How many Americans become disabled?

According to U.S. census data, eighteen percent of the American population (at this point in time, that comes to 58 million citizens) has some form of disability with 12% having a severe disability.

I've probably seen similar figures before, but, still, the statistics are sobering. And, of course, not surprising. Aside from the fact that many accidents and impairments just happen, humans, like machines, wear out. And as we age, we become more susceptible to all sorts of illnesses and more susceptible to injury (due to bone thinning, slowed reflexes, and the chance factor: the longer you live the more likely it is that "something" will happen to you).

Disability, to some extent, and in one form or another, may be something that many of us have to look forward to. Literally. According to an article published on, "One in seven workers will be disabled for more than five years."

Adding insult to injury are the financial repercussions of becoming disabled: "46% of all home foreclosures are caused by a disability" (remember: half of all bankruptcies are due to medical reasons). Again, and unfortunately, not surprising. Individuals who file for disability benefits through the social security administration routinely have the specter of possible--and actual--home foreclosure thrust upon them.

And even when someone's home is not being taken away from them, the picture doesn't get really get that much better. According to census information, the poverty rate for those with a severe disability is 26 percent.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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