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Report shows 30 percent of adults receiving government assistance have a disability

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 11:26 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:34 a.m. CDT

Among the 46 million adults who received income-based government assistance in 2011, 30.4 percent of them had a disability, according to a report released recently from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report, Disability Characteristics of Income-Based Government Assistance Recipients in the United States: 2011, offers information about the occurrence ofdisabilities among people 18 and older who received income-based government assistance. The information is based on data from the 2011 American Community Survey.

People with a disability include those having vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care or independent living difficulties. Among recipients of public assistance, 18.2 percent had difficulty walking or climbing stairs, 14.6 percent had trouble leavinghome to go shopping or visit the doctor without assistance, and 14.2 percent encountered trouble with memory, concentration, or making decisions. 

Recipients received assistance in three forms: Cash assistance (cash or money income), in-kind assistance (services, goods or vouchers) or both cash and in-kind assistance. Among people who received both cash and in-kind assistance, 58.3 percent had a disability. Among recipients of only cash assistance, 33.2 percent had a disability. Recipients of only in-kind benefits had the lowest disability rate at 22.6 percent.

This report also found that 22 states had disability rates above the national estimate of 30.4 percent among those receiving assistance. In comparison, 15 states had ratesbelow the national estimate.

States west of the Appalachian Mountains had higher rates of disability among recipients of income-based assistance. In comparison, states in the Southwest andalong the Eastern Seaboard had lower rates.

West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas were three of the Top 5 states for disabilityprevalence in the total population, as well as in the total population receiving government assistance.

In West Virginia, 26.8 percent of people with disabilities reported having ambulatory difficulty, defined as severe difficulties walking or climbing stairs.

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