How do Georgia cities fare for people with disabilities?

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Best cities for people with disabilities 2018 Overland Park, Kansas South Burlington, Vermont Sioux Falls, South Dakota Scottsdale, Arizona Columbia, Maryland Source: WalletHub

One in four American adults have a major disability, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And with the average monthly Social Security disability benefit at only $1,065.73, many adults with disabilities may only make a few hundred dollars above the federal poverty line.

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When it comes to living comfortably with a disability that impacts the wallet and the day-to-day, some cities certainly fare better than others.

Analysts over at personal finance website WalletHub sought to find out where in the country those with disabilities face the least economic and physical challenges. They compared the 150 most populated U.S. cities (plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state) across three key dimensions: economy, quality of life and health care.


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The dimensions were further evaluated using 31 relevant metrics, including housing affordability, special education teachers per 1,000 school-aged people with disabilities, wheelchair-accessible restaurants and recreational establishments, cost of doctor visit and more.

Of the 182 cities on the list, Overland Park, Kansas, earned top honors, ranking first in economy, fourth in health care, but 118th in quality of life.

Source: WalletHub

The Kansas city also ranks among the top five for the highest employment rate for people with disabilities and lowest percentage of persons with disabilities in poverty.

The worst city for people with disabilities? New Haven, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, according to WalletHub.

Only one Georgia city — Columbus — ranked among the top 30 for disabilities. Here’s more on how Columbus fared:

  • Overall rank: 29
  • Economy: 32
  • Quality of life: 91
  • Health care: 51

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Augusta came in at No. 44 on the list.

  • Overall rank: 44
  • Economy: 57
  • Quality of life: 125
  • Health care: 26

And then there’s Atlanta, which ranked low overall, but well in quality of life:

  • Overall rank: 99
  • Economy: 171
  • Quality of life: 15
  • Health care: 107
  • Lowest employment rate for people with disabilities: 179

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Despite having the fourth-lowest employment rate for people with disabilities, Atlanta's 2018 rank is an improvement from its previous position at No. 122 overall and No. 33 in quality of life. But since last year, the city worsened in both the economy and health care categories. In 2017, Atlanta ranked No. 139 and No. 98, respectively.

Columbus also significantly improved from its spot at No. 67 last year.

But in recent years, the Peach State’s handling of disability services and its assistance for those with disabilities has fallen under scrutiny.


Last year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the state's problem with delayed appeals of disability claims.


» RELATED: State health agencies sued for 'secretly' cutting aid to the disabled

"More than 1 million Americans...wait an average of nearly two years to get a ruling on their disability claim," AJC's Chris Joyner reported. "In the meantime, many of these workers face terrible financial and medical hardships. Some literally die waiting.

“In fiscal 2010, administrative law judges approved 62 percent of disability claims and denied 25 percent. The rest of the cases were dismissed for various reasons, including from people who abandoned their claims after months or years of delay. By fiscal 2016, approvals had dropped to 46 percent while denials increased to 35 percent,” he added.

In April, four nonprofit organizations announced a lawsuit against Georgia Department of Community Health and Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities, alleging that the agencies had secretly denied compensation for caregivers providing services to Georgians with disabilities.


And when it comes to the state's special education system, a recent article in the New Yorker highlighted "a statewide network of schools for disabled students [that] has trapped black children in neglect and isolation."

Explore more from WalletHub’s 2018 report on the best and worst U.S. cities for people with disabilities.