Protect Yourself: Plan in Case of Disability

<b>Protect Yourself: Plan in Case of Disability</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Monica, a 37-year-old professional and mother, shattered her elbow when she slipped on her porch. In most cases, the story would have ended there, but Monica wasn’t that lucky. After her elbow surgery, Monica developed a condition called osteonecrosis, which caused her bones to crumble.

Once a successful worker in the financial sector, Monica became confined to a wheelchair and required a hired caretaker to bathe, eat and dress. Monica was awarded Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI), but it took two-and-a-half years to start seeing payments — years in which Monica couldn’t work and couldn’t afford rent. Monica used up her retirement savings to pay for her care. By the time she received SSDI, it was too late to save her finances.

Unfortunately, Monica is not alone in neglecting to plan for disability. According to a 2009 Harvard study, over half of all personal bankruptcies are caused by illness or injury.Yet, many people fail to consider that disability can happen to them. According to the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), 60 percent of people feel that their chances of becoming disabled are 2 percent or less during their working years. The real number, according to the Social Security Administration, is 30 percent.

But you can take steps to protect yourself. First, visit www.whatsmypdq.com to learn your Personal Disability Quotient (PDQ), or your chance of an injury or illness that will keep you out of the workplace for an extended amount of time.

Then, evaluate your lifestyle and see if there are any changes you can make to reduce your chances of disability. The CDA recommends cultivating healthy behaviors, such as eating well and exercising to maintain a healthy weight. Regular check-ups and cancer screenings can catch problems before they lead to disability. Simply staying aware and using activity-appropriate safety equipment, like seat belts, safety goggles and helmets, can help you avoid disabling injuries.

“Through planning and prevention, people can minimize their chances of becoming disabled — or at least minimize the financial impact a disability can have on their income and lifestyle,” said Barry Lundquist, president of the CDA. “For most people, their income is by far their most valuable asset, and their ability to earn that income cannot be taken for granted.”

To learn more, join the discussion at www.twitter.com/the_CDA or explore the tools and resources available at www.disabilitycanhappen.org.

Are You Covered For Disability?

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As Americans deliberate out-of-network co-pays, dental coverage and other choices during open enrollment, they often overlook disability insurance — a potentially devastating financial mistake.

Many people discount the idea of disability insurance — they feel healthy and don’t expect to miss work as a result of illness or injury. But disability does happen with more frequency than workers think, and it doesn’t always mean wheelchairs or permanent bed confinement. Anything from back surgery, a broken bone, cancer, heart disease or even a short-term illness like pneumonia can cause someone to miss work.

According to the Social Security Administration, three in 10 of the workers entering the workforce today will become disabled at some point in their career. About one in seven workers will become disabled for five years or more. And disability can happen to anyone at any time — calculate your own chance of disability at www.whatsmypdq.org.

Bills don’t stop when someone stops making income. Americans need to make sure that, in the case of an accident or illness, they’ll still be able to meet their financial obligations.

“We currently are facing many economic challenges, and this season wage earners may see some changes in their benefits packages,” says Barry Lundquist, president of The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA). “It’s important that they don’t lose sight of their single most important asset — the ability to earn an income. It’s imperative during these difficult times to ask questions and learn about disability planning and protection.”

The CDA encourages employees to consider the following questions:

1) What are my necessary monthly living expenses that would continue if my income stopped?

2) Would my personal savings pay for my necessary monthly expenses for one month, two months, three months, six months or longer? Would my savings cover my “out of pocket” medical expenses, like deductibles and copays?

3) Does my employer have a sick-pay plan or long-term disability program, or both? Am I participating? When would it start, how much would it pay me and for how long?

The CDA encourages workers to ask their employer about disability benefits during open enrollment. For more information, visit www.disabilitycanhappen.org.

What Is Your Personal Disability Quotient?

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The faltering economy has left many people worried about keeping their jobs. But too few Americans consider another possibility — that a disability could leave them unable to work.

Accidents or illness can happen to anyone at any time. According to the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), one in seven workers can expect to be disabled for five years or more before retirement. According to the Social Security Administration, three in 10 workers entering the workforce today will become disabled.

A disability that forces a person to miss work can make them financially vulnerable. With many Americans struggling simply to stay afloat, the inability to work can be devastating. Even temporary disability can jeopardize savings, retirement funds and homes.

“We are currently facing many economic challenges, and it’s important that people don’t lose sight of, or fail to recognize, the threat that disability can pose to their financial security,” said Bob Taylor, president of CDA. “Never has it been more important for people to be mindful of the chances they face of suffering an illness or accident and thus losing the ability to earn an income. Never has the ability to earn an income been more important.”

To help people realize their risk of disability, the CDA created its new disability estimator, designed to determine an individual’s Personality Disability Quotient (PDQ), the percentage chance a person has of an illness or injury forcing them to miss work. The PDQ estimator, found at the Web site www.WhatsMyPDQ.org, calculates a person’s chances of becoming disabled for an extended period of time. The PDQ also helps users see how much income they could lose, so they can financially plan for disability.

All Americans should make sure that they can cover their bills, make house and car payments and continue paying money into their retirement accounts in case of a disability. Individuals can also take steps to lower their chances of disability, like receiving regular check-ups, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking everyday precautions — some as simple as using their seat belt. It’s important for all Americans to be engaged in disability planning.

For more information about preparing for disability, visit www.disabilitycanhappen.org.

Disability: An Overlooked Threat to Retirement

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Tough economic times are threatening the financial security of more workers, including their dreams of a secure retirement. The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) paper “Worker Disability: A Growing Risk to Retirement Security” addresses people’s widespread unawareness about the growing incidence of disability and the financial risks an unexpected accident or illness can have on workers’ retirement savings.

“The responsibility for retirement funding has essentially shifted to the individual,” says Robert Taylor, president of the CDA. “Unfortunately, most Americans just don’t understand that their chances of becoming disabled are on the rise, putting their -; and their families’ -; current and future financial lifestyle at risk. Most employees don’t realize that if their income stops, so do contributions to their 401(k) plan.”

Studies predict that three in 10 workers entering the workforce today will experience a serious income-stopping disability before retirement. The CDA paper notes that the number of disabled workers has increased an alarming 35 percent since 2000 -; a trend attributed mostly to an aging workforce, the growth of life-extending medical technologies and the declining general health of the population. Yet, according to the CDA Web site, www.disabilitycanhappen.org, close to 90 percent of workers significantly underestimate their own chances of becoming disabled, and six in 10 workers have never discussed how they would pay their bills during an income-limiting illness or injury.

Sound financial planning, preferably with the help of a qualified financial advisor, is critical to being prepared for the financial risks that can result from losing your income because of disability. The planning process should include determining your necessary living expenