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Disability Statistics: Statistics Collected by United States Government Agencies

Sources to find statistics related to disability.

Contents of this Page

In statistics collected by US government agencies you can find many topics including demographics, race, Hispanic origin, employment, health and education.

Sources that may be easier to start with

Statistical Abstracts of the United States

Statistical Abstracts of the United States is a summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States from various Census surveys and other federal and private sources of data.  Available online back to 1878.  Before 1995 is in PDFs that are not OCR'ed or in zip files.  After 1995 is OCR'ed but the older of these years are not tagged.

American Fact Finder

American Fact Finder allows you to search data from decennial census, American Community Survey and more.  Here are some specific tables from American Community Survey that you can pull up within American Fact Finder (descriptions of the tables are taken from


Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment status of the civilian population by sex, age, and disability status not seasonally adjusted, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

US Census Bureau Disability Tables

US Census Bureau Disability  The Census Bureau collects data on disability primarily through the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The definitions of disability are not always alike so caution should be taken when making comparisons across surveys. Generally, the SIPP estimates of disability prevalence are broader and encompass a greater number of activities on which disability status is assessed. The ACS has a more narrow definition but is capable of producing estimates for states, counties, and metropolitan areas. Because the ACS has replaced the decennial long-form as the source for small area statistics, there is no disability data in the 2010 Census.

In addition to these recent data sources, the Census Bureau has also produced disability estimates from the 2000 Census, and the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). Other Federal agencies also collect and report disability statistics. Depending on your needs, one survey may be more suitable than another.

The Census is taken every 10 years and includes data for small geographic areas such as counties, cities and blocks.  Census 2000 included 2 questions with a total of six subparts with which to identify people with disabilities. The data on disability status were derived from answers to long-form questionnaire items 16 and 17. The questions were as follows:

  • 16. Does this person have any of the following long-lasting conditions: a. Blindness, Deafness, or severe vision or hearing impairments? b. A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying?
  • 17. Because of a physical, mental or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more, does this person have any difficulty in doing any of the following activities: a. Learning, remembering, or concentrating? b.dressing, bathing or getting around inside the home? c. (ANSWER IF THIS PERSON IS 16 YEARS OLD OR OVER) Going outside the home alone to shop or visit a doctor's office? d. (ANSWER IF THIS PERSON IS 16 YEARS OLD OR OVER) Working at a job or business?

Americans with Disabilities Act Charges

Americans with Disabilities Act charges chart represents the total number of charge receipts filed and resolved under the ADA.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Digging a little further into the data

Disability Data in National Surveys

Disability Data in National Surveys Report written August 2011.  Many existing national surveys collect disability-related information, and some do so in great detail. There is substantial variation across surveys in terms of target populations, the disability measures used, topics covered, frequency, and design. Here, we provide an overview of the 40 national, federally-sponsored surveys we reviewed for this study, focusing on the disability-related content. A list of the surveys reviewed is shown in Table II.1. A tabular summary of the features of the 40 surveys is presented in Appendix A and more detailed information on each survey is provided in Appendix B.

Census 2010 Group Quarters

Census 2010 Group Quarters Population by Group Quarters Type (Other Census 2010 data will continue to be released.  You can also get Group Quarters Populations by Group Quarters Type and Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age and Sex in American Fact Finder.) Also available in Data-Planet Statistical Datasets.  For example search for PCT 20 Group Quarters by Group Quarters Type. 

The Census 2010 defines group quarters [PDF] as "places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement, which are owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. This is not a typical household-type living arrangement. These services may include custodial or medical care as well as other types of assistance, and residency is commonly restricted to those receiving these services. People living in group quarters are usually not related to each other. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled-nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workers’ dormitories."

