Number of U.S. Adults Reporting Disabilities is Increasing

The number of U.S. adults reporting a disability increased by 3.4 million between 1999 and 2005, according to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study in today′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report also finds an estimated 1 in 5 U.S. adults (47.5 million, or 21.8 percent) report a disability. The three most common causes of disability among adults in the United States are arthritis or rheumatism, back or spine problems, and heart disease.

"It is likely we will see more dramatic increases in the number of adults with a disability as the baby boomer population begins to enter higher risk, older age groups over the next 20 years," said Chad Helmick, M.D., CDC medical epidemiologist and coauthor of the study. "CDC is working with state health departments and communities to expand the availability of self-management education programs and interventions, such as appropriate physical activity programs, that can reduce the impact of disability."

The study of data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau′s Survey of Income and Program Participation found that women (24.4 percent) have a higher prevalence of disability compared with men (19.9 percent) at all ages. The study also found that disability prevalence doubled for each successive age group - 11.0 percent for ages 18-44, 23.9 percent for ages 45-64, and 51.8 percent for ages 65 or older.

Arthritis encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints and other connective tissue. For more information on arthritis visit For information on disabilities visit For information on heart disease visit