This is the first in a four-part series that looks at how disability affects different types of people in America.

These articles go with our in-depth infographic – check it out here, and please feel free to share it.

Disabilities can occur in a person for a variety of reasons. In general, they greatly hinder and impact the quality of life for the people who have them. Demographics, social position, and differences in access to healthcare can all play a role in how likely a person is to develop a disability. These factors can have a large impact on the health and well-being of a person.

What Are The Different Types of Disability?

Right now, about 1 in 4 adults in America have some kind of mental or physical “impairment” that qualifies as a disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that’s about 61 million people.

Map showing that 26%, or about 1 in 4, of Americans live with a disabiloity.

Disabilities are classified by the way they impair, or impact a person’s health. More specifically, how they impair or impact a person’s ability to complete activities without assistance:

Mobility, which involves serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs, is the most common type of disability.

Cognition, which involves serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions, is the second most common type of disability.

Independent living, hearing, and vision impairments each account for about 4.5% to 7% of the impaired population, respectively.

Self-care, the ability to dress or bathe without assistance, is the smallest portion of those with disabilities.

This chart shows the percentage breakdown of the types of disabilities that affect Americans.

What Causes Disabilities?

It is important to note that the causes of disabilities can vary greatly. Any number of factors can be involved. Many disabilities can develop simply due to becoming older or are based on a person’s genetics.

The 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Report revealed that certain groups of people are also more prone to disabilities. Examples include women, adults living in the South of the United States, and adults with lower incomes.

A variety of factors can influence whether or not a person may develop a physical or mental impairment. For instance, lifestyle and career choices of individuals can play a role. Whether or not someone participates in active military service can play a role. High-risk behaviors can, as well. In some instances, accidents, rare diseases, or medical conditions may be the main cause of one’s disability.

How Do Disabilities Affect Americans?

The ways disability can affect a person’s life depends on their exact limitations and the progression of their disability. Some people will require assistance in various aspects of their lives, such as support from loved ones or professional care. Many people will not be able to work in the same capacity as they did before the disability began. Daily activities can be disrupted. Some people might require learning new ways to complete actions that used to be easy for them.

In addition to more routine doctor visits, mental health professionals often recommend specialized therapy or attending support groups for individuals with physical or health-related disabilities, according to the American Psychology Association. All of these changes can create an impact on a person’s quality of life.

Fortunately, disability benefits exist to assist individuals whose daily lives are disrupted by health and work-related concerns. For instance, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to assist with financial burdens. Disability Advocates (like us, here at Citizens Disability) may be able to help you or a loved one apply for these programs.

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 (coming soon!) • Infographic


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About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800) 492-3260.