The Census 2010 defines other institutional facilities to include the following and more:

  • Mental (psychiatric) hospitals and psychiatric units in other hospitals (code 401)—Mental (psychiatric) hospitals and psychiatric units in other hospitals include psychiatric hospitals, units and floors for long-term non-acute care patients. The primary function of the hospital, unit, or floor is to provide diagnostic and treatment services for long-term non-acute patients who have psychiatric-related illness. All patients are enumerated in this category.
  • Hospitals with patients who have no usual home elsewhere (code 402)—Hospitals with patients who have no usual home elsewhere include hospitals that have any patients who have no exit or disposition plan, or who are known as “boarder patients” or “boarder babies.” All hospitals are eligible for inclusion in this category except psychiatric hospitals, units, wings, or floors operated by federal, state, or local correctional authorities. Patients in hospitals operated by these correctional authorities will be counted in the prison or jail population. Psychiatric units and hospice units in hospitals are also excluded. Only patients with no usual home elsewhere are enumerated in this category.
  • In-patient hospice facilities (both free-standing and units in hospitals) (code 403)—In-patient hospice facilities (both free-standing and units in hospitals) include facilities that provide palliative, comfort, and supportive care for terminally ill patients and their families. Only patients with no usual home elsewhere are tabulated in this category.
  • Military treatment facilities with assigned patients (code 404)—Military treatment facilities with assigned patients include military hospitals and medical centers with active duty patients assigned to the facility. Only these patients are enumerated in this category.
  • Residential schools for people with disabilities (code 405)—Residential schools for people with disabilities include schools that provide the teaching of skills for daily living, education programs, and care for students with disabilities in a live-in environment. Examples of residential schools for people with disabilities are residential schools for the physically or developmentally disabled.

The Census 2010 defines other noninstitutional facilities to include the following and more:

  • Group homes intended for adults (code 801)—Group homes intended for adults are community-based group living arrangements in residential settings that are able to accommodate three or more clients of a service provider. The group home provides room and board and services, including behavioral, psychological, or social programs. Generally, clients are not related to the caregiver or to each other. Group homes do not include residential treatment centers or facilities operated by or for correctional authorities.
  • Residential treatment centers for adults(code 802)—Residential treatment centers for adults provide treatment on-site in a highly structured live-in environment for the treatment of drug/alcohol abuse, mental illness, and emotional/behavioral disorders. They are staffed 24 hours a day. The focus of a residential treatment center is on the treatment program. Residential treatment centers do not include facilities operated by or for correctional authorities.

Current Population Survey

Data on the employment status of persons with disabilities from the Current Population Survey In June 2008, questions were added to the Current Population Survey (CPS) to identify persons with a disability in the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and older. The monthly tables include the numbers and percentages of men and women 16-64 and 65 and over in the civilian non-institutional population, with and without disability, who are employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force.The BLS states that because of the relatively small sample size in most states, BLS does not currently plan to issue sub-national disability estimates.

American Community Survey

American Community Survey (ACS) The ACS is an annual survey of social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics, including disability. It provides information for local geographic areas. The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with an annual sample size of about 3 million addresses.  These are not the 2010 Census population counts. The ACS currently provides 1-year estimates for geographic population areas of 65,000 or more people and 3-year estimates for areas with populations of 20,000 or more (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008c). In 2006 data collection began in group quarters, including institutions such as correctional facilities and nursing homes as well as group living situations such as college dormitories and group homes (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008c)." The American FactFinder includes data from the ACS as well as other Census surveys.  There is also an ACS home page. 

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

NAICS The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. 

  • NAICS Health Care and Social Assistance Sector  The Health Care and Social Assistance sector comprises establishments providing health care and social assistance for individuals. The sector includes both health care and social assistance because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the boundaries of these two activities. The industries in this sector are arranged on a continuum starting with those establishments providing medical care exclusively, continuing with those providing health care and social assistance, and finally finishing with those providing only social assistance. The services provided by establishments in this sector are delivered by trained professionals. All industries in the sector share this commonality of process, namely, labor inputs of health practitioners or social workers with the requisite expertise. Many of the industries in the sector are defined based on the educational degree held by the practitioners included in the industry

American Housing Survey

Report on on Disability Variables in the American Housing Survey

  • American Housing Survey The 2011 AHS collected data on modifications made to assist occupants living with disabilities. The AHS is sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. The AHS provides current information on a wide range of housing subjects, including size and composition of the nation’s housing inventory, vacancies, physical condition of housing units, characteristics of occupants, indicators of housing and neighborhood quality, mortgages and other housing costs, persons eligible for and beneficiaries of assisted housing, home values, and characteristics of recent movers.

