Do I Need Disability Insurance?

by Jon Dulin on August 23, 2012 · 15 comments

Do I Need Disability InsuranceYesterday, many financial bloggers took part in a blog movement concerning life insurance. This movement was spearheaded by Jeff Rose over at Good Financial Cents. Many of the blogs I read took part in this movement and it was great to read all of the different takes on life insurance. The overriding themes by most bloggers were:

  • Over 35 million households do not have life insurance
  • Term life insurance was the choice of coverage by most bloggers
  • Most bloggers agreed that life insurance is not needed if you don’t have a family/someone depending on your income

The 35 million households without life insurance is a staggering number. Sadly, many do not realize the impact their untimely death would have on the household they left behind. While I applaud the movements mission to make people aware of the importance of life insurance, one bloggers post brought another topic to mind that I feel needs to be addressed.

Do I Need Disability Insurance?

Daisy, over at When Life Gives You Lemons, pointed out that she is a healthy mid-20’s year old, who doesn’t involve herself with smoking, drugs or reckless abandon that would increase her chances of an untimely death. While I am happy that she doesn’t involve herself with those activities, she has something else to concern herself with other than passing away: becoming disabled.

According to The Council for Disability Awareness:

  • 25% of today’s 20 year olds will become disabled before they retire
  • Over 36 million Americans (12% of the population) are disabled
  • There are 2.5 million disabled workers in their 20s, 30s and 40s receiving Social Security Disability Benefits as of December 2010

A typical female, age 35, 5’4″ tall, 125 pounds, non-smoker, who works mostly an office job, with some outdoor physical responsibilities, and who leads a healthy lifestyle has the following risks:

  • A 24% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during her working career
  • A 38% chance that the disability would last 5 years or longer
  • An average disability for someone like her lasting 82 months

A typical male, age 35, 5’10″ tall, 170 pounds, non-smoker, who works an office job, with some outdoor physical responsibilities, and who leads a healthy lifestyle has the following risks:

  • A 21% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during his working career
  • A 38% chance that the disability would last 5 years or longer
  • An average disability for someone like him lasting 82 months

If the person smokes or is overweight, the odds of disability are even higher.

While it is important to make sure you have life insurance, you should also make it a point to have disability insurance in place should you become disabled. As the above statistics point out, you have a much greater chance of ending up disabled than you do of meeting your untimely passing.

Think about this for a minute: you become disabled and can no longer work. How are you going to survive financially? You will most likely get a monthly Social Security Disability check, but then what? Not only will you have to cover the living expenses you had before your accident, but now there could be other costs including: surgeries, prescriptions, doctors appointments, making your home and car accessible depending upon your injury, etc. Where will the money come from for these expenses?

Now I know what many are probably thinking. You’ll deal with this another day, or Social Security Disability will be there for me. Or, most likely you’ll get hurt at work, meaning your worker’s compensation will cover you. Hopefully, these stats open your eyes:

  • 65% of initial Social Security Disability claims were denied in 2009
  • The average benefit paid is $1,065 per month, with 52% of people receiving LESS than that
  • 95% of disabling accidents are NOT WORK RELATED, meaning worker’s compensation will not cover you

It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but it is one that people need to be made aware of. I urge you to look into getting disability insurance. I am just like most of you – I don’t have any disability coverage. But these numbers are enough to make me take action. It doesn’t cost a lot to insure yourself either. You can expect to pay 1-3% of your annual income for a policy that would pay you $2,500 month. For a typical male, the monthly cost of a $2,500 monthly benefit is $45. Of course, rates vary depending on many factors.

Other Potential Sources of Income

Have you become disabled and you are being denied your benefits? Consider filing a class action lawsuit to receive the benefits you deserve. A class action is a lawsuit filed on behalf of an entire group of consumers who have suffered injury as the result of a corporation’s actions. Some examples of a class action suit include a suit filed against a loan company for misleading borrowers or even a car manufacturer not recalling vehicles after a part on their cars is not functioning as it should.

Here is what happens many times taking the malfunctioning car part noted from above: You get in an accident and are denied a disability claim for whatever reason the insurance company comes up with. Unbeknownst to you, others have also gotten into an accident due to the same malfunctioning part and have been denied their claim as well.

As more accidents come to light, it is realized that the malfunctioning part is the reason why you were in an accident. Since your disability was due to the negligence of others, you should look into hiring class action lawyers to see if there is potential there for a case. In these situations, class action lawyers are there to protect consumers when insurance companies deny them a disability claim. The class action lawsuit allows for these people to be compensated for their injuries.

