What is your most valuable asset? Were you quick to mention your home? Your car? Perhaps even your iPhone X? Sure, these all have value, both financial and emotional, but the most valuable asset that any one of us possesses, yet the one that most of us fail to consider, is our ability to earn a living, our ability to pay for all of our other valuable assets. This is where disability insurance comes in.
It is likely that you have insurance policies on your home, your car, and your valuable articles. You probably even have insurance on your life, in case you should pass too early. But, have you protected your “life” while you’re living? As important as our income (and the ability to earn one) may be, we often forget about salary protection.
Have you ever gone a period of time without an income? Did you struggle to pay your bills, to live your life? Do you think you could survive 3 months without a paycheck? How about six months? Four out of 10 people say they would have trouble paying an unexpected bill that was greater than $4001, so having to pay all their regular expenses without an income would be near impossible. Yet, too many of us do nothing to protect our salary, mostly because people don’t understand how to protect it.
Consider this: It would take $6,275.00 for a family of four to replace income at poverty level for three months.2 Do you have that much in liquid savings? Would your family, your lifestyle, require much more?
Disability Insurance is a misunderstood product. The word “disability” makes most people uncomfortable and is defined in our heads as a permanent disadvantage or handicap. However, when it comes to disability insurance, the disadvantage or handicap just needs to prevent you from working for a period of time. The reasons you may be unable to do so will astound you. They do not discriminate, and they have a greater chance of affecting you than you may even realize.
More than one in four of today’s 20-year old’s can expect to be out of work before retirement age due to a disabling condition.3
Have you ever been pregnant or know someone who has? A high-risk pregnancy that results in bed rest is one of the leading reasons of short-term disability claims. Have you had a back injury, spinal injury, hip, knee, or shoulder injury or know someone who has? How about a mental illness episode, including depression or anxiety? Or, a cancer diagnosis? These are all the leading reasons for disability claims made in America. They are all the very real reasons people have been unable to work, unable to earn their paycheck, and perhaps unable to pay their bills. Unfortunately, you are at as great a risk as anybody to suffer an ailment like this.
The numbers are alarming. The lack of income protection in our country is a culprit of bigger problems. Bankruptcy is often a result of loss of income for medically related reasons. Sadly, cancer patients in the workforce are more likely to go bankrupt than employees who never had cancer because, on top of the medical bills, they are often unexpectedly out of work for so much longer than they anticipated.
In the blink of an eye one thing can change that alters the course of everything else.
I have lived through this first-hand. Physical recovery is much more difficult when you add in the crippling stress of financial hardship. You never think it will happen to you, the disability nor the financial ruin, yet without any warning there could be an injury or a diagnosis that disrupts the way you have always lived.
Life is full of ups and downs and has its share of “what ifs” that become “what now’s?” Many of us will plan with hope for the ups, but rarely do we plan to protect ourselves during the downs. But, we should. Protect your life, protect your income.
1 Federal Reserve, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017 – May 2018. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2018-economic-well-being-of-us-householdsin2017-dealing-with-unexpected-expenses.htm, Figure 11.
2 Prosperity Now, Vulnerability in the Face of Economic Uncertainty: Key Findings from the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard https://prosperitynow.org/sites/default/files/resources/2019_Scorecard_Key_Findings.pdf, page 4. Census Bureau Data, Survey of Income and
3 Social Security Administration, Disability and Death Probability Tables for Insured Workers Born in 1998 https://www.ssa.gov/oact/NOTES/ran6/an2018-6.pdf, Table A.