2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium

Glossary

4-year college degree — Having attained a bachelor’s degree and no additional professional degrees. People in this category are ages 25 and over.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) — Elected activities from the Katz Activities of Daily Living (ADL), namely difficulty bathing and dressing. Difficulty with these activities of daily living are identified as self-care disability in the American Community Survey. (See self-care disability for more detail). 

Allowance Rate (Initial) — The number of allowances divided by the determinations, expressed as a percentage.

Allowances (Initial) — Fully or partially favorable determinations.

Ambulatory Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who responded “yes” when asked if they had “serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.” Please note that this question is only asked of people 5 years old or over.

American Community Survey (ACS) — The American Community Survey is a large, continuous demographic survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that will provide accurate and up-to-date profiles of America’s communities every year. Annual and multiyear estimates of population and housing data are generated for small areas, including tracts and population subgroups. This information is collected by mailing questionnaires to a sample of addresses. See the U.S. Census Bureau website for additional details.

Base Population — The sum of a population or an estimate used as the root for evaluation purposes. Typically, the last Census count or the estimate from a previous date is used.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) — The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based system of health surveys that collects information on health risk behaviors, preventive health practices, and health care access primarily related to chronic disease and injury. BRFSS was established in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); currently data are collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. More than 400,000 adults are interviewed each year, making the BRFSS the largest telephone health survey in the world. States use BRFSS data to identify emerging health problems, establish and track health objectives, and develop and evaluate public health policies and programs. Many states also use BRFSS data to support health-related legislative efforts. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional details.

Beneficiary (SSA) — An individual who is receiving benefits, or monthly payments, from Social Security Disability Insurance.

Binge Drinking (BRFSS) — Respondents were asked “[c]onsidering all types of alcoholic beverages, how many times during the past 30 days did you have [5, if male respondent] [4, if female respondent] or more drinks on occasion?” Respondents who reported doing so at least one time were considered to have engaged in binge drinking.

Building Type (ACS) — Building types identified in the ACS include houses (detached, one-family houses), apartments, and other (which includes mobile homes or trailers, boats, RVs, vans, etc.).

Civilian — A person not in active-duty military.

Complete kitchen (ACS) — Kitchen facilities are considered complete if they have a stove or range, a refrigerator, and a sink with a faucet. If kitchen facilities are missing one or more of these features, the household is found to be lacking complete a kitchen.

Complete plumbing (ACS) — Plumbing facilities are considered complete if they include hot and cold running water and a bathtub or shower. If the household is missing one or more of these features, the household is found to be lacking complete plumbing.

Cognitive Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who indicated “yes” when asked if due to a physical, mental, or emotional problem, they had difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions. Please note that this question is only asked of people 5 years old or over.

Department of Labor (DOL) — The Department of Labor is a US government department responsible for the assessment and management of wage and hour standards, occupational safety, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services and some economic statistics.

Determination (Initial) — A determination is the finding made by a state agency on the initial claim made in the designated time period. The finding can be favorable, partially favorable, or unfavorable.

Disability Rating — The disability rating scale is used to track the impairment, disability, or handicap of an individual. The severity of the disability corresponds to the value of the rating and is used to determine eligibility for supports and services and ability to work or return to work.

Disability Status (ACS, BRFSS) — The ACS and BRFSS use a set of six questions to identify persons with disabilities. Each question (listed below) has a possible response of either "yes" or "no". A response of “yes” to any one of the questions indicates that the person in question has a disability — vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living. However, the cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living related questions are not used to identify disability in individuals less than five years old, and the independent living related question is not used to identify disability in individuals less than 15 years old.

The six disability questions included in the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) are the following:

  1. Hearing Disability: Is this person deaf or does he/she have serious difficulty hearing?

  2. Vision Disability: Is this person blind or does he/she have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?

  3. Cognitive Disability: [If person 5 years old or over]​ Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

  4. Ambulatory Disability: [If person 5 years old or over]​ Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?

  5. Self-Care Disability: [If person 5 years old or over]​ Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?

  6. Independent Living Disability: [If person 15 years old or over]​Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping​?

Disability Type — See disability status and specific definitions in the glossary (Vision Disability, Hearing Disability, Ambulatory Disability, Cognitive Disability, Independent Living Disability, and Self-Care Disability).