Understand though, that many times these cases can take a decent period of time to reach a verdict, so you will still have to find ways to support yourself while out of work. The good news is that if you are able to win the case, you will have money to support your future self.

Final Thoughts

I’m hoping that you can see the benefit of “spending” that amount of money each month. In my eyes, it’s a win-win. You either have coverage and are able to survive financially should disability occur, regardless if it is a short term disability or a long tern one, or you get lucky and don’t have to take advantage of the coverage. While you are getting this coverage, it’s a good idea to review your estate documents as well, including your will.

Readers, do you have disability coverage? Do these numbers make you think about getting coverage?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason @ WorkSaveLive August 23, 2012 at 8:32 am

Those statistics are amazing. I knew the 20-25% will get disabled but the other numbers just fascinate me.

I’m BIG on long-term disability insurance but I’m not a huge fan of short-term. My emergency fund will serve as the short-term and therefore I only am concerned with anything lasting longer than 3-6 months.
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moneysma August 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Good to hear you have thought about this and have a plan Jason. I was pretty amazed at the numbers myself when I saw them.


Daisy August 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

Disability insurance is a whole other ball game. I’m convinced that it’s super important and I have been considering getting the boyfriend such insurance for Christmas. he’s self employed so if he became disabled, there is not duty to accommodate himself – he’d need to be insured.
Daisy recently posted..The Life Insurance Movement: I’m IndifferentMy Profile


moneysma August 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Glad to hear it’s something that has been on your mind. The thought of disability insurance came to mind after I read your post. When I found the stats on it, I started writing this post because I think it is something most everyone overlooks.


Veronica @ Pelican on Money August 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm

You know though, I wonder who is funding The Council for Disability Awareness? Some statistics seem too much to believe, I guess that’s just the skeptic in me wanting to question everything.
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moneysma August 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

For what it’s worth, the CDA is a non-profit organization. Of course, that doesn’t mean that some fat-cat insurer didn’t just give them a boatload of money to do some research and get the numbers looking like they want to.

On the other hand, while the numbers may seem high, think about how far we have come as a society in terms of safety. Cars has multiple airbags, we wear helmets when riding bikes, we have to use sunscreen, etc. It’s all designed to protect us from dying, which it does, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get hurt and cannot work for a few weeks/months/years.


Long Island Disability lawyer August 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

In the United States many people continue to be under insured. Many people think social security disability will be able to cover all expenses, however that is not the case for most people.


moneysma August 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I was in this same boat until reading that stats that the average SSDI check is about $1,000 and half receive less than that. With my mortgage and other livings expenses, it would be hard for me to survive very long with that large cut in my income.


Shannon-ReadyForZero August 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Um, yeah, these statistics are pretty surprising… I don’t have disability insurance but now I’m thinking maybe I should change that. I have an office job but do go indoor rock climbing and things like that during the weekends – so my chances of getting hurt are probably higher than I realized (not to mention the fact that I’m a klutz in general). Thanks so much for shedding some light on this!
Shannon-ReadyForZero recently posted..Better Know… Andrea from So Over ThisMy Profile


moneysma August 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

You’re welcome Shannon!! How long have you been rock climbing? I’ve never done it, but have been thinking of going to an indoor gym and try it out.


Shannon-ReadyForZero August 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm

@moneysma: Only a few months. You should definitely try it – it’s way more fun than the typical treadmill/weight lifting routine at other gyms. It can be kind of scary at first but getting over that fear is just about as satisfying as the physical strength and agility you build.
Shannon-ReadyForZero recently posted..Better Know… Andrea from So Over ThisMy Profile


Sean @ One Smart Dollar August 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I do not have disability insurance now that I am self employed. I had it when I had an employer and actually had to use the short term disability insurance after an accident.


moneysma August 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

How long were you out of work because of the accident? Have you thought about getting coverage since an employer does not cover you?


Nick August 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I have good disability insurance through work for free. I’ve made sure to budget as best I can to make sure I can live on less than the after-tax benefit if the worst happens (or second worst, I guess…). But there’s no way I’d ever be without insurance. If I lose or leave my gig, I’m buying it on my own. I’ve looked into my company giving me the amount they give for the disability benefit so I can add my own funds and buy a policy with after-tax dollars, but no dice. Fortunately I’m up for a promotion over the next few years. If I score it, then the policy is even better and would take extraordinary care of me and my family.

I totally agree that disability insurance is a must. Great job highlighting it!
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moneysma August 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Glad to hear that you have disability through work and you’d buy it on your own if you left or lost your job. Too many people (myself included) overlook this important protection.


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