More disabled Israelis are working than in the past, according to a report released Wednesday by the Commission for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities. Almost 45 percent (44.9%) of disabled people ages 25-49 worked in 2005, up 4.5% from 2002, the report said. The commission, which is under the auspices of the Justice Ministry, compiled the report ahead of a conference on the rights of the disabled in the workforce Thursday at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. The report did not examine the employment situation of people with severe mental retardation. "There is always the stigma that people with disabilities do not work, but this report shows that disabled people in Israel contribute more to society than in most other countries around the world," Dr. Dina Feldman, commissioner for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. While some 12,000 disabled people work in sheltered workshops, more than 20,000 work in the hi-tech, technology, communications, research, legal and economics fields, she said. A higher percentage of disabled people worked in Israel than in the US and the UK, Feldman said. "These figures put Israel well above the average recorded elsewhere," she said. "These figures give us a lot of hope for the future of Israel's disabled community." The commission did not delve into the issue of equality in the workplace for people with disabilities and did not discuss their income, Feldman said, adding: "We hope, however, that question will be part of future studies." According to a study released by the commission less than six months ago, at least 69% of people with disabilities reported a monthly income of less than NIS 2,000, compared to 19% in the non-disabled sector. Thirteen percent of disabled people earned more than NIS 7,000 a month, compared to 40% for the general population. The commission found that more than 1.36 million people, or 24% of Israelis, regard themselves as disabled, with more than 700,000 people ages 20-64 considered disabled. The report indicated that 31% of disabled people suffer from mental illness, 25% from internal diseases, 20% from retardation 6% from vision problems and 2% were hard of hearing. Among children, 16% suffer from chronic illnesses, 14% from physical disabilities, 11% from emotional problems and 6% from retardation.