Disability happens. You can’t predict whether or when it will strike. However, you can prepare in case it does, with a customized disability income insurance plan. This protection can replace a portion of your income to help maintain your current lifestyle if you suffer a disability covered by the policy. Your income is your most valuable asset and has the potential to be substantial over your working lifetime. But to earn it, you must be able to work.
These days, if you can say, “Life is good,” you are fortunate. Fortunate to have your health, your income and a comfortable lifestyle. Have you thought about what would happen if all three were disrupted by a disabling illness or injury?
One day it’s there, the next day it’s not.
We often take our income for granted, even in the most “secure” of jobs. However, nobody’s income is guaranteed. You are earning a living, but if you suffered a serious illness or injury that prevented you from working, then your income would stop. How would you live without income for weeks, months, or even years? Your basic needs continue – food, clothing, shelter – even after your ability to meet them is cut off. A long-term disability can be financially devastating, when no money is coming in and expenses for medical care are rising. Your ability to earn an income is a valuable asset that can, and should, be well-protected.
Leading causes of disability
The leading causes of disability may surprise you. Although many people still associate disability with accidental injury, it’s more likely that an unexpected illness will interrupt your income. According to a recent survey by the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), approximately 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illness rather than accidents. In fact, the single greatest cause remains muscle, back and joint disorders, including chronic back pain and arthritis.
In the accompanying chart, the CDA outlines the percentage of existing long-term disability claims by cause during the same year. As illustrated below, accidental injuries caused fewer than 10 percent of long-term disability claims.
Claims diagnosis category % of claims in 2017
- Muscle, back and joint disorders (Arthritis, back and neck pain, osteoporosis) 28.7%
- Spine and nervous system-related disorders (Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, paralysis) 15.2%
- Cardiovascular and circulatory diseases (Heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, stroke) 12.4%
- Cancer and tumors (Breast cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, leukemia) 9.1%
- Mental illness and behavioral disorders (Depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse) 7.7%
- Accidents, injuries and poisonings (Fractures, sprains and strains, burns) 7.7%
- Respiratory system disorders (Pneumonia, asthma, cystic fibrosis) 3.0%
- Pregnancy, complications of pregnancy and childbirth (Normal delivery, caesarean section) 1.7%
- Other (examples include infections and parasitic diseases, digestive system and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases and immunity disorders) 14.5%
They didn’t think it could happen to them.
Here are some real-life examples of how disability can impact people’s lives and their ability to earn an income:
Vicki enjoyed the decade she spent in customer service with a major company near her home. Then one day she was in a car accident while driving home from work, leaving her with a lower back injury and significant nerve damage. The injuries kept her out of work for over nine months. When she returned, it was only for a few days per week in a lower-paying job with fewer responsibilities. Vicki eventually recovered, but the lost time affected her career path and overall earnings. Fortunately, her body healed, but the financial impact lingered.
One day, while working for a local elevator repair company, Joshua suffered a total spine injury when a dumbwaiter fell on him, dropping more than 700 pounds onto his back. The incident would force him to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Even after receiving aid through workers’ compensation, his mother
temporarily left work to take care of him, further impeding the family’s income at a time when medical expenses were rapidly piling up. “You never know from one day to the next what will happen,” Joshua said.
“Being in my twenties at the time of the accident, protecting myself from disability was not on my mind.”
Life doesn’t stop at disability – How would you cover your bills?
Some typical sources of income in case of disability are savings, your spouse’s income, other family members, friends, workers’ compensation and social security. Not one of these truly replaces your income. Workers’ compensation pays benefits in case of an on-the-job accident. But it has strict limitations and applies to only a small percentage of disability cases.
- Home - Ability to pay your rent or mortgage
- Car - Ability to pay your other debts, including car loans and personal debt
- Food - Ability to provide essentials, such as food and gasoline
- Bills - You have commitments – from monthly utilities to medical expenses
- Potential Income Sources
- Savings - Do you have enough savings to replace your income for a year or more? And what happens to saving for your retirement and other needs?
- Spouse - Your spouse also works and contributes to your family’s income and lifestyle. Can those contributions replace yours? (And, of course, your spouse’s income isn’t guaranteed, either.)
- Others - Could you depend on family and friends for more than a month or two? Would you really want to or is there anyone else who could help?
- Social Programs - The average monthly SSDI benefit at the end of 2013 was just $1,146.
Plan ahead – you can protect your income.
You insure your home and cars – why not insure your most valuable asset – your ability to earn a living? That’s what disability income insurance does. Jonathan Leonard Insurance works with great companies like Ohio National to provide you with the best Disability Income Insurance policies available today. We can help customize your coverage to your needs and budget. The time to start protecting yourself is now.
* The article you just read is provided by Ohio National Financial Services. For a PDF version of this information, please download or open the link below for Ohio National's brochure of this material.
Jonathan Leonard is the owner of Jonathan Leonard Insurance