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A cautionary tale on merits of long-term disability insurance

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A Seattle man is using his story as a cautionary tale to others who decide not to get long-term disability insurance. Although he was once a successful businessman working for a health care company and earning a six-figure income, he depleted his family's savings, had to sell his home and lost his marriage. Now, at just 47, he gets by on $2,000 a month in Social Security Disability Insurance.

His problems started in 2003 when he got brain cancer while still in his 30s. Although he survived the cancer, the treatment caused epilepsy. A second surgery caused a stroke. Although he attempted to get disability insurance before the second operation, by then he couldn't, so he had to rely on Social Security insurance. Because he had good health insurance, he didn't have the medical debt that many people are faced with after a serious injury or illness.

However, despite speech, physical and occupational therapy, he wasn't able to return to his job. That's when he cashed out investments and his children's college funds and sold his house. Now he tells others about the importance of getting long-term disability insurance whenever he can. He hopes to bring insurance companies together with younger people who typically don't think they need long-term disability insurance.

According to the Social Security Administration, over two-thirds of people working in the private sector don't have this insurance. They don't want to spend the money when they don't expect to have a long-term injury or illness. However, studies show that just over a quarter of 20-year-olds will have a disability by the time they are 67.

This man, who became one of those people, says he tells others, "I'm a good example of what you better not become....I was a healthy and educated young person and then everything disappeared, and I'll never get it fully back."

Getting a long-term disability policy is a crucial first step to protecting your financial future in case you suffer a debilitating injury or illness that prevents you from working. However, getting the insurance company to accept your claims is also essential. People having trouble with denied claims may be wise to seek legal assistance to help ensure that they get the money on which they depend without unnecessary delays and denials.

Source: Source: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Cancer survivor returns to Summerfest with disability insurance message, Megan Trimble, July 4, 2014

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