Survey of Income and Program Participation

SIPP The SIPP is a longitudinal survey conducted over a period of 3 to 5 years. During each interview or “wave”, supplemental questionnaires or “topical modules (TM)” touch on different topics. SIPP data is available by searching Data Ferrett, which has a learning curve.  At some points, SIPP disability questions have covered:

  • limitations in functional activities - seeing, hearing, speaking, lifting, and carrying, using stairs, walking
  • activities of daily living (ADLs) - getting around inside the home, getting in/out of a bed/chair, bathing, dressing, eating, toileting
  • instrumental actvities of daily living (IADLs) - going outside the home, keeping track of money or bills, preparing meals, doing light housework, using the telephone
  • use of wheelchairs, crutches, canes, or walkers
  • presence of conditions related to mental functioning
  • presence of a work disability
  • disability status of children

Also the two following reports offer tables compiled with data from after 2000:

  • Americans with Disabilities 2005 [PDF] (also linked earlier on this page) U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Report. The estimates shown in this report use data collected from June through September 2005 during the fifth interview of the 2004 SIPP panel. Includes "Disability Prevalence by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 2005", "Prevalence of Disability Among Individuals 15 years and Older by Specific Measures of Disability: 2005" (examples: Seeing/Hearing/Speaking, Activities of Daily Living), "Distribution of Selected Characteristics of Individuals 25 Years and Older by Disability Status 2005" (examples: Educational Attainment, Monthly Income), "Prevalence of Disability Among Children Under 15 Years Old by Specific Measures of Disability: 2005", and more.
  • Americans with Disabilities 2002 [PDF] U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Report

Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Panel Study of Income Dynamics The 2003 PSID is a nationally representative sample of over 7,000 families. The PSID began in 1968 with a sample of 4,800 families and re-interviewed these families on an annual basis from 1968-1997. Since then, it has re-interviewed them biennially. Following the same families and individuals since 1968, the PSID collects data on economic, health, and social behavior.  Initially, the PSID identified disability by asking the head of the household whether he, or she when no adult male is present, had a physical or nervous condition that limits his or her ability to work. In 1981 the PSID began asking the head this question with respect to his spouse. Additional questions that provide an opportunity to expand this definition of disability were included in 2003. No other nationally representative survey has captured such detailed information on the same families over such a long time. (This description is from "The SIPP has a history of poor test-retest reliability (McNeil, 2001), with disability measures being answered differently by the same people or their proxies at different times. For example, a majority of persons who report being unable to see the words in a newspaper are later reported as having no visual impairments when interviewed again a year or two later. Or, as the Disability Statistics Center found in an analysis of the 1996 SIPP panel, 40% of children reported as having special education services in one wave are later reported as never having used special education services. The SIPP's lack of reliability has caused most researchers to avoid using this survey." (from


National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D) 1994 only

National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D) 1994 only

National Health Interview Survey

National Health Interview Survey. The survey contains information on multiple aspects of health status, including activity limitations, injuries, health insurance, and access to and utilization of health care. The survey also provides information on household composition, socio-economic status, and family income and assets.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions, risk behaviors, preventive health practices, and health care access primarily related to chronic disease and injury in the United States yearly since 1984. Currently, data are collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.  For many states, the BRFSS is the only available source of timely, accurate data on health-related behaviors.

The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)

The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), which began in 1996, is a set of large-scale surveys of families and individuals, their medical providers (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.), and employers across the United States. MEPS collects data on the specific health services that Americans use, how frequently they use them, the cost of these services, and how they are paid for, as well as data on the cost, scope, and breadth of health insurance held by and available to U.S. workers.  During the household interviews, MEPS collects detailed information for each person in the household on the following: demographic characteristics, health conditions, health status, use of medical services, charges and source of payments, access to care, satisfaction with care, health insurance coverage, income, and employment.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations.Disability and Health Data System

Disability and Health Data System was created by the CDC "to help states identify and compare health disparities for people with disabilities." Provides customizable views of disability and health data through interactive maps, comparison maps, bar charts, trend lines and tables. Uses Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 2004-2010.

Medicaid and Medicare Statistics and Data

Medicaid and Medicare Statistics and Data