August 2018

CDC: 1 in 4 U.S. Adults Have a Disability

One in 4 U.S. adults — 61 million people — have a disability that impacts major life activities, according to the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on August 16. Mobility is the most common disability type, affecting 1 in 7 adults under age 65 and about 2 in 5 adults age 65 and older.

Using data from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), this is the first CDC report of the percentage of adults across six disability types, listed here from most to least common: mobility disability, cognition independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care.

These data show that disability is more common among women, non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives, adults with lower income, and adults living in the South Census region of the U.S. The report also shows that:

  • The percentage of adults with disability increased as income decreased. In fact, mobility disability is nearly 5 times as common among middle-aged (45- to 64-year old) adults living below the poverty level compared to those whose income is twice the poverty level.
  • It is more common for adults 65 years and older with disabilities to have health insurance coverage, a primary doctor, and receive a routine health checkup during the previous 12 months, compared to middle-aged and younger adults with disabilities.
  • Disability-specific differences in the ability to access healthcare are common, particularly among adults 18- to 44-years old and middle-aged adults. Generally, adults with vision disability report the least access to healthcare, while adults with self-care disability report the most access to care.

“Research showing how many people have a disability and differences in their access to healthcare can guide efforts by healthcare providers and public health practitioners to improve access to care for people with disabilities,” said Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH., director of CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability.

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