As we try to get our finances under control in this frantic market, experts say long-term disability insurance can be more important than saving for a rainy day or retirement, especially for young, single workers. No one wants to believe they'll ever become disabled, let alone disabled for an extended period of time. But according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), at age 35, people have a 45% chance of being disabled for 90 days or longer before their 65th birthday. And among those people, there's a 70% chance of being disabled for another two years.
Bottom line: If you become disabled and you can't work, you can't make money. Being disabled doesn't just mean breaking your arms. It can also mean a psychological or emotional condition that prevents you from working.
Don't fall behind if you can help it. Here's what you need to know.
As far as insurance companies and benefit providers go, there's no single definition for the term "disability." To some it means a condition preventing one from performing his or her job. To others it may mean not being able to do any job. This can affect whether or not one's disability claim is approved. What's more is, "a lot of plans will, after a period of time, say two or three years, change the term of disability," says Steve Weisbart, an economist at III. Typically the description of "disability" changes to become more challenging for the individual to qualify. "[Insurance companies] expect that if it's at all possible for you to make a recovery you should do that…instead of watching soap operas all day," says Weisbart. Not to mention, it also gets insurance companies off the hook from continuing to pay you.
"Anyone who has to support another and or has their own bills and does not have another independent source of income needs disability insurance," says disability attorney Troy Rosasco of the New York firm Turley, Redmond & Rosasco.