Stats on disability show that among children with disabilities, children with mental/intellectual impairments seem to be the most vulnerable. They are at 4.6 times higher risk of sexual violence compared to their non-disabled peers.
Stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability are the major reasons for the increased risk of violence, added to their caretakers’ lack of social support.
34. In Australia, 52% of adults with disabilities over the age of 15 had experienced physical violence.
Of adults with disabilities older than 15, those with a mental illness are most likely to have experienced violence, with 74% of them suffering through at least one incident of the kind, according to mental disability statistics for Australia.
Cognitive disabilities (72%), sensory disabilities (68%), and physical disabilities (66%) are the second, third, and fourth groups of people with disabilities most likely to have experienced violence, respectively.
35. Girls and young women with disabilities are at the most significant risk for sexual violence.
According to a study carried out in Australia, about 62% of disabled women had experienced violence since the age of 15 and also experienced sexual violence at three times the rate for non-disabled women.
A study carried out in Africa reported that nearly all of the young people interviewed had been sexually abused at least once, of which most have been abused more than once.
36. Children who are blind, autistic, deaf, or living with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities are more susceptible to bullying.
(UNFPA, Partner Resource Network )
Children with this set of disabilities are five times more likely to be subjected to abuse than others.
Disability bullying statistics report that they are also two to three times more likely to be bullied compared to their non-disabled peers.
Disability Insurance: Statistics and Facts
37. The Social Security Disability Insurance program requires being employed for at least ten years.
Being covered by Social Security Disability insurance is not a certainty and has strict requirements.
Disability insurance statistics show that an individual is generally required to have earned 40 work credits, 20 in the last ten years of work, ending in the year the person got disabled to be eligible. This also depends on the age of the applicant at the time of the onset of disability.
38. Since 2009, an average of 66% of people with disabilities have been denied social security disability insurance.
The final grant rate of social security disability insurance has averaged about 32% from 2009 till 2018.
The number of applicants awarded the disability benefits of the insurance program on the initial claims level averaged 21% since the same period and ranged from a maximum of 25% to a minimum of 20%.
What percentage of the population has a disability?
About one billion people worldwide or 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability, with the prevalence of disability being significantly higher in developing countries.
Significant disabilities are experienced by about one-fifth of the global estimated total, which is between 110 million and 190 million people. In the US, 61 million adults live with a disability, which is about 26% of the entire general population of America.
How common is disability?
Approximately 1 in 4 adults in America have a disability that affects significant life activities. The commonest type of disability is mobility impairment, and it is experienced by 1 in every 7 adults.
As people get older, disabilities occur more often. For every 5 adults of at least 65 years of age, there are 2 with a disability.
Disability is more prevalent among adults with lower income and women in general. Other common forms of disability include problems with hearing, vision, and self-care.
Which country has the highest rate of disability?
As of 2017, China had the largest population in the world and was estimated to have the highest population of disabled people in the world.
Moreover, 80% of people having disabilities reside in developing countries. Disability rates are significantly higher in countries in the lower educational attainment bracket. On average, disabilities abound in 19% of the less-educated population.
What percent of people with disabilities are unemployed?
Unemployment among disabled people is close to 80% in some countries. This stems from the fact that most employers believe that persons with disabilities are unable to work effectively.
In developing countries, 80%–90% of individuals with disabilities who are capable of working are unemployed. However, this figure takes a dive in developed countries, sitting around 50%–70%.
What’s more, in America, only about 4 out of 10 working age (25–54) adults with disabilities are employed.
What is considered to be a disability?
In legal terms, disability is basically an individual’s incapacity to perform any activity that would earn money because of a physical or mental issue. This incapacity could cause death or carry on for 12 months at least. It should also be measurable via a medical checkup or through laboratory tests.
How much does disability pay?
Monthly benefits for an average disabled worker sit around $1,236. Also, a significant number of beneficiaries (90%) get less than $2,000 monthly.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits amount to 50% of previous earnings for the average beneficiary. A significant number of developed countries spend way more than the US on disability benefits. This may be due to the fact that eligibility rules in the US are rather strict.
Disability is a very common condition affecting a distressingly large number of people. It is generally understood that people with disabilities are a group that experiences more challenging situations than non-disabled people.
As depicted by the disability statistics reported over the past couple of years, an increase in advocacy for disability rights and inclusion of disabled people as regular members of society has encouraged better conditions for disabled people worldwide.
The promulgation of disability benefits, insurance, and awareness, along with the increasing rates of development across the world, provide some hope that the treatment of disabled people and opportunities afforded to them are going to improve in the near future.
- Cornell University Disability Statistics
- Disabled World
- Disabled World
- End Abuse PWD
- Mental Health
- Oxford Academic
- Partners Resource Network
- PR Newswire
- Research Gate
- Their World
- United States Census Bureau