Disabled-Worker (SSA) — A worker not yet at full retirement age receiving insurance payments due to a disability.

Earned/Earnings (ACS) — Regularly received income from salaries/wages, self-employment or both, for people 18-64 years before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc.

Earned Income Tax — Earned income tax is the tax that is applied to the income a person has earned over a designated time period.

Earned Income Tax Credit — The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit for working individuals who earn low to moderate incomes, providing extra benefits for individuals with children.

Earned Income Tax Credit Rate — The percent of the federal EITC amount that that can be claimed on state tax returns.

Earnings Gap — The difference in percentage earned between two populations, usually people with and without disabilities.

Educational Attainment (ACS) — All individuals 18 years or older are classified based on their highest degree or level of education attained. The categories include:

  1. Completed the twelfth grade without receiving a high school diploma.
  2. High school graduate meaning received a diploma or General  Educational Diploma (G.E.D.), and did not attend college.
  3. Some college credit, but less than one year.
  4. One or more years of college, but no degree.
  5. Associate’s degree which includes people who generally completed two years of college level work in an occupational program that prepared them for a specific occupation, or an academic program primarily in the arts and sciences. The course work may or may not be transferable to a bachelor’s degree.
  6. Bachelor’s degree or more which includes individuals who received a bachelor’s degree and have taken additional courses but not received a Master’s or PhD.
  7. Master’s degrees include the traditional MA and MS degrees and field-specific degrees, such as MSW and MBA.
  8. Professional degrees which includes MD, DDS, DVM, LLB, and JD.
  9. Doctorate degrees which include PhD.

Schooling completed in foreign or ungraded school systems is reported as the equivalent level of schooling in the regular American system. Certificates or diplomas for training in specific trades or from vocational, technical, or business schools are not included. Honorary degrees awarded for a respondent’s accomplishments are not included.

Employed/Employed Persons — Individuals 18-64 years who are civilians and are not currently institutionalized and, during the reference week; (a) performed at least one hour of work as a paid employee, worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as an unpaid worker in a business owned by a relative; and (b) all those who had jobs or businesses but are on leave because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, regardless of whether they were compensated for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. Individuals who work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer for religious, charitable, and other organizations are excluded.

Employed/Employed Persons (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, people who responded as having worked during the past week. See employed status for the American Community Survey for greater detail.

Employment/Employment Status (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals were asked a series of questions designed to identify their status. Based on the answers, individuals were classified into one of five groups:

  1. people who worked at any time during the reference week;

  2. people on temporary layoff who were available for work;

  3. people who did not work during the reference week but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding layoff);

  4. people who did not work during the reference week, but who were looking for work during the last four weeks and were available for work during the reference week; and

  5. people not in the labor force.

The employment status data shown in American Community Survey tabulations relate to people of age 18-64 years.

Employment Gap — The difference between the percentage of people employed for two different sub-populations, usually people with and without disabilities.

Employment Participation — Individuals who participated in the labor force. Includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed.

Employment-Population Ratio (ACS) — The proportion of the civilian non-institutional population aged 16 or more years who are employed.

Employment Rate (ACS) — The number of individuals that are employed as a percent of the civilian non-institutional population.

Federal Fiscal Year — The United States federal government's fiscal year is the twelve month period ending on September 30th of that year.

Full-Time, Full-Year (ACS) — A person is considered to be a working full-time, full-year if he or she worked 35 hours or more per week for 50 to 52 weeks in the past 12 months.

Hearing Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who indicated “yes” when asked if they were “deaf or … [had] serious difficulty hearing.” Please note that this question is asked of individuals of all ages.

Health Insurance Coverage (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, health insurance coverage is broadly defined as both private health insurance and public coverage. Respondents are asked to report their current coverage and to mark “yes” or “no” for each of the eight types listed:

  1. Insurance through a current or former employer or union (of this person or another family member).
  2. Insurance purchased directly from an insurance company (by this person or another family member).
  3. Medicare, for people 65 and older, or people with certain disabilities.
  4. Medicaid, Medical Assistance, or any kind of government-assistance plan for those with low incomes or a disability.
  5. TRICARE or other military health care.
  6. VA (including those who have ever used or enrolled for VA health care).
  7. Indian Health Service.
  8. Any other type of health insurance or health coverage plan.

