Your Probability of Disability
Your probability of suffering from a disability before you retire is 1 out of 3!i Arthritis, back pain, injury/trauma, heart disease, cancer, depression and diabetes all come to mind when you think about conditions that could lead to your disability. But listed below are the ten most common diseases/disorders that contribute to disability in the United States.
- Neuropsychiatric 18.7%
- Cardiovascular/Circulatory 16.8
- Neoplasms 15.1%
- Musculoskeletal 11.8%
- Diabetes, Urogenital, Blood, and Endocrine 8%
- Chronic respiratory 6.5%
- Other non-communicable diseases 5.1%
- Injuries 3.6%
- Self-inflicted 3.1%
- Transport injuries 3%ii
Disability is far more common than most people realize. And that is reason enough for you to seriously consider acquiring Disability Insurance (DI) so that your income and lifestyle are protected.
Most Americans believe disability is something that rarely occurs but as noted above 1 in 3 Americans will suffer a disability before they retire. And it is only too obvious that a disability can strike you physically, or mentally at anytime.
As Disability can be mild to severe, you want to be prepared should a disability prevent you from producing the income to which you have become accustomed.
Also, it has been shown that there are increased costs associated with having to live with a disability. Depending on your specific disability, costs will vary, but in a recent review of the literature, average increased annual costs per person of $6,952 were not uncommon.iii
What Constitutes a Disability?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “The word disability is a legal term, NOT a medical term.”iv And that means it has a different definition than you might first think.
The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone, “Who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability!”v
- “Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking , standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working.”vi
- “It also includes, major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.”vii
Disability insurance (DI) is a contract between you and an insurance company. The contract guarantees to replace your income (up to the specifics of the contract) should you be unable to perform your occupational duties due to a disability. DI can be short term or long term and can be limited to your own occupation or can include any occupation. The key to finding the right DI for your needs is in working with the right agent.
You want an agent that is skilled in the field, who has been vetted and approved to sell the DI product that you need, at a cost that is appropriate and affordable.
You also want to know, beforehand, what the monthly benefit will be, how long the elimination period will last and how long the benefits will be paid. Typically, the longer the elimination period, the lower the premium for your DI coverage will most likely be. But scrimping on premiums may not be in your best interest if you don’t have significant resources that you can draw upon until the elimination period has been fulfilled.
Important Elements of Disability Insurance
Qualification for Disability Insurance
As with typical insurance applications, your name, date of birth, gender, health history and use of any tobacco/nicotine/marijuana will be required for the underwriting process to purchase a personal DI contract on your life. Group DI may provide some coverage for you without all of this information. But for group DI you must belong to a society, fraternity, hospital, university or association that provides a group plan. Remember however, that just because you have group coverage you shouldn’t overlook the necessity that you may need a personal/individual DI contract as well because your group coverage may not provide the income that you need to sustain your lifestyle or support the additional costs you will face should you suffer a disability.
Social Security (SS) also has DI coverage for American citizens. However, the maximum DI benefit that you can individually collect from SS is $735 per month.viii And according to the Social Security Administration, you can’t receive other income of greater than $1,180 for a non-blind person and $1,970 for a blind person, monthly and continue on disability. Therefore, depending on SS to provide your income in case of a disability could severely jeopardize your income, and your lifestyle.
Overall, DI insurance is something that many Americans need but simply have not considered the risks associated with not having it. For professionals, such as doctors, attorneys, accounts, nurses and others who work in professional fields, DI is critical. The exclusive education and skills that you have developed and been trained to perform need to be protected. In other words, you need an iron clad guarantee that if you suffer any sort of disability, you won’t lose the income that you have worked so hard to attain. DI is the single most effective way to make sure that your income never is compromised due to your disability.
(ii) US Burden of Disease Collaborators. The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA, 310(6): 591-608, 2013.
(ix) 10% discount available on Ohio National’s disability product to members and eligible members of the American Medical Association.