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Almost 20 Percent of Americans Have a Disability

Fifty-four million Americans live with some sort of disability, according to the most recent survey — that's one in five Americans, or the combined populations of California and Florida. Some other enlightening facts from the survey results include:

  • 46 percents of adults with disabilities are employed (compared to 84 percent of non-disabled).
  • 3.3 million people in America use a wheelchair.
  • On average, people with severe disabilities earn $1,458 a month, compared to $2,539 without disabilities.
  • 13 percent of children between the ages of 6-14 have a disability, which typically involves difficulty doing regular schoolwork.

More Americans have disabilities since the last survey in 2002, which found that 51.2 million (18 percent) Americans were disabled. Since the designation of "disability" can include a whole range of limits, it makes sense that a good amount of Americans live with some form of a disability. Still, do you find the survey results surprising? Do you know someone living with a disability?


Join The Conversation
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
"I don't think it's simply 'so, are you disabled?' 'yep, I'm not able to reach my beer' 'oh, poor you'." :rotfl:
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I understand that they haven't come out and said there is some sort of discrimination, but when you post a comparison like that, it sort of screams of something amiss. I was just trying to head off the "Why aren't they paid the same" argument early. :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I see what you are saying UNDAVE, and I agree they shouldnt be paid the same.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Dave, the post says disabled people make less. It's not saying we should correct that or that it's not fair, just that this is how it is. I don't think anything above implies that employers are discriminating or anything.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm only using their salaries as a comparison. I reserve my opinion on their shortsidedness for a different thread... ;)
krae85 krae85 8 years
Thanks, kranky, that makes sense. Undave, I'd say the statistics make sense then. The disabled average is lower to factor in persons who are unable due to mental disability to achieve higher paid jobs, but those with other disabilities raise the average to something closer to what the average non-disabled American is paid.
stephley stephley 8 years
Geez, considering Wall Street and the auto industry today, I'm not sure CEO's are the measure you want to use.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm saying that people with disabilities includes those who have mental disabilities. Having worked with people with mental disabilities (as a manager at a McDonald's), I know they weren't paid a whole lot, but they also couldn't do a whole lot. When you add these people to the spectrum, and then also add the "normal" people who are very successful, you get a skewed comparison. I'm not saying that anyone shouldn't be paid equally for the work they do, I'm just saying that mentally handicapped people can't do the same work a CEO can, and therefore the comparison isn't a good one.
kranky kranky 8 years
krae- At least for government positions, there is targeted employment, much like vet status, you could get preference if all other factors are equal. Additionally, performance is evaluated on a different scale for people with disabilities. If you claim to have SAD or clinical depression, they you get PTO for days you just can't make it in, docotor's appointments, etc... I'm not saying these are great reasons, but if peole can work a system, they will. As for race - again, in some instances you may get preference if you are a protected class IF ALL OTHER FACTORS ARE EQUAL (that's important, it is actually against the law to hire based on race or sex if the candidate is less qualified).
stephley stephley 8 years
If you click on the link and then click on the actual study there is an explanation, but it's kind of long. Generally, there was a questionnaire asking a bunch of questions about whether you use a wheelchair or anything like that, are you blind, are you able to complete tasks without assistance - if the person answered yes, more follow-up questioning was done. I don't think it's simply 'so, are you disabled?' 'yep, I'm not able to reach my beer' 'oh, poor you'.
krae85 krae85 8 years
undave, I'm not sure what your point is.. you think people with disabilities SHOULD be paid less than those without? Remember there are many kinds of disabilities outside of mental disability.
krae85 krae85 8 years
But why would someone claim to have a disability when they don't? or claim to be a race other than their own? I don't understand that.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"On average, people with severe disabilities earn $1,458 a month, compared to $2,539 without disabilities." Is anyone else bothered by this comparison? Should people with mental disabilities be making as much as a person without disabilities? It just seems odd that this would be included, since a mentally handicapped person isn't ever going to be in a position to run a company, and make a large amount of money, which would bring the average up.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Yeah, I was thinking that as well.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
I'm really interested to know what the constitutes a disability according to this survey.
stephley stephley 8 years
I have M.D. - serious enough to cause chronic pain, not serious enough to change my life for it.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
My left-handedness can be a disability sometimes. Do you know how hard it is to write on a clipboard with my hand-claw?
kranky kranky 8 years
Actually TS, you;ve made a good point and I should go home sick from work today as i am clearly not up to task (I blame it on my intake of sugar from holiday sweets). I should have said "self-IDENTIFYING." I work with this stuff all the time, so I have NO excuse for using the wrong word. Sorry!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
You know what assume means? ahahahah you thought i was going to go through that old chestnut.....which is assuming again. what was i saying?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Gotcha. That's what I understand that term to mean, but in context I thought you might have been saying people choose to have depression or something, like it's all in their heads and they are just being pansies. I will retract my claws. : )
kranky kranky 8 years
TS- Sure! "Self-selected" for disabilities means the same thing as for race: ie: job applicants can claim whatever they please about their disabilites or race. Therefore, a person can claim a disability without having a doctor bless it. (Same goes for race, I am whiter than white, but could put "american indian" or "affrican american" on a job application, and it can't be changed or questioned.)
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
I am totally deaf in one ear and 25% deaf in the other. I pride myself on the fact that most people I come into contact with never know. I've spent years working on reading lips. I just can't stand mumblers who barely move their mouth or people who put their hands over their mouth. And that is surprisingly common.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
it was a rhetorical question.
tiabia tiabia 8 years
Oh, God, as many times as needed on a post about "Disablity"/"Disabilities"/"Disabled"
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Could you explain more about what you mean by "self-selected"?
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