2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium


Overview. Statistics are a powerful tool - in research, policymaking, program evaluation, and advocacy. They are used to frame issues, monitor current circumstances and progress, judge the effectiveness of policies and programs, make projections about the future, and predict the costs of potential policy changes.

In the United States, disability statistics – information about the population with disabilities and about the government programs that serve people with disabilities - are often difficult to find. Numerous government agencies generate and publish disability statistics, and as a result, the data are scattered across various federal government documents and websites.

The Annual Disability Statistics Compendium and its complement, the Annual Disability Statistics Supplement, are summaries of statistics about people with disabilities and about the government programs which serve them. The Compendium, available both in hard copy and online (at www.disabilitycompendium.org) presents key overall statistics on topics including the prevalence of disability, employment among persons with disabilities, rates of participation in disability income and social insurance programs, and other statistics. The Annual Disability Statistics Supplement, only available online (also at www.disabilitycompendium.org), presents tables with over 150 additional categorizations of data for each section highlighted in the Compendium.

Notes on the data. The Compendium is a compilation of data from multiple sources, such as the Social Security Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and frequently, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, among others. Many of these get updated annually, however some of them have not received an update in recent years. These include selected data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on the State Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients (last updated in 2011), SSA’s Social Security disability program (last updated in 2019), and the data from the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (last updated in 2016). We used the most recent data wherever available.

It is also of note that in many cases disability data is broken out into 6 main types (cognitive, ambulatory, hearing, vision, self-care, and independent living), and does not necessarily allow for more fine-grained analysis. For instance, cognitive disability is a category, but this does not tell one the specific type of cognitive disability, such as whether it is related to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or an Intellectual/Developmental Disorder (IDD).

Exploring other topics. The UNH Institute on Disability is dedicated to thorough research and has explored topics such as understanding the factors associated with the health disparities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities through the Health Disparities Project (https://www.iod.unh.edu/projects/health-disparities-project) and career self-management through job crafting for people with physical and mild cognitive disabilities (https://www.iod.unh.edu/projects/career-self-management-through-job-crafting-people-physical-and-mild-cognitive-disabilities). You can find several of these resources at https://www.iod.unh.edu/information-resources.

You can also find statistics and trends on employment, unemployment, and labor force participation for Americans with Disabilities here at the Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation and Research Training Center (EPM-RRTC) website - https://researchondisability.org/epm-rrtc/resources.

New this year. Though the 2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium does not include any new sections, it has incorporated a few changes.  

  • The source of all statistics previously reported from the American Community Survey 1-year estimates has changed to the American Community Survey public use microdata sample.
  • Most statistics based on the American Community Survey public use microdata sample are reported for the age group 18-64 years. 

The above-mentioned changes have made the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium more consistent across all tables, however, there may be minor differences between the estimates reported in the past years and the estimates reported this year.

Additional Resources. A companion Annual Report is available, providing graphical representations of key findings. The Annual Report highlights trend data related to specific tables in the Compendium and Supplement. The statistics presented here, as well as those in the Supplement and Annual Report, can be viewed and downloaded at https://www.disabilitycompendium.org.

Help navigating any of the resources described here can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section at https://www.DisabilityCompendium.org/faq. Assistance interpreting and locating additional statistics is available via our toll-free number, 866-538-9521, or by email at disability.statistics@unh.edu. For more information about our research projects, please visit https://www.researchondisability.org

Suggested Citation. Paul, S., Rafal, M.C., & Houtenville, A.J. (2020). Annual Disability Statistics Compendium: 2020. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability.