United States


Beginning in 1830, questions regarding disability status have been included in the decennial census. Census 2000 asked respondents about five types of disability: sensory, physical, mental, self-care, and mobility. The percent of persons reporting at least one disability was highest among persons 65 and older, with two out of every five aged Americans reporting at least one disability. Physical disability accounted for the majority of the reported disabilities in the 65 and older population. Mobility disability was the next most frequently reported disability.

Pitkin County, Colorado, had the lowest percent of older disabled people in the nation, with only 13.3 percent of persons 65 and older reporting at least one disability. At the other extreme, Dimmit County, Texas, reported that 71.3 percent of its aged population had at least one disability.

Disability Status of the Aged, 2000
Number Percent
Population Age 65 and over 33,346,626 100.00%
No disability 19,368,508 58.08%
One disability* 6,704,088 20.10%
Sensory disability only 1,327,266 3.98%
Physical disability only** 3,246,580 9.74%
Mental disability only 364,937 1.09%
Selfcare disability only 50,436 0.15%
Mobility disability only*** 1,714,869 5.14%
Two or more disabilities 7,274,030 21.81%

* Disability: A long-lasting physical, mental, or emotional condition. This condition can make it difficult for a person to do activities such as walking, climbing stairs, dressing, bathing, learning, or remembering. This condition can also impede a person from being able to go outside the home alone or to work at a job or business.

** Physical Disability: A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying.

*** Mobility Disability: The 2000 Census asks people if they have a "Go Outside The Home" disability. In previous years, the question has been labeled a "Mobility Disability." Both terms have the same meaning and include people who are limited from leaving their homes without assistance. The Census specifically asks if a person is unable to go outside the home for activities such as shopping and visiting the doctor.

Source: Census 2000 analyzed by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN).

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