Sick or Hurt, Can’t Work – Now What?

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Will You Need Disability Services?

A question for those that are yet working: why are you working? Perhaps a couple people would say ”because I want to”. However, nearly 100% would say “because I need to pay my bills”. If you were not able to work because you were sick or hurt, how would you pay your bills? Even the basic needs such as a place to live and food? Most would think “sickness or injury, well that cannot happen to me”. But, read further:

Did you know: Three in ten American’s entering the workforce today will become disabled before they retire? Right now, 18% of the population classify themselves as fully or partially disabled. This is according to The Social Security Administration Fact Sheet Jan 2009. According to The Council for Disability Awareness’ Personal Disability Quotient, a typical male (you?) of average height and weight who leads a healthy lifestyle has a 21% chance of being disabled for 3 months or longer. The same active female, a 24% chance. A 30 – 40 pound overweight tobacco user has a 41 – 45% chance of a 3 month or longer disability. Strikingly, 90% of disabilities are caused by illnesses, not accidents.

So, how would you pay your bills if you were the in the 30% that will become disabled? If you are married, perhaps your spouse’s job would pay your house payment/taxes and for groceries. But chances are, if you are both working, you are spending all of your income now. Perhaps you have an emergency fund of 6 months of earnings? Most don’t. Perhaps you have short term and long term disability coverage at work. Most don’t. Perhaps you believe Social Security will begin paying? Even if you qualify for Social Security Disability, it is usually a year before you collect any benefit checks. How would you even pay COBRA health insurance premiums? The simple fact is that medical problems lead to half of the home foreclosures in 2006 accounting to “Get Sick, Get Out: The Medical Causes of Home Mortgage Foreclosures”.

Now, what can you do to provide more security for you and your family? First, gather information. Go to http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/chances_disability/pdq.asp and check out your disability quotient. Next, from this same website, explore how you can reduce you risks. This is an excellent informational website.

Review your health insurance program whether it is provided by your employer or you buy it personally. Know that medical insurance plans do not provide coverage to replace your paycheck. Look specifically for short term (6 months max) or long term disability coverage. If you have disability coverage see when it starts paying, how much, and how long.

Most working American’s today do not have any coverage to pay their bills if they become sick or hurt and unable to work.

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Steven A. Buttice is the president of Medical Reimbursement & Management Services, Inc., a firm specializing in issues affecting seniors, including seminars and consultation on Medicare Plans, Long Term Care and other types of insurance, claims issues, and sales/service of insurance products since 1984.

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