1 in 4 Adults in the U.S. Has a Disability, CDC Reports


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that one in four Americans has a disability, according to data collected in 2016. Previously, the CDC had reported the number as one in five.

The prevalence of disability increased in this report because hearing disabilities were included, which hadn’t been in previous reports. It’s important to also note that not everyone in the Deaf or hard-of-hearing communities identify as disabled. The CDC did not find any significant changes in reported numbers for the other disability categories.

The CDC’s report is used to gather sociodemographic information and disparities in health care between disability type and age groups. Participants across the U.S. were randomly called and answered six questions about the disability types — vision, hearing, mobility, cognitive, self-care and independent living.

For adults ages 44 and younger, cognitive disabilities were the most common. “Cognitive disabilities” includes a difficulty to concentrate, remember or make decisions due to a physical, mental or emotional condition. For all other adults, mobility disabilities were the most common.

Along with mobility and cognitive disabilities, the CDC reported findings for hearing and vision disabilities, as well as a person’s ability to live independently and take care of oneself.

As age increased for those with a disability, people were more likely to have health insurance coverage, access to a health care provider and a yearly check-up. Older adults were less likely to forgo medical help for an issue because of cost.

Of those surveyed with disabilities, 31 percent of adults between 18 and 44 had an unmet medical need because of cost, whereas 8 percent of adults 65 and older had an unmet medical need. Older adults were more likely to have access to health insurance because of Medicare.

Disability was more prevalent among women, except in hearing and self-care. People living below the poverty line were more likely to have a disability. Of those under the poverty line, adults between 45 and 65 were five times more likely to have a mobility disability compared to those above the poverty line. Disability was also more common across the South. The CDC reported that leading causes of disabilities, such as arthritis and heart issues as well as associated lifestyle influences like smoking and obesity, are more prevalent in the South.

“At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has one,” Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a press release. “Learning more about people with disabilities in the United States can help us better understand and meet their health needs.”

Related: CDC Finds Prevalence Rate for Autism Higher Than Previously Reported

Photo via Getty Images/Zinkevych


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