Portuguese disability framework brief

1.  Persons with disabilities in Portugal

1.1.     Definition of person with disabilities, for operational purpose

A person with significant activity limitations and participation, in one or several domains of life, resulting from the interaction between the functional and structural changes of permanent nature and the surrounding contexts, causing prolonged difficulties of communication, learning, mobility, autonomy, interpersonal relations and social participation, leading to the mobilisation of services and resources, in order to promote the potential for biopsychosocial functioning

1.2.     Social characterization

1.2.1.    Study Modelling Policies and Practices of Social Inclusion for People with Disabilities in Portugal – 2007[1]

Graph 1: People with disabilities by age groups

Graph 2: People with disabilities according to the type of changes in their body functions

Table 1: Level of education (25-70 years)



Population of Mainland Portugal (%)
Does not know how to read or write,

or did not attend to school

21,1 3,6
1st level of basic education 57,2 36,3
2nd level of basic education 10,6 16,4
3rd level of basic education 6,1 18,9
Secondary education 3,2 15,6
Medium/ higher education 1,7 9,3



Table 2: Participation in economic activity

  Population of Mainland Portugal (%) (18-65 years) PwD

(18-65 years)


(18-35 years)

Rate of activity 100 49 74
Rate of unemployment 100 246 217
Rate of employment 100 40 64



Table 3: Net monthly family income (%)

Up to 403 Euros 27,6
From 404 to 600 Euros 21,7
From 601 to 800 Euros 14,2
From 801 to 1000 Euros 7,9
From 1001 to 1200 Euros 4,6
From 1021 to 1600 Euros 2,4
From 1601 or more Euros 1,1
Does not know/ does not answer 20,6


Having into account that the average number of individuals per family is of 2,4 for this population, the degree of economic precariousness is even more expressive. Considering as a reference the fact that in Portugal, in 2007, the poverty threshold corresponded to 360 Euros of income per adult, it is very likely that a significant part of this population finds itself below that threshold.

Social benefits are the main source of income for 66% of the people with disabilities


1.2.2.    Census 2011[2]


Graph 3: People with difficulties according to the number of difficulties felt


Table 4: Participation in economic activity (%, people aged 15 years or more)

With at least 1 difficulty Overall population
Active population 22 56
– Employed 18 49
– Unemployed 4 7
Inactive population 78 44
Unemployment rate 19 13


1.3.     Perception of discrimination

In the framework of the study Modelling (CRPG & ISCTE, 2007), the persons with disabilities interviewed were asked about their perception regarding discrimination in a set of different social contexts. 97,5% to 99,2% of the interviewees felt they have never or rarely have been discriminated on social participation contexts.

However, according to the EUROBAROMETER survey on discrimination carried out in 2012[3], disability was pointed out by Portuguese people as the second major cause of discrimination on overall settings and also in what regards to labour market.

2.  Work and employment – Portuguese policies aiming at promoting active inclusion of persons with disabilities

Work and employment are key components of the policy and system, with a significant   support scheme, in terms of legal definitions, technical structures and financial resources.

The policy includes:




Employers can also benefit from exemption and/or reduction of social security contributions owed by themselves.

Those who can benefit from those supports are:

The professional qualification and employment support of persons with disabilities is under the responsibility of the public agency in charge of the national policy of vocational training and employment- Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (IEFP) – mainstreaming approach.

Since February 2019, due to a national new regulation, medium (75 > 250 workers) and large (250 or more workers) sized employers are obliged to assure quotas for workers with disabilities.


[1] CRPG & ISCTE (2007). Elementos de caracterização das pessoas com deficiências e incapacidades em Portugal. Vila Nova de Gaia: CRPG – Centro de Reabilitação Profissional de Gaia. [Representative sample of the population residing in Mainland Portugal, aged between 18 and 70 year]

[2] Instituto Nacional de Estatística. Censos 2011, resultados definitivos. Available at http://censos.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=CENSOS&xpgid=censos2011_apresentacao

[3] European Commission (2012). Discriminação na UE – resultados para Portugal. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_393_fact_pt_pt.pdf