Massachusetts tops our index thanks in large part to the fact that it has the second-best livability score and the fourth-best health care score. On the livability side, the Bay State ranks in the top 10 for its walkability and for its public transit.
As for health care, 98.3% of residents with disabilities have health insurance. That’s the highest rate in the country. The number of Medicare providers per capita is also fourth-highest in the country.
The unemployment rate for residents who have a disability and are in the labor force is high — at 15% it’s 15th-highest — but the median annual earnings of $23,984 is also 15th-highest in the country.
Coming in at number two, Pennsylvania is a very livable state. In fact, it earned the top livability score out of all the states. Pennsylvania has the ninth-most-used public transit and the third best transit score, which is a metric that looks at the accessibility of public transportation in the state’s biggest cities. If you’re looking to get some fresh air, the Keystone State is also the fourth-most-walkable in the country.
In terms of affordability, Pennsylvania ranks in the top half for its minimum livable wage of $11.45 per hour. That’s the wage a single adult would need in order to comfortably meet the cost of living in Pennsylvania. Annualized, that wage comes very close to the median annual earnings for residents with a disability ($21,696).
Most residents with disabilities are also insured, with 95.6% having health insurance. That’s the 13th-highest rate in our study. Medicare recipients have the seventh-lowest average Medicare bill at just $32.
Vermont, our third-best state for living with a disability, ranks in the top 16 for three out of the four scores we used: health care, livability, and economic data.
Residents with disabilities in Vermont have the second-highest rate of health insurance coverage at 97.7%. Only Massachusetts has a higher coverage rate. And while the median annual earnings are relatively low at $20,427, unemployment is 12th-lowest at 11%.
Labor force participation is also among the highest in the nation at 5.4%. When it comes to getting around, Vermont is in the top five for its public transit accessibility and it has a top-10 score for its level of walkability.
North Dakota is our only Midwestern state in the top 10, and it does particularly well in the economic and affordability metrics. Residents with a disability who are in the labor force have the lowest unemployment rate in our study at just 6%. Only two other states even have a rate below 10% (Nebraska and South Dakota at 9%).
The median earnings of $24,809 are 10th-highest and the poverty rate for those with a disability is 15th-lowest at 19%. Living in the Peace Garden State is also affordable. The median monthly housing cost of $782 is ninth-lowest, and the minimum hourly wage needed to live comfortably is 15th-lowest at $11.12.
The health care in Maryland plays a big part in the state’s top-five ranking. About 96% of residents with disabilities have health insurance and the density of Medicare providers is among the 10 highest in the country. The state also ranks in the top five for its average Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefit of $1,118 and its Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit of $1,242. These are both slightly above the average U.S. benefits, which are about $1,060 for OASDI and $1,197 for SSDI benefits.
The OASDI program awards benefits to partially replace income that is lost because of old age, the death of a spouse, or a disability. The Social Security Administration awards SSDI benefits to people who can't work because of a medical condition that's expected to last at least one year or result in the person’s death.
On the economic side, Marylanders with disabilities have median annual earnings of $30,031. Only one state (Alaska) earns more. Livability is also high with Maryland ranking 16th in that category.
The median annual earnings and the unemployment rate of West Virginians with disabilities rank in the middle of the pack, but West Virginia is also one of the most affordable states in the nation. The hourly wage a worker would need to live comfortably is $10.84, sixth-lowest.
Median monthly housing costs are also just $591. No other state has monthly housing costs of less than $600 and only two have costs of less than $700. Those housing costs work out to 34% of the median earnings for West Virginians with disabilities. That’s also the nation’s lowest rate. In almost all states (47, including Washington, D.C.) median housing costs are more than 40% of the median annual earnings for residents with disabilities.
Delaware has our second-highest health care score. That’s thanks largely to it also having the second-highest OASDI and SSDI benefit awards, at $1,148 and $1,278, respectively. Livability in the First State is also high. Overall, Delaware has the 12th-best livability score. It has a top-10 score for both its public transit and its walkability.
When looking at the state’s economic score, Delaware has the fourth-lowest poverty rate among residents with disabilities at 16%.
The data also shows that the Ticket to Work Program, which provides free employment support services to Social Security disability beneficiaries, is widely used. The density of Ticket to Work offices is 10th-highest and the number of tickets per capita is also high.
People age 18 through 64 who receive SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can get a ticket through the program, which means they qualify to receive career assistance. A ticket allows them to apply for help with a service provider (office) of their choice.
While the Evergreen State has one of the highest costs of living in the country — the average resident needs to earn more than $13 per hour to live comfortably — the median annual earnings for residents with disabilities are also high. The median earnings of $25,504 is seventh-highest. The labor force participation, unemployment, and poverty rates also rank in the top half of all states.
And though Washington’s public transit received our 18th-highest score, one area dragging the state down is its low walkability outside of Seattle.
Helping New York state land in our top 10 is its top-five score for livability. Public transportation plays a big part in that score, with the public transit system received the seventh-highest score. It’s also a popular mode of transportation with almost 30% of workers using public transit to get to work. Interestingly, New York also has the longest average commute time at 33 minutes.
Like other states in the Northeast, New York has a high cost of living (third-highest). The annual earnings for people with disabilities are also high, though, ranking in the top 15.
Notably, many New Yorkers with disabilities also receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. Of the households in which at least one member has a disability, a full 30% receive SNAP benefits. That’s the third-highest rate in the country. The average SNAP benefit award is also fifth-highest, at about $135 per month.
Much like its neighbor to the north, Oregon ranks high for livability. The state has the 12th-best walkability and public transit scores, and all 83 of the state’s public transit stations are ADA-accessible.
Accessibility may be especially important because Oregon has one of the highest percentages of residents with disabilities — 15% of the state population. Nearly 30% of those residents are also in public housing. That’s the fifth-highest rate in the U.S.
Some potential areas of improvement for the Beaver State are its employment rates and median annual earnings. Looking at just those in the labor force, more than 15% of workers with a disability are unemployed. That’s the 12th-highest rate we found. The median annual earnings of $20,343 for residents with disabilities are the 11th-lowest.