I have a confession to make. There was a time when I didn’t give much thought to disability insurance.
As though it was yesterday, I can recall an insurance agent approaching me. She wanted to discuss a plan that would allow me to continue to support myself and my family should I become disabled due to an accident or an injury. At the time I thought, I’m young, I’ve never been hospitalized, (other than for childbirth). I’ve not suffered any serious injury or so much as a lengthy illness. There’s time to make a decision about this later.
I never discussed this with my husband. I planned to think seriously about the subject when it was time. Like, when I was older or when my health started to fail. Besides, I figured, if I was faced with an accident or injury my husband would care for me and my needs.
That’s the way it was supposed to work.
I had no idea that an ice covered expressway with fresh snow would play a huge part in testing my plan, (or lack thereof). On our way home from a friend’s party one evening the car in the next lane hit a patch of ice and lost control of his car. When our car finally came to a stop we had been hit twice and I could still hear the cars behind us slamming into each other. As far as I know, there were 19 cars and one fatality involved in that accident. Some said we were fortunate that my husband only lost sight in one of his eyes.
For me, one challenge was learning to juggle the task of recovering from a closed head injury while caring for a baby who was only months old. Another challenge was desperately trying to stay upbeat for my family in the wake of our financial situation.
My husband and I had never discussed how we would keep our household running if he was unable to work due to illness or injury. We literally watched our financial security fade. We were faced with losing our home and cars. Our savings quickly dwindled down to nothing. There was no money for utilities, monthly expenses, routine financial responsibilities and additional expenses. We had to borrow money from family to stay afloat. This was painful for my husband since he was the primary breadwinner.
Due to the added stress we were experiencing, it was difficult for either one of us to concentrate on getting well. Endless doctors’ appointments and the mounds of pain medication we had to take meant we could no longer care for our children and had to send them to my Mom out of state.
Although I never thought much about disability insurance before, that experience was a wake-up call for me. We were faced with the realization that we were not too young, too healthy, or too financially secure to protect our most valuable asset: Our ability to earn a living.
According to the Council of Disability Awareness, “… 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.” This is a shockingly large proportion of people. Just as startling is the 2001 study published in The American Journal of Medicine with a finding that medical problems were involved in 46.2% of bankruptcies. We tend to have insurance for our cars, homes, and even our lives, but most of us fail to insure our paychecks.
The time to evaluate your circumstance is now, while you are able to decide. You can start by asking yourself, the following questions:
How will you pay your bills if you are unable to earn a paycheck and for how long?
Do you have a plan to pay your mortgage or rent while you are recovering?
Do you have a plan that will preserve your independence without burdening others?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Carefully examine your personal situation and document your strategy for protecting yourself against financial loss in the event of an injury or illness.
– According to the Council of Disability Awareness, ” just 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.”
– The American Journal of Medicine says, “Our 2001 study in 5 states found that medical problems contributed to at least 46.2% of all bankruptcies.”
An excellent guide to disability income insurance can be ordered or printed at publications.usa.gov. You can also consider enlisting the help of an insurance agent to analyze your sources of income in case of an illness or disability.