May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, and an occasion to highlight the importance of preparing for the sudden onset of a disability and the many ways in which it could impact you and your family’s future — often when you least expect it.
Perhaps you feel secure because you have home, car, and health insurance — but will you have the coverage you need to protect your financial future in the event of an unexpected illness or injury that leaves you unable to work? As a leader in the absence services industry, we take our responsibility as an advocate and educator seriously, so we are using this occasion to spark conversation about the prevalence of disabilities, and the ripple effect they can have on your future if you have not mentally and financially planned for such an event.
It may be surprising to learn that the Social Security Administration has found that more than one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. Despite this statistic, many young and healthy workers choose not to purchase income replacement disability coverage. For some, the term “disability insurance” is exclusively associated with cancer, heart disease, and other conditions that they believe only affect “older age” individuals when in reality, these conditions can develop at any age. Additionally, many long-term absences are caused by other surprisingly common issues, including depression, anxiety, back injuries, and even medical leave required for those caring for a sick loved one.
The Council for Disability Awareness states that the average long-term disability claim lasts nearly 35 months. For those who experience a disabling event for which they are not prepared, suddenly losing income for such a long period of time may trigger financial, mental, and emotional distress. Most Americans do not have disability insurance, or they have not established financial plans to support themselves or their family in case of such an emergency. While specific plans and preparations may vary considerably based on a variety of socio-economic factors, there are some key things you can do now to help protect your financial future in the event of an unexpected illness or injury:
- Review your coverage options: Consult with your employer’s Human Resources department to ask about the various types of disability coverage or medical leave benefit options that may be available to you. Some plans may be much more affordable than you think.
- Make a plan: Review your finances and identify any opportunity there may be to put more money aside in the event of an emergency. Being able to cover a few months’ worth of expenses may not be sufficient in the case of a serious health issue. If your income is limited or you’re uncertain on how to begin, consider using a budgeting app or other financial planning tool to help you get organized.
- Get educated about additional forms of income: In addition to any short and long-term disability coverage you may receive through your employer, in the event of a sudden illness or injury, you may also be eligible to receive worker’s compensation, SSDI, and a variety of other benefits. Knowing what these options are ahead of time could help you take quick action in the event of a medical or financial emergency.
This is just the start of the conversation about how to understand and prepare for the event of a disability. We know firsthand how difficult these topics can be to discuss, but we also know the incredible impact that disability insurance benefits can make in the lives of disabled individuals and those caring for sick/injured loved ones. The Council for Disability Awareness recently shared tips on how to utilize disability income in the event of an unexpected illness or injury, and we encourage anyone who does not currently have disability coverage to explore their options. Additionally, our team is available to answer any questions you may have about the disability claims process, and you can learn more about the various services and solutions we offer on our website.
Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way. The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.