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New Survey Finds Overwhelming Majority of Working Americans Not Financially Prepared for Disability, Would Rely on Sources Other than Themselves for Support

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month; LIFE Foundation Reviews Common Misconceptions to Encourage People to Evaluate their Disability Insurance


ARLINGTON, Va., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- If you were unable to work because of a long-term disability, how would you provide for yourself financially? The results of a new survey released today by the nonprofit LIFE Foundation show that nearly 80 percent of working Americans say they would turn to their employer or the government for financial support in the event of a disabling illness or injury, rather than disability insurance purchased on their own.

Released today in support of Disability Insurance Awareness Month, these findings suggest that far too many working Americans are leaving themselves financially vulnerable by not having the disability insurance protection they need.

"Most people have a false sense of security when it comes to being financially prepared for a long-term disability. The reality is the majority of workers do not have disability coverage through work, and disability benefits offered by the government, such as Social Security or Workers' Compensation, can be difficult to qualify for," said Matthew S. Tassey, CLU, LUTCF, past chair of the LIFE Foundation. "If you work for a living, you must recognize that your ability to work and earn an income is one of your most valuable assets and must be adequately insured. Disability insurance is the only coverage that will work when you can't, to replace your income in the event you become ill or injured and can't do your job."

Survey Findings

Conducted by KRC Research between April 4-7, 2008, the LIFE survey asked 520 working adult Americans (employed either full- or part-time) which source of financial support they would rely on most if they were to become disabled for one year or more. The LIFE Foundation reviews how consumers responded to help dispel some of the most common misconceptions and encourage people to evaluate their disability insurance coverage needs:

-- 35% say they would rely on employer-sponsored disability insurance

coverage if they were to become disabled for one year or more. While

coverage provided by employers is the main source of disability income

protection in the United States, most employers don't provide

disability insurance as an employee benefit. According to the U.S.

Department of Labor, less than 30 percent of U.S. workers have access

to long-term disability coverage through work and only about 37

percent have access to short-term disability coverage. Short-term

coverage typically pays a significant portion of your income for up to

90 days, while long-term coverage pays 40 to 60 percent of your base

pay (before taxes) for longer periods. Even if you're fortunate enough

to have both types of group coverage through your employer, you need

to make sure that it would be sufficient to satisfy your income

replacement needs. If your employer doesn't provide group coverage, it

may offer disability insurance through what is called a voluntary

program. Check with your human resources administrator to see what

coverage and purchase options your company plan provides.

-- 31% say they would rely on government-provided benefits. According to

the Social Security Administration, in 2005 roughly 60 percent of

people who applied for Social Security disability benefits were

initially denied. Eligibility depends not on whether or not you can

perform the functions of your occupation but if you are able to work

at all, and if your condition is expected to last a year or more or to

result in death. If you do qualify, it takes five months or longer for

benefits to kick in and, on average, Social Security pays out just

over $1,000 a month, just barely above the poverty line.

-- 13% say they would turn to Workers' Compensation. Workers'

Compensation only covers you if you get injured, ill or die as a

result of your job and only 10 percent of disabilities actually occur

on the job. Even if the disability occurs at work, Workers'

Compensation payments are sometimes quite modest, and some applicants

won't qualify for any benefits at all. Having disability coverage --

through work or on your own -- is the best way to ensure that you'll

be financially protected in the event you become disabled outside of

the job.

-- 11% would rely on disability insurance they had purchased on their

own. The risks of suffering a disability are real - nearly 1 out of

every 3 workers will suffer a disability that keeps them out of work

for 90 days or longer at some point in their career. Despite the

statistics, there are only 6 million individual disability insurance

policies in force for a U.S. workforce of 146.3 million. Just as you

would insure your home, car or other valuable asset, it's important to

insure your paycheck, as well.

Making sure you have sufficient disability income protection could be a daunting task if you had to do it on your own. Fortunately, there are resources available that can help. For more information and tools on how to get started, visit the disability insurance section of LIFE's website at

You'll also find an online calculator that allows you to determine for yourself about how much disability insurance you need. Just go to

Afterward, consult with your human resources administrator at work or a qualified insurance professional in your community. They can explain your various options and help you put together an insurance program that will protect you in the event of a disabling injury or illness.

About Disability Insurance Awareness Month

Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) was created to get American workers to think about the need to protect their greatest asset - their ability to earn an income. Held in May, DIAM is an industry-wide effort that is coordinated by the nonprofit LIFE Foundation.

About LIFE

The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was founded in 1994 in response to the public's growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs. To learn more about these topics, please visit

CONTACT: Brooke Parker



Katharine Carver


SOURCE LIFE Foundation
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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