The insurance industry can be extremely convoluted, but diving into disability insurance statistics can provide a lot of insight.

Disabilities is a pretty broad term, with some being more severe than others.

Nevertheless, there are many nuances that play into the type of coverage disabled people receive through insurance.

In the United States alone, there are 51 million working adults who don’t have disability insurance.

This may not seem like a big deal, but no one ever expects to become disabled out of the blue.

Although some people are more likely to become disabled than others, it never hurts to consider signing up for disability insurance.

Sure, one could argue it’s not needed for every individual, but this type of insurance can be a lifesaver when the unexpected occurs.

This article will list numerous statistics about the disability insurance industry and how it correlates to the working class.

Disability Insurance Statistics in 2024

Key Statistics

  • In 2019, around 7.3% of disabled people were unemployed
  • 25% of short-term disability claims are related to pregnancies
  • 40% of disability insurance applications are either declined, rated, or accepted under an exclusion
  • Roughly 5.6% of Americans will encounter a short-term disability every year
  • Illnesses account for 90% of long-term disability claims

The Need for Disability Insurance

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Most people make the mistake of thinking they only need disability insurance if they lose a limb or become permanently crippled in some way.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the insurance covers many facets of short and long-term disabilities.

It’s equally understandable why someone may not opt for disability insurance.

However, there are many lifestyle factors that should make some people sign up.

For example, those with more dangerous jobs may want to look into it, as they encounter above-average risk on a daily basis.

You’d also be surprised to learn what disability insurance covers, as it’s much more than just surface-level issues.

Pregnancy, injury, and illnesses are a few examples of what the insurance can cover.

Below are a few interesting statistics related to the industry and its prevalence in our modern-day world.

What are the Odds of Becoming Disabled?

Most people don’t go through their day-to-day lives worrying about being disabled.

However, it shouldn’t be ignored, as around 1 in 4 individuals in their 20s can expect to be out of work for at least a year due to disability.

These odds tend to increase with age, as 35-year-olds have a 50% chance of being disabled for three months or more before the age of 65.

It looks like a small or significant disability is a pretty high probability for a lot of people. 

Other key statistics pertaining to disability odds include:

  • 25% of 20-year-olds will have some type of disability before they’re 67
  • 16% of Americans have some type of disability related to physical function
  • 50% of disabled Americans are between the ages of 18 and 64
  • 48 million Americans report some aspect of hearing loss
  • Over 1 million Americans are legally blind

The list just goes on from here. All of this might seem quite daunting, but there is a long list of factors that play into a possible disability.

Some are pretty easy to manage, while others can be relatively debilitating.

In the table below, you can get a gist of the chance of becoming disabled for three months or longer before age 65 based on different age groups.

AgeChance of Becoming Disabled (3+ Months)
25 years old58%
30 years old54%
35 years old50%
40 years old45%
45 years old40%
50 years old33%
55 years old23%

Of course, there’s plenty you can do to help avoid a disability, but a lot of them simply come with natural aging.

There’s also data that highlights the average length of a disability among various age groups.

Keep in mind these numbers are considering long-term disabilities only.

  • 25 years old = 2.1 years
  • 30 years old = 2.5 years
  • 35 years old = 2.8 years
  • 40 years old = 3.1 years
  • 45 years old = 3.2 years
  • 50 years old = 3.1 years
  • 55 years old = 2.6 years

Most of these numbers are pretty close together, but some individuals could experience disabilities for a much shorter or longer period of time.

In regard to disability claims, the statistics get much more complicated, considering each person’s situation is unique.


Statistics on Disability Claims

As mentioned earlier, the most common short-term disability claims are related to pregnancies.

When it comes to long-term disability claims, musculoskeletal disorders take the lead at 29%.

If you want to look at military-related claims, Tinnitus is the most common, as hearing damage is pretty common with the job.

Although these disabilities are the leading types of claims in their category, there are many other types of disabilities that are close behind.

Short-Term Disabilities

Regardless if you break them down to short-term, long-term, or military-related, there’s a wide variety of disabilities associated with each category.

For short-term disabilities, some common claims are related to specific musculoskeletal disorders, digestive disorders, mental health issues, and various injuries.

You can get a better look at these statistics in the table below.

Short-Term Disability% of Claims
Musculoskeletal disorders of the back, spine, hips, shoulders, and other areas20%
Digestive disorders (hernias and gastritis)7.8%
Mental health disorders (anxiety and depression)7.7%
Injuries related to fractures, muscle strain, and sprains7.5%

Long-Term Disabilities


Some of the same types of disabilities fall into this category as well.

Of course, long-term disabilities can come with more extensive health complications, and you can expect to see some types of disabilities that are specific to long-term claims.

The table below highlights the most common claims related to long-term disabilities.

