By Dan Schulte, Vice President and Manager, Annuities and Insurance

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Disability is frightening, so much so that you might not want to think about it at all. However, becoming disabled without proper planning could make the burden of a disability even worse by resulting in a significant economic hardship for you and your family. The chances of missing work due to illness, injury, or pregnancy are greater than most realize.  For instance:

  • More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age[1]
  • There were nearly 40 million Americans with a disability in 2015, representing 12.6% of the civilian non-institutionalized population[2]
  • Having a disability has a significant impact on your ability to work. In 2015, 78.3 percent of people between the ages of 21 and 64 in the United States without a disability were employed, but only 35.2 percent of those with a disability were employed.[3]

Many people are not prepared for a disability. At least 51 million working adults in the United States are without disability insurance other than the basic coverage available through Social Security[4]  . Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is often difficult as claims are based on strict criteria.  Also, after submitting a Social Security disability claim, one can expect to wait three to five months for an initial response. During this time, if there is no disability insurance, there may be no source of income.  For those who can qualify, Social Security disability (SSDI) can provide some benefit, however the income provided may be less than they might think.  In January of 2018 those individuals who qualified for benefits received an average of only $1,197 a month.[6]

Long-term disability insurance protects your most important asset-your income.  These policies could replace a portion or all your lost income if you suffer an illness or injury that keeps you out of work. Also, if the premiums are paid with after-tax dollars, the policy will provide you tax-free benefits with features that can match your needs.  In addition, if you are lucky enough to have a disability policy included as an employee benefit, supplementing that insurance with an additional policy could be a smart move.

Contact your Benjamin F. Edwards financial advisor to learn more about planning for disability and for a discussion of insurance products and coverage options.

[1] Social Security Administration,, Table A.

[2] U.S. Census Buereau.


[4] American Council of Life Insurers, unpublished data from study released in September 2017 as Assessing Americans’ Financial and Retirement Security. ACLI found that 54.3% of non-retired households (51.3 million in total) did not report having disability insurance. Assuming there is at least one adult in each household, this means the number of “uncovered” adults is at least equal to the number of “uncovered” households.

[5] Social Security Administration,

[6] Social Security Administration, February 2018.