LIFE | Make disability insurance work for you when you can’t

(Family Features) Millions of Americans are out of work right now, but even without the pandemic, millions more are sidelined every year by something more common: an accident, illness or injury that causes a disability.

In fact, more than 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for at least a year before they retire, according to the Social Security Administration.

That can be a long time to go without a paycheck. Research conducted by Dynata on behalf of employee benefits company Unum showed 62% of workers could cover bills for three months or less with existing savings if they lost their primary income. Once the savings runs out, workers said they’d turn to family or friends (37%), dip into retirement savings (36%) or use credit cards (35%) – all short-term solutions with potentially serious long-term implications.

Disability insurance can help provide financial protection by replacing a portion of a worker’s income if he or she is sick or hurt and unable to work. It can be offered as short-term coverage – typically 3-6 months – or long-term coverage that can last several years or until retirement.

One of the most affordable ways to get disability insurance is at work. Some employers pay for this type of coverage as an employee benefit, some share the cost with employees and some offer it as an optional benefit employees can select and pay for independently.

Employees, however, overwhelmingly want the option to acquire disability coverage. The survey indicated 85% of workers believe employers should offer disability insurance. However, only about half of employees said their company offers this benefit.

Employees who have disability coverage said they value the financial protection for themselves and their families (45%) or are worried about getting sick or injured (26%).

Despite statistics showing the frequency of disabling injuries and illnesses, the most common reason workers gave for not having coverage is they’re healthy and don’t need it. A third of employees have that opinion, and the number grows for younger generations: 42% of Millennials and 52% of Gen Z.

An additional 29% of employees said they can’t afford it. However, disability coverage through the workplace is typically much less expensive than buying a private policy, and it’s often the only way to qualify for coverage as part of a group. These premiums tend to be more affordable and can often be paid through payroll deduction.

If you’re concerned about taking care of yourself or your family if you can’t work, check with your employer about options for disability protection and learn more at

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


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