Health Insurance Coverage (BRFSS) — In the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, respondents are considered to have health insurance coverage if they respond ‘yes’ to having, “…any kind of health care coverage, including health insurance, prepaid plans such as HMOs, or government plans such as Medicare, or Indian Health Service?”

Health Insurance Coverage Gap — The difference in percentage points of health insurance coverage between people with and without disabilities.

Housing Cost Burden (ACS) — Residents face a cost burden if they spend more than 30 percent of their household income on housing costs.

Income (ACS) — The sum of all wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, and tips; self-employment income from own nonfarm and farm businesses, including proprietorships and partnerships; interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, and income from estates and trusts; Social Security and Railroad Retirement income; Supplemental Security Income; any public assistance and welfare payments from the state and local welfare office; retirement, survivor, and disability pensions; and any other sources received regularly such as Veterans Affairs payments, unemployment compensation, child support, and alimony.

Income Maintenance Programs — Government programs that provide direct financial assistance to needy individuals, families, and/ or households. Examples include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and general assistance.

Independent Living Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who indicated “yes” when asked if due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they had difficulty “doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.” Please note that this question is asked of individuals ages 15 years old or over.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — A law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

Industry — The type of business conducted by a person’s employing organization.  Examples of industries include automotive, health, mining, and transportation. Industries are categorized based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), published by the Office of Management and Budget. The NAICS is the standard used by North America and United States’ Federal statistical agencies to classify businesses for analyses of the economy.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (ACS) — Elected activities from the Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scales, namely difficulty performing errands such as visiting the doctor's office or going shopping. In the American Community Survey, IADLs are identified through an independent living disability question. (See independent living disability for more information).

Internal Revenue Service — The Internal Revenue Service is the federal tax collection agency and has the responsibility of enforcing tax laws for the United States federal government.

Labor Force — All persons classified as employed or unemployed.

Labor Force Participation Rate — The labor force as a percent of the civilian non-institutional population.

Less than a high school education — Having attained an education through 12th grade without attaining a high school degree or General Equivalency Degree. People in this category are ages 25 and over.

Living in the Community — Describes persons who are residing in the community and who are not living in institutions such as jails, prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.

Margin of Error — A statistic expressing the amount of random sampling error in the results of a survey.

Median Earnings — The median is the middlemost value of a sample that separates the upper half of the values from the lower half of the values. The median earnings is the amount that divides the income distribution in two equal groups. Half of the people earn more than this value and half of the people earn less than this value.

Medicaid — Medicaid is a state-administered, but federally required, program to provide health insurance to certain groups of people. States determine specific eligibility requirements, but in general low income individuals, families, children, and pregnant women are eligible for health care coverage under Medicaid. In some states, other groups (such as people with disabilities) are also eligible.

 

Medicare — Medicare is a Federal program that provides health care services to individuals 65 or older, individuals under age 65 with disabilities, and individuals of all ages with end-stage renal failure. There are three programs within Medicare: Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), and Prescription Drug Coverage (new since January 1, 2006). Individuals pay into Part A throughout their careers, and then Part A covers that individual for hospital care. People who are eligible for Medicare have the opportunity to purchase Part B, or medical insurance that covers them for more than just hospital care.

Metropolitan (Urban) — Counties are classified metropolitan if they contain an urban core of at least 50,000 people or if a significant proportion of the population commutes into an adjacent urban core.

Micropolitan — Micropolitan counties are nonmetropolitan counties that have an urban core of 10,000 to 50,000 people.

Minimum Wage — A minimum wage is the lowest a person can be paid for hourly work in the US, set by the federal government.

Minimum Wage Rate — The minimum wage rate is set by individual US states. This rate must be equal to or above the federal minimum wage.

More than a 4-year college degree — Having attained a master’s, professional, or doctoral degree. People in this category are ages 25 and over.

Noncore — Noncore counties are nonmetropolitan counties with an urban core population of less than 10,000.

Nonmetropolitan (Rural) — Nonmetropolitan counties are rural counties and can be further classified into micropolitan and noncore counties. See micropolitan and noncore definitions for greater detail.

