1. If I’m disabled, Social Security disability will cover my living expenses and start quickly.
The truth: Only those severely disabled qualify, usually by medical conditions that last at least a year or result in death. If you can do any kind of work, you are not likely to be approved. If approved, the average benefit is less than $1,200 per month. And approval may not happen quickly. Some are approved within two or three months. Others take two or three years.
2. Most disabilities result from accidents. The truth: According to a 2011 study by the Council for Disability Awareness, 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illness — such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, back pain and arthritis. Only 10 percent are caused by injuries or accidents.
3. My family would be okay if I were disabled. The truth: It’s estimated that about 71 percent of our population is at immediate financial risk after missing just one paycheck. According to the American Journal of Medicine, 62 per- cent of personal bankruptcies and half of all home foreclosures are caused by medical problems (including disability).
4. Most disabilities are short-term. The truth: The average disability lasts about 2½ One in eight people who are disabled will be disabled for more than five years.
5. If I’m disabled, it will most likely happen at work and be covered by workers’compensation. The truth: Less than 5 percent of disability causing incidents are work-related. More than 95 percent of disability causes do not qualify for workers’ compensation.
6. Others will take care of me and provide for my family until I’m able to work again. The truth: Friends, family and fellow church members may help with early expenses. But disabilities can be lengthy and those who help are unlikely to be able to sustain the level of support you’ll need.
7. It won’t happen to me. The truth: Most people believe they are unlikely to be disabled during their career. The reality is that one in four Americans will become disabled at some time during their career.
For young adults, the odds of having a period of disability before age 65 is about six times higher than the odds of dying before age 65. Too often, people get life insurance but the “disability won’t happen to me” mindset keeps people from getting disability insurance.
Disability insurance is “income insurance.” It’s a way to protect your paycheck and your family’s future. Don’t neglect it.
Don Spencer is Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Financial Benefits Counselor.