2017’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities
When searching for a new place to call home, people with disabilities often have a longer and more complicated list of considerations compared with healthier individuals. In addition to common wish-list items, such as reliable public transportation and diverse entertainment options, people with major health conditions also must think about, for instance, accessibility of facilities or even the cleanliness of the air.
According to the Social Security Administration, one in five Americans lives with a disability, and one in 10 has a severe disability. Managing poor health can be quite expensive, considering the high cost of U.S. health care. To add insult to injury, disability checks for most beneficiaries are insufficient for monthly living expenses — let alone disability-related costs. “At the beginning of 2015, Social Security paid an average monthly disability benefit of $1,165” according to the SSA. “That is barely enough to keep a beneficiary above the 2014 poverty level ($11,670 annually).”
Although disability benefits can increase based on inflation, many people with disabilities rely on low cost of living and wages for financial relief. In 2016, nearly 5.4 million people with disabilities were employed. But the unemployment rate for this group has risen in recent years, concerning those who hope to earn a living in order to cover the shortfall in income.
With the physical and economic challenges of managing a disability in mind, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 most populated cities across 28 key indicators of disability-friendliness. Our data set ranges from physicians per capita to rate of workers with disabilities to park accessibility. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
In the overall ranking below, readers who are particularly interested in the best places to live on disability income should focus on the “Economy” category. Likewise, those who place a higher premium on quality of medical care should focus on the “Health Care” category.
Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities
‘Quality of Life’ Rank
‘Health Care’ Rank
|1||Overland Park, KS||61.91||3||57||5|
|2||Grand Rapids, MI||58.49||73||39||1|
|4||Salt Lake City, UT||57.32||69||29||7|
|6||St. Louis, MO||56.76||116||17||6|
|10||Kansas City, MO||55.99||56||32||15|
|12||St. Petersburg, FL||55.87||5||88||54|
|14||Sioux Falls, SD||55.76||59||52||9|
|15||St. Paul, MN||55.49||79||27||14|
|16||Virginia Beach, VA||55.15||2||126||36|
|17||Pembroke Pines, FL||54.85||1||142||33|
|21||Colorado Springs, CO||54.46||54||65||19|
|22||Des Moines, IA||54.32||66||103||2|
|24||Huntington Beach, CA||54.27||48||44||47|
|25||New York, NY||54.18||97||1||150|
|34||Fort Lauderdale, FL||53.37||27||78||50|
|37||Grand Prairie, TX||53.24||7||147||64|
|44||San Francisco, CA||52.96||146||2||86|
|45||San Diego, CA||52.90||125||7||92|
|51||Little Rock, AR||52.37||37||118||20|
|56||Newport News, VA||51.86||25||120||48|
|59||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||51.66||30||64||112|
|64||Fort Worth, TX||51.09||20||125||58|
|75||Los Angeles, CA||50.27||149||5||84|
|84||Las Vegas, NV||49.63||40||61||130|
|87||Corpus Christi, TX||49.40||17||133||81|
|88||Port St. Lucie, FL||49.37||65||116||60|
|91||San Antonio, TX||48.94||60||115||61|
|97||Jersey City, NJ||48.48||98||20||140|
|98||El Paso, TX||48.45||39||131||85|
|100||Fort Wayne, IN||48.29||88||107||41|
|102||Santa Clarita, CA||48.05||110||93||46|
|103||Chula Vista, CA||47.84||105||70||89|
|109||New Orleans, LA||47.03||126||60||79|
|114||Oklahoma City, OK||46.84||81||129||65|
|116||Garden Grove, CA||46.69||135||66||62|
|118||Santa Ana, CA||46.23||127||58||102|
|119||Moreno Valley, CA||46.11||72||101||128|
|T-120||Long Beach, CA||46.05||150||28||62|
|123||North Las Vegas, NV||45.86||22||146||134|
|127||San Jose, CA||45.65||140||35||104|
|140||Santa Rosa, CA||43.53||142||48||121|
|141||Cape Coral, FL||43.35||115||139||93|
|143||Baton Rouge, LA||42.81||137||102||105|
|150||San Bernardino, CA||40.51||141||96||133|
Ask The Experts
Living with a disability can be both financially and physically burdensome. In light of these challenges, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some unique financial challenges faced by people with disabilities, particularly those who use government programs? How can they be overcome?
- In evaluating the best cities for people with disabilities, what are the top five indicators?
- What effect will the recent reforms to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) proposed by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney have on people with disabilities?
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was adopted nearly three decades ago. What 21st century improvements should be made, if any, to this important act?
- What local policies and programs have proven effective in increasing inclusion of and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities?
To determine the most livable places for people with disabilities, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Economy, 2) Quality of Life and 3) Health Care.
We evaluated those dimensions using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for people with disabilities. Please note that data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at the state level only. For metrics marked with two asterisks (**), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded cities in the surrounding metro area.
Economy – Points: 33.33
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Cost of Living: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Median Earnings for People with Disabilities: Double Weight (~6.06 Points)
- Employment Rate for People with Disabilities: Double Weight (~6.06 Points)
- Share of Persons with Disabilities Living Below Poverty Level: Double Weight (~6.06 Points)
- Share of Homeless People with Disabilities: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Annual Cost of In-Home Services: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
- Presence of CDC Funding for Disability & Health Programs: Half* Weight (~1.52 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of funding for disability and health programs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Presence of Public-Housing Waiting List for Seniors/People with Disabilities: Half* Weight (~1.52 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of public-housing waiting lists that are currently open for seniors and persons with disabilities. Public Housing is a federal program managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Quality of Life – Points: 33.33
- Share of People with Disabilities: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Special-Education Teachers per 1,000 School-Aged People with Disabilities: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Graduation Rate for Students with Disabilities: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Wheelchair-Accessible Restaurants per Capita**: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Wheelchair-Accessible Grocery Stores per Capita**: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Wheelchair-Accessible Trails per Capita**: Half* Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Share of Population with Walkable Park Access: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Effectiveness of State Medicaid Programs: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the annual ranking of how well state Medicaid programs serve Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).
- Share of Young Buildings: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
Note: This metric considers the difficulty in making older buildings accessible and accounts for buildings built in 2000 or later.
Health Care – Points: 33.33
- Cost of Doctor Visit: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Average Per-Person Health-Insurance Premium: Half* Weight (~2.38 Points)
- Family Doctors & General Practitioners per Capita: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Occupational Therapists per Capita: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- WalletHub “Doctors” Ranking: Half* Weight (~2.38 Points)
- WalletHub “Nurses” Ranking: Half* Weight (~2.38 Points)
- Hospitals per Capita: Half* Weight (~2.38 Points)
- Quality of Public Hospital System: Half* Weight (~2.38 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Population: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Education Statistics, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Trust For Public Land, Genworth Financial, United Cerebral Palsy, WalkScore, Yelp, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Affordable Housing Online, Kaiser Family Foundation and WalletHub research.
Was this article helpful?