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WHO report: 15 percent of the world's population is disabled

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first worldwide survey since the 1970s of the number of people with a temporary or permanent disability. The study, in conjunction with the World Bank, found that in the last 30-40 years, the percentage of people who are physically or mentally disabled has climbed from 10 percent to almost 15 percent.

WHO disability estimates are limited to figures that can be obtained through global health organizations, some of which fail to accurately track disabilities and others who define them differently. More than 1 billion people, or one in every seven people, are disabled.

The survey used a definition of disability that included people who had difficulty being able to see, walk, hear, speak, remember, or who needed help taking care of themselves.

The condition most likely to disable those below 60 years of age was found to be depression. Disabilities related to sight and hearing were the next most common conditions. Clues to the number of disabled people on earth, WHO believes, will propel countries into paying more attention to the scope of the problems those with disabilities face.

Part of the reason for the survey, according to WHO and the World Bank, is for countries to realize how many disabled people are having trouble getting through the tasks of everyday life and being productive members of society. The organizations believe that acknowledgment of the number of citizens who are disabled can help nations make financial plans to accommodate their medical, physical and emotional needs.

For many Americans who live with a disability, Social Security disability benefits may be an option. Experienced Georgia Social Security disability attorneys understand how complicated the process can be. If you are applying for disability benefits or are appealing a denial, seeking legal advice may be beneficial.

Source: NPR, "Nearly 1 in 7 People On Earth Is Disabled, Survey Finds," Joanne Silberner, 9 June 2011

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