From the Census Bureau
The population of people with disabilities inhabit a distinct position in the U.S. economy, both for their contributions to the marketplace and roles in government policies and programs. People with disabilities bring unique sets of skills to the workplace, enhancing the strength and diversity of the U.S. labor market.1 In addition, they make up a significant market of consumers, representing more than $200 billion in discretionary spending and spurring technological innovation and entrepreneurship.2 People with disabilities also often rely on various government interventions to maintain their participation in the community. Federal programs like Social Security and Medicare and more than 60 smaller federal and state programs provide a wide array of income, health care, and other support services to individuals with disabilities across the United States. In 2008, the federal government spent an estimated $357 billion dollars on programs for working-age people with disabilities, representing 12 percent of total federal outlays.3 While there is little doubt about the large economic impact of people with disabilities, estimates of the size and characteristics of this population depend much on the definitions used to classify what it means to be disabled.