Planning For the Unthinkable—How Much Disability Insurance Do You Really Need?

New GoFundMe campaigns continue to be on the rise lately. If you’re active on social media, you likely scroll past them fairly often. This might suggest that more people are falling ill or getting injured at higher rates than before. But that’s not really the case. Rather, it’s Americans are still more likely to invest in life insurance than disability insurance, which leaves them unprepared to weather the financial loss when out of work. And, this is a conundrum for insurance advisors.

Many Americans know the statistics—we’re more likely to become disabled during our career years than we are to pass away. While it’s advisable to purchase life insurance to protect your family in the event of death, we need to do the same in case we fall ill or are injured.

In a recent Forbes article, we learned the Social Security Administration reported that 85.6% of men and 91.2% of women will survive to at least age 67. In the same report, it was projected that a 20-year-old man has a 26.8% chance of suffering a 12-month or longer disability. Those aren’t favorable odds, and that’s a long time to go without any income no matter your age at time of disability.

The Council for Disability Awareness released some startling statistics that should bolt Americans into action. It says:

  • More than 51 million working adults in the United States don’t have private or employer-sponsored disability insurance.
  • Only 48 percent of American adults have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses, while 52 percent have less or none at all.

Three moves to make right now to protect your family in the event you become disabled:

  1. Buy long-term disability insurance first; short-term second. If you become disabled, the Council for Disability Awareness reports the average time away from work is nearly three years. You’ll need the lengthy coverage.
  2. Buy more insurance than what your employer offers as part of your benefit package. You can often buy it through your employer, but private disability insurance stays with you should you change jobs.
  3. Work with a professional advisor who can help you realistically estimate the benefit you need to maintain your financial lifestyle if disabled.