Non-Institutionalized Population — Describes individuals who are residing in the community and who are not living in institutions such as jails, prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.

OASDI Benefits — The Social Security Administration’s Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program provides monthly benefits to qualified retired and disabled workers, their dependents and to survivors of insured workers. Eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the worker’s contributions to Social Security.

Obese/Obesity (BRFSS) — The condition where a person has a body mass index greater than 30.

 

Occupation — The kind of work a person does on the job. Examples of occupations include animal scientists, computer programmers, medical assistants, and telemarketers. Occupations are categorized based on the Standard Occupational (SOC) Manual, published by the Office of Management and Budget. The SOC is the standard used by United State’s Federal statistical agencies to classify work for analyses of the economy.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — Located within the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works to develop the President's budget proposal. The OMB also sets funding priorities and evaluates the effectiveness of programs, policies, and procedures. The definitions of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan (micropolitan and noncore) counties are based on OMB county classifications. See respective glossary entries for greater detail on these terms.

Office of Special Education Programs — Part of the United States Department of Education, the Office of Special Education Programs’ mission is to improve education-related outcomes and experiences of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support at the state and federal level. Their goals include:

  1. “Fostering and supporting research and the development of knowledge and innovations to improve results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities;” and

  2. “Evaluating, monitoring, and reporting on the implementation of federal policy and programs and the effectiveness of early intervention and educational efforts for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.”

Only a high school education — Having attained a high school degree or General Equivalency Degree and no additional education. People in this category are ages 25 and over.

Order of Selection — A state is required by the Federal Government to implement an order of selection when it does not have the funds and/or the personnel to provide services for all eligible individuals with disabilities. This process is detailed under The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 34 CFR 361.36. When this situation occurs, a state must classify eligible individuals according to the significance of their disability(ies), and must serve the most significantly disabled first.

 

Overcrowded (ACS) — A housing unit is considered overcrowded if it has more than two people per bedroom. 

Participation in the labor force — See labor force.

Percentage Point(s) — A number, count or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100.

Persons with Targeted Disability — People with Targeted Disabilities are recognized and defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and United States Office of Personnel Management as “[People with the most severe disabilities including blindness, deafness, partial and full paralysis, missing extremities, dwarfism, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. Individuals with these disabilities typically have the greatest difficulty finding employment. The federal government has a special emphasis on recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with targeted disabilities.”

Prevalence — The proportion of the population with a particular status or condition. Prevalence is usually expressed as a percentage or a number of people per unit of the population.

Prevalence Rate — The prevalence of a particular status or condition estimated over a specific period of time.

Projected Population — Estimates of what the population will be at a future date. The United States Census Bureau definition states that population projections “are typically based on an estimated population consistent with the most recent decennial census and are produced using the cohort-component method.”

Population — The total number of inhabitants in a defined geographic area including all races, classes, and groups.

Poor Housing Quality (ACS)  — A household has poor housing qualtiy if at least two of four possible conditions are met: lacking a complete kitchen, lacking complete plumbing, overcrowding, or cost burden.

Poverty (ACS) — The U.S. Office of Management and Budget in Statistical Policy, Directive 14 sets the standards for which poverty is calculated. The U.S. Census Bureau uses a set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family’s total income is less than the dollar value of the appropriate threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered to be in poverty.

 

Poverty Gap — The difference between the poverty rates of two populations, usually people with and without disabilities.

Poverty Rate (ACS) — Percent of the population who meet the federal definition of poverty, criteria which is determined by income and number of people in the household.

Postsecondary Institutions — In the United States, any education, school, training or program beyond the high school level.

Race (ACS) — Individuals identified themselves as one of six categories in the survey: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Some Other Race. The racial categories included in the census questionnaire reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or sociocultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race. 

Rehabilitation Rate — The number of successful employment outcomes divided by the number of closures after initiating or completing services.

Rehabilitation Services Administration — The Rehabilitation Services Administration is a United States Department of Education agency that helps individuals with disabilities obtain employment and live more independently. Data provided by the Rehabilitation Services Administration can be found in the ‘Ad Hoc Query’ section of their website: http://rsa.ed.gov.

Resident Population — All residents (both civilian and Armed Forces) living in the United States (all 50 states and the District of Columbia).

Sample Size — The number of units (individuals) from which data were collected in a survey or experiment. 

Sampling Variability — The variation of a statistic when estimated from repeated samples.

Seasonally Adjusted Statistics — Statistics that face predictable variation over the course of a year due to seasonal changes (i.e. increases in employment in farming during harvest months) and are adjusted using statistical techniques that attempt to account for these expected seasonal changes.

Self-Care Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who indicated “yes” when asked if they “have difficulty dressing or bathing.” Please note that this question is asked of individuals ages 5 years old or over.

Service-Connected Disability Rating (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, the VA service connected disability rating for an individual who is a veteran. The rating reflects the degree of the veteran’s disability on a scale from 0 to 100 percent, in increments of 10 percent.

Service-Connected Disability Rating Status (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, the designation associated with individuals who were in the Reserves or National Guard, trained with the Reserves or National Guard, or active duty military that have a disability as a result of disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are defined according to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities in Title 38, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4.

Sex (male or female) (ACS) — In 2020, the data sources utilized here only have two categories. As federal data sources with disability measures expand to include new measures of gender identity we will incorporate those in future editions of the Compendium.

Smoking (BRFSS) — Respondents were asked about smoking: “Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your entire life?” and “Do you now smoke cigarettes every day, some days, or not at all?” Respondents who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who, at the time of survey, smoked either every day or some days were defined as current smoker (i.e., smoking).

Social Security Administration (SSA) — The Social Security Administration is an independent agency within the United States federal government managing services supporting people eligible for social security programs. This includes employment-, retirement-, survivor- and disability-related benefits. These benefits are earned by paying Social Security taxes on earnings.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — A monthly benefit paid to disabled workers and certain family members if the worker meets eligibility criteria including evidence of disability and a sufficient work history.

Social Security Income Supplement — The Social Security Income supplement is managed by individual states to provide extra support for people with disabilities.

Social Security Income Supplementary Payments — Social Security Income Supplementary Payments are extra supplementary payments to people with disabilities on top of the SSI they receive from the federal government. Each state manages the supplementary payments independently.

Special Education — Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including (1) instruction at the classroom, home, hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and (2) physical education. The term can include each of the following: (a) speech-language pathology services, or any other related service, if the service is considered special education rather than a related service under state standards; (b) travel training; and (c) vocational education.

Successful Employment (VR) — The U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration defines successful employment as employment for at least 90 days in an integrated employment setting.

Successfully Rehabilitated — Successful rehabilitation describes achieved vocational rehabilitation outcomes including occupational/ vocational skills training, employment (re-entering the workforce), technical assistance, and transportation services.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — The Social Security Administration pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. Social Security Income benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.

Unemployment Rate (ACS) — The percent of the labor force who do not have a job and are available and looking for work. 

United States Census Bureau — An agency within the United States Federal Statistical System tasked with producing data about the American people and economy. Their primary task is to conduct the United States Census every ten years.

United States Department of Health and Human Services — A department in the United States government tasked with protecting and maintaining the health of all Americans.

Validity — The extent to which findings represent the phenomenon or variable they intend to measure.

Veteran(s) — A person who previously served in the armed forces.

Veteran Benefits — Federal assistance provided to Veterans and their dependents. This includes disability compensation, Veteran’s pension programs, medical care, and educational programs.

Vision Disability (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, individuals who indicated “yes” when asked if they were “blind or … have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.” Please note that this question is asked of individuals of all ages.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) — Employment services offered to individuals with mental or physical disabilities. These services are designed to enable participants to attain skills, resources, attitudes, and expectations needed to compete in the interview process, get a job, and keep a job. These services may also help an individual retrain for employment after an injury or mental disorder has disrupted previous employment.

Work Experience (ACS) — In the American Community Survey, work experience is based on the number of hours an individual reported working per week over the previous 12 months. People 16 years old and over who reported that they usually worked 35 or more hours each week, during the weeks they worked, are classified as “Usually worked full time.” People who reported that they usually worked 1 to 34 hours are classified as “Usually worked part time.” Those who did not report working any regular hours in the previous 12 months are classified "did not work".