The report on Monday by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) showed that 7.6 million people living in Germany were officially considered severely disabled, out of a total population of about 81 million.
In absolute terms. this number was an increase of less than 1 percent compared to the end of 2013, or 67,000 more people. But as a proprtion of the population the number stayed stable in comparison with 2013.
Slightly more than half (51 percent) were men. About 44 percent of those with serious disabilities were between the ages of 55 and 74, while those over 75 made up 32 percent of the total. Another 2 percent were children and teenagers under 18 years of age.
The overwhelming majority of people had become disabled through a disease, while another 4 percent were born disabled or became so during their first year of life. And 2 percent of disabilities were due to an accident or were related to the person’s occupation.
Most severely disabled people (61 percent) had physical disabilities, such as internal organ problems (25 percent), reduced arm or leg functioning (13 percent), back problems (12 percent), or visual impairment such as blindness (5 percent).
Others suffered from mental disabilities (12 percent), or their most severe form of disability was not shown.
Last year Germany pledged to greatly expand disability rights after UN officials had criticized access for and inclusion of disabled citizens in the education system and labour market.
A spokesperson from the Federal Employment Agency told DPA on Sunday, before the latest Destatis report was released, that only about 16 percent of people with severe disabilities are part of the regular labour market. Another 4 percent are self-employed or are part of the so-called secondary labour market, such as being part of a job creation programme.
One reason for this is that many employers still do not fulfill the statutory quota: companies with more than 20 employees are supposed to fill at least 5 percent of their positions with people with disabilities.
The president of the German Social Association VdK, Ulrike Mascher, explained on Monday that the opportunities in Germany for people with disabilities on the job market remains difficult, even though many of them have higher than average qualifications.