Long-Term Disability% of Claims
Musculoskeletal disorders29%
Mental health disorders9.1%

The other category that’s a large part of the disability insurance industry comes down to military-related injuries.

Another category that comes with a long list of potential disabilities, there’s plenty of supporting data that highlights some of the most common claims.

Military-Related Disabilities

Tinnitus is the most common disability that ends up on insurance claims for those in the military.

It’s also automatically rated at 10% because it’s so common, with 93.6% of veterans being a part of this particular rate.

It should be noted that it’s set up this way as there isn’t a lower rating for Tinnitus.

Other common military-related disabilities include:

  • Bilateral hearing loss
  • Lubar and cervical strains
  • Migraines
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Paralysis of the sciatic nerve
  • Degenerative arthritis of the spine
  • Scars
  • Limitation of flexion of the knee
  • Limitation of motion of the ankle

These are only some of the most common when in reality, the category includes what seems like a never-ending list of potential short and long-term disabilities.

As you might expect, disabilities can lead to immediate complications with unemployment rates, which is a large part of why disability insurance is so important.

The next section will focus on how disabilities are correlated to unemployment rates in different categories.


Unemployment Rates Related to Disabled People

Based on data taken from 2019, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was 7.3%.

This may not seem like many people, but those with a disability are two times more likely to be unemployed.

In that same year, men and women account for roughly the same employment rate, with men at 7.4% and women at 7.3%.

50% of every person with a disability was 65 or older, and the unemployment rate for disabled 16 to 19-year-olds was 22.1% in November of 2020.

This number went down that month for those between 20 and 24, as the unemployment rate for this age group was 19.5%.

32% of working individuals with a disability were part-time employees.

Regardless of education level, those with a disability are still much more likely to face unemployment at some point in time.

Unemployment rates for people with a disability also vary by ethnicity, and you can find a brief look at these rates down below.

  • African Americans = 11.8%
  • Hispanics = 8.6%
  • Asians = 6.7%
  • European Americans = 6.6%

Without disability insurance, these physical or mental ailments can come with many setbacks from a personal and professional perspective.

Although unemployment is definitely an issue when it comes to disabilities, many statistics also focus on the employment rate of disabled people.


Employment Rates for Disabled People

A lot of this data also comes from 2019 but highlights many realities of employment rates for those with various disabilities.

Although these numbers change with each passing year, the data still provides a decent overview of what’s generally common.

In 2019, around 19.3% of individuals with a disability were employed in the United States.

For individuals that were aged 16 to 64, there was a 30.9% increase in the employment-population ratio.

This is good news, but disabled people are much more likely to only have part-time employment.

Around 20.7% of people with a disability are found to take on service occupations compared to those without a disability which sits at 17%.

For another interesting fact, disabled people have a 10% higher probability of being self-employed when compared to individuals without a disability (5.9%).

Considering the statistics in this article focus on the United States, you can get a look at the top ten states regarding disability employment rates in the table below.

StateDisability Employment Rate
North Dakota56.3%
South Dakota51.3%

Even if these percentages don’t vary much, as the list continues, some states boast a much lower percentage.

There are many variables that play into these numbers, but it goes to show that some states may offer more help to disabled people than others.

This article has provided many statistics related to specific categories when it comes to disabilities.

To get an overview of disability insurance as a whole, many blanket statistics consider all facets of the industry and the individuals submitting insurance claims.


An Overview of Disability Statistics from 2019

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The disability insurance industry can come with a seemingly endless list of statistics as people, demographics, and types of disabilities all play a part in the available data.

It’s important to remember that many of these numbers are averages, while others are pretty concrete in comparison.

It’s known that over 1 billion people worldwide have some type of disability, and this accounts for roughly 15% of the total population.

Data states that an average of 30% of Americans between 35 and 65 suffer from a disability lasting three months or more.

A chronic condition that leads to the most limitations with work is back disorders, accounting for 21% of claims related to chronic pain.

Shockingly, around 1 in 8 people in the workforce will encounter a disability for five years or more during their lifetime.

Another reason disability insurance is so important is that 50% of workers have no retirement savings or private pension coverage to help support them in old age.

Disabilities are more common than you might think.

Someone is injured in a car accident every 19 seconds, work injuries every 17 seconds, and overall accidents every four seconds. 

Based on information from the Federal Reserve, around 44% of families in the United States spend more than they earn.

This doesn’t leave much cushion available for unexpected disabilities.

Overall, 9 out of 10 individuals continue to underestimate their chances of becoming disabled at some point in their lifetime.


Final Notes

Disabilities are no joke, regardless if they’re short-term or long-term.

Considering how they can significantly affect your cash flow and ability to find work, they can cause long-term damage to your life in more ways than one.

With the help of disability insurance, you can rest easy knowing you’re covered in the event of the unexpected.

This article provided a comprehensive look at disability insurance statistics to demonstrate how common physical and mental disabilities are in the United States.


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