Among the employed population 9% report having a limiting long-standing illness or disability (LSI), figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have found.
The rate was higher for the unemployed, of who 20% reported having a limiting LSI, the ONS' Adult Health in Great Britain 2013 figures found, the figures being released today.
The most common difficulties from LSIs reported were with mobility; stamina breathing and fatigue; and dexterity.
Those who reported any form of LSI made up 24% of those employed, while for the unemployed 33% reported such conditions.
The highest rates of limiting LSIs were reported among those who had low incomes, with 30% of those with gross incomes under £10,000 a year affected.
Those on £30,000 per year or more had a rate of limiting LSIs of 9%, for higher incomes there was a similar rate of reporting.
Of smokers, 37% reported an LSI, compared to 45% of ex-smokers and 32% of those who had never smoked, however 31% of light smokers (less than 10 a day) reported an LSI.
Among those aged 16-24 15% were affected by an LSI and 8% were affected by limiting LSI, among those aged 25-44 10% reported a limiting LSI and among 45-64 year olds the rate was 22%.
Wales had the highest rate of people with a limiting LSI at 27% while in the South East and East of England the rate was 17%.
Peter Le Beau, chairman of the Income Protection Task Force, said: "The statistics underline the likelihood, sadly the rather sinister likelihood, of picking up a serious illness during working age.
He added: "It also does show that people who are suffering from a long standing illness, one of the things we're trying to underline with seven families, can get back to work. But it's very difficult once you've got a long-standing illness to get employment again."
"That's a big issue, a social issue as much as anything else, we have to I think deal with that one, but with the rehabilitation and support that certainly the insurance industry give people a much better chance of going back to work."
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