The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) released the 2012 Long-Term Disability Claims Review earlier this month. In a nutshell, the study found that while disability claims continued to rise, fewer working Americans are adequately protecting their incomes through disability insurance.
This is a shocking and disturbing finding considering that a 25-year-old has a 12% chance of getting a long-term disability in their lifetime assuming best-case-scenario risk factors. When you add in health history, BMI, smoking and occupational duties, the risk can be as high as 50%. These aren’t percentages to joke around about. Depending on the physical demands of your occupation, disability insurance can be the difference between a secure financial future and one plagued by debt.
So you may be asking – what causes people to file for disability? The study found that the leading causes of disability claims were diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, such as arthritis, spine disorders, back pain, sciatica, and osteoporosis. It’s likely that you know more than 1 person suffering from this kind of disorder which should make you ask yourself – couldn’t it easily be you that suffers next?
Many people have the misconception that long-term disability is for those that have been involved in a major accident or experienced a terrible tragedy. This is not the case. The far more likely scenario is that you are dealing with chronic pain and eventually get to the point where it starts to affect your work. It’s a gradual decline, not an instant injury that causes most Americans to file for disability.
The study also shed light on another less-talked about issue with disability insurance. The sad reality is that even when people realize the need for it, they might not be willing or can’t afford to invest in it. The truth is that one of the leading reasons the number of insureds is declining, is the economy. The high unemployment rate, the ever-rising health insurance premiums, and the disproportional cost of living are leaving Americans feeling insecure and strapped for cash. They either don’t have the extra cash to spend on a policy or feel that saving that money is a better option than spending it.
This ultimately leads to a vicious cycle. It is now, in an uncertain economy, that you need disability insurance the most. Yet, many can’t afford it. I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in it and giving yourself peace of mind if you have the extra cash. A little bit now will go a long way later.