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Study: Those With Highest Incomes Have Less Disability

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA--Money does not ward off disabilities.

But having lots more of it than most people can help.

Research published this week suggests that not only is there a significant difference in disability rates between older Americans at or below the poverty level compared to those with middle-incomes, but there also is a major gap between those in the upper-middle class and those who are slightly wealthier.

The study, entitled "Gradient of Disability across the Socioeconomic Spectrum in the United States", was published in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.

By comparing the income levels and disability rates of Americans over age 55 from 2000 U.S. Census data, the researchers found that higher incomes led to lower rates of disability. For instance, those between the ages of 55 and 64 who lived at or below the poverty line ($8,259 per year for a single person in 2000) were six times more likely to report experiencing a disability than those at or above 700 percent of the poverty line ($57,813 per year).

But researchers were surprised to find that seniors between 600 and 699 percent of poverty level were 44 percent more likely to report disabilities than those at or above the 700 percent level.

The report's co-author Dr. Meredith Minkler said one could conclude that those in the uppermost class receive better medical care and live in better environments. People with extra disposable income can also more easily afford to make their homes accessible, which "can make the difference between living at home and being in an institution", she told Forbes.

Gradient of Disability across the Socioeconomic Spectrum in the United States (New England Journal of Medicine)
More Wealth = Better Health In U.S (WebMD via CBS News)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.