Disability Rate Among Government Benefit Recipients Varies

Nearly a third of all beneficiaries of income-based assistance from the federal government or states reported a disability in 2011.
by | February 28, 2013
 

Disability status is a key component in determining eligibility for many government assistance programs.

Nearly a third -- about 14 million -- of all beneficiaries of income-based assistance from the federal government or states reported a disability in 2011. A new U.S. Census Bureau report published this week shows how this rate can vary from state to state.

To qualify for many assistance programs, individuals must suffer from a disability or meet age and income requirements. In addition, a disabled person’s income is typically far below the national average, with only one of every three disabled adults employed in 2011.

A few states around the Appalachian region and further west were found to have the highest rates of recipients with disabilities. West Virginia recorded the highest rate (41.7 percent), followed by Wyoming (40 percent) and Kentucky (39.4 percent). Arizona and Hawaii had the lowest share of disability rate, each about a quarter of total recipients.

The data, compiled from the American Community Survey, measured participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (food stamps), Supplemental Security Income program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid and other public assistance. Individuals considered to be disabled reported having ambulatory, independent-living, cognitive, self-care, hearing or vision impairments.

The following map illustrates percentages of income-based government assistance recipients who were disabled in 2011. States with higher percentages are shown in dark orange (click a state for totals).

NOTE: Please zoom out to view Alaska and Hawaii.

In all, about 46 million Americans received some form of cash or in-kind assistance in 2011. That’s about 20 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population, according to the Census Bureau.

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