DD Data Brief: Functional Limitations of Adults in the U.S. Non-Institutionalized Population: NHIS-D Analysis

Part of the DD Data Brief series.
Sheryl A Larson, Charlie Lakin, Nohoon Kwak, Lynda Lahti Anderson


A brief comparing the demographic characteristics, health status, functional limitations, and perceived disability status for adults in three groups who had mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities with those of adults with functional limitations only and those of adults with no substantial functional limitations. It is based on data from the 1994-95 National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplement (NHIS-D) that collected extensive information about disabilities among the individuals sampled as part of the annual census-based household interview surveys. The NHIS focuses on the civilian, non-institutionalized population, describing demographic characteristics, health status, functional limitations, and supports and services used. The authors identified 1,116 adults in the combined 1994/1995 NHIS-D sample as having mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities (MR/DD), estimating that 1,495,183 (+/- 3.2%) non-institutionalized adult Americans meet the criteria for one or both of these categories. They also identified 12,078 adults who had substantial functional limitations in one or more of seven major areas of life activity, but who did not meet the criteria for having MR/DD. They estimate that 15,428,317 (+/- 1.48%) noninstitutionalized adult Americans have substantial functional limitations, but not MR/DD.


October 2001 
Volume 3, Number 3
Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL)


  • Specific life stage
    • Adults
  • Specific disability
    • Intellectual/developmental disability (IDD)