08/12/2019 Disability Insurance for More Peace of Mind

Allison Walsh, Director of Social Media

Disability Insurance for More Peace of Mind

26% of Americans are living with a disability1 and are dealing not only with the physical and mental ramifications, but also with the financial fallout of not being able to be perform as well at-or at all at-their careers. 

Take a moment to learn more about the causes of disability, steps you can take to avoid becoming disabled, how to empower yourself financially and have more peace of mind in the event that you do experience a disabling accident or illness.  

What is a disability?

A disability is an impairment of the body or mind that restricts your ability to participate in your normal activities, like:

  • Walking and climbing stairs
  • Concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Running errands
  • Hearing or seeing
  • Dressing and bathing1

Some people are born with disabilities, but for the purposes of this blog, we are discussing disabilities that come on suddenly due to an illness or an accident.

These disabilities may be short in nature—less than six months—or long term. The average length of a disability is 31.2 months1.  Regardless of how long these impairments last, going about a normal life without help can be nearly impossible.


Many factors determine your risk for becoming disabled, like certain health conditions, whether you maintain a healthy weight and the type of activities in which you engage. For a better idea of your risk, calculate your Personal Disability Quotient using the calculator provided by the Council for Disability Awareness.

The most common reason people file a disability claim is for injury caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Simply put, these disorders affect the systems that allow people to be mobile, such as the joints, bones, ligaments and supporting tissues.3 The disability can be short term, as in the case of breaking a bone, or long term from debilitating pain caused by back issues and/or arthritis.3

The next few common causes include cancer, digestive disorders, mental health issues and drug/alcohol addictions and complications from diabetes.2


The best way to prevent getting a disability is to develop a healthy lifestyle: 

  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol intake, don’t do illegal drugs
  • Get regular cancer screenings
  • Control diabetes through lifestyle and medication
  • Practice safety  to avoid accidents
  • Treat any mental health issues or addictions

Despite our best efforts, a disability may occur, and for the average American employee, six months or more without a paycheck is a big challenge. That’s where disability coverage comes in to help you and your family cope until you’re recovered and back to work.

Once you’ve determined your risk, it’s time to consider if disability insurance coverage is right for you.

How can a disability affect your livelihood?

Medical bills, even for short-term disabilities, can be overwhelming.  Add the lack of a paycheck and the added expenses of being disabled, like needing extra help around the house, and you can see how being disabled can cause people to experience increasing and oftentimes, extreme debt accumulation.

According to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.4  That’s not likely to last 34.6 months—the duration of the average long-term disability claim.5  In fact, most people—53%—don’t have savings that could cover expenses for just three months4.

Disability insurance does not replace your entire income, but it can ease the burden and provide a buffer until you’re back on your feet.

What about worker’s compensation?

Disabilities covered by disability insurance are not only those that are incurred on the job. It covers many types of illnesses, accidents and injuries, depending on policy specifics. And while a disability resulting from a o workplace accident is covered by worker’s compensation, only 1 percent of disabilities are work-related.5

Disability insurance-your safety net

You can’t build a sufficient emergency fund overnight. But you can get disability insurance. Know your options. There are two main types of disability insurance6:

  1. Short-term disability
  • Typically replaces 60% -70% of base salary
  • Covers a few months per year, depending on the policy
  • May have a short waiting period after you become disabled and before benefits are paid
  1. Long-term disability
  • Typically replaces 40%-60% of base salary
  • Benefits end when the disability ends. If disability continues, benefits end after a certain number of years or at retirement age
  • 90 days is a common waiting period after disability and before benefits are paid

How to get coverage:

Social Security 
If you qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the average benefit amount in 2017 was $1,171 per month, and you could potentially receive less than this amount7.  

But don’t hold your breath while waiting for disability from Social Security: There is usually a six-month waiting period before benefits begin and more than 1 million people currently await a hearing to see whether they qualify for disability benefits from Social Security, with the average wait nearly two years7.

Many employers offer disability coverage that you can enroll in. Typically, employers pay for some or all of the cost of premiums. While that sounds great, make sure the coverage is enough to meet your financial needs. Also, remember, if you leave your job, the coverage may not leave with you.

Supplemental /Voluntary 
Not all employers pay for disability coverage but offer it as a voluntary benefit.  This means you purchase and pay the entire premium for the coverage. If your employer doesn’t offer disability insurance, or it’s not enough coverage, supplemental disability helps fill the gaps. Plus, if you ever become disabled and need to use the coverage, the benefits will be tax-free. And you own the policy—if you leave your job, your coverage moves with you (as long as you continue to pay for it).

How much disability coverage do you need?

Add your information into the Life Happens Calculator to estimate what you need to maintain your standard of living if you became disabled.

Invest in peace of mind

Chances are many of us will experience an illness or injury that requires time away from work in our lifetimes. Disability insurance helps protect quality of life during recovery so we can focus on healing, not on mounting expenses.  Learn more about Combined Insurance’s Income Protector, and request to see an agent today!

Income Protector is underwritten by Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, IL) in all states, except New York; in New York, by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, NY). Combined Insurance Company of America is not licensed and does not solicit business in New York.


1-Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html

2- Financial Impact of Disability - Council for Disability Awareness. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://disabilitycanhappen.org/financial-impact/

3- Musculoskeletal conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/musculoskeletal-conditions

4-Huddleston, Cameron. “More Than Half of Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings in 2017.” GOBankingRates, 19 Sept. 2017, www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/half-americans-less-savings-2017/

5-Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (Annual) 2016, Table1 Incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry and case types, cases with days away from work.

6-Marquand, Barbara. “Disability Insurance: Why You Need It and How to Get It.” NerdWallet, 20 Oct. 2017, www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/disability-insurance-explained/.

7- Ohlemacher, Stephen. “Social Security disability backlog tops 1 million; thousands die on waitlist.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 18 Sept. 2017, www.denverpost.com/2017/09/18/social-security-disability-backlog-thousands-die-waitlist/


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