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Fact Sheet: Disability and Economic Justice

What nonprofits and funders need to know

A Disability Lens is Essential to Economic Justice

According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States have a disability. 1 As the Century Foundation’s Disability Economic Justice Collaborative explains, “Disability can be both a cause and a consequence of economic insecurity.” Nonprofits and funders must recognize how existing policies and systems exclude and/or financially penalize people with disabilities, especially those who are BIPOC and LGBTQIA+. The following statistics highlight just some of the many economic inequities disabled people experience.


For the 2018-2019 school year, the average graduation rate for students with disabilities was 67.1%, which is 17.5 percentage points lower than the 84.6% rate at which all students graduated. 2

Education graphic, using 10 graduation hats to represent 100 percent. 67 point 1 percent, with 6 hats half filled in dark blue. 84 point 6 percent, with 8 hats half filled in green. Dark blue equals disabled students. Green equals all students.

In 2021, only 19.1% of disabled were employed, compared to 63.7% of non-disabled people. 3

Two bars, representing employment. Left filled in dark blue, up to 19 point 1 percent out of 100, for disabled employment. Right bar filled in green, up to 63 point 7 percent out of 100, for non-disabled employment.

In 2020, 21.6% of disabled people in the U.S. reported they could not see a doctor due to cost barriers. 4

Circle ring filled 21 pont 6 percent in dark blue. Around a center icon of the medical plus symbol crossed out with an x. To represent the amount of disabled people who could not see a doctor.

In 2021, nearly 40% of renters with a disability struggled to pay rent, compared to a national average of 25%. 5

Two houses. Left house filled in dark blue, up to 40 percent, to represent disabled people struggling to pay rent. Right house filled in green, up to 20 percent, to represent the national average of people struggling to pay rent.

The 2019 median income for disabled people in the U.S. was $25,270, compared to $37,262 for non-disabled people. 6

Infographic of two bars, representing median incomes. Left bar, filled less with dark blue, for disabled people. Median income of 25,270 dollars. Right bar, filled full with green, for non-disabled people. Median income of 37,262 dollars.

In 2021, the maximum federal Supplemental Security Income benefit was less than the federal poverty level (FPL), at $794 per month, or about 74% of the FPL for an individual. 7

Two 3D pie charts. Top chart with a small dark blue portion. Label underneath. Disabled people in poverty equals 21 point 6 percent. Bottom chart with a smaller green portion, compared to the blue above. Label underneath. Non-disabled people in povery equals 10 percent.

In 2019, 21.6% of disabled people were considered poor based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure Census, compared to just over 10% of non-disabled people. 8

People receiving home and community-based services through Medicaid are not permitted to have financial assets that exceed state-determined thresholds, meaning many disabled people can’t have above $2,000 in assets to maintain eligibility. 9

Bar graphic representing assistance eligibility. Bar filled low in dark blue, cut off by a green level labelled, 2,000 dollar limit. The rest of the bar up to the top is empty with a light gray background.

1. Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

2. Good News, Bad News on Graduation Rates National School Boards Association

3. Labor Force Characteristics PDF U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) Data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Human Development and Disability

5. Economic Justice is Disability Justice The Century Foundation, Disability Economic Justice Collaborative

6. B18140 Census Bureau Table U.S. Census Bureau

7. Supplemental Security Income for People with Disabilities Kaiser Family Foundation  

8. 7 Facts About the Economic Crisis Facing People with Disabilities in the United States The Century Foundation, Disability Economic Justice Collaborative

9. State Policy Choices About Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Kaiser Family Foundation

Join us on the journey to disability inclusion!

Join us on the journey to disability inclusion!

The Disability & Philanthropy Forum is committed to expanding philanthropic commitment to disability rights and justice by centering the leadership of the disability community. Visit our website, and if you’re eligible, sign up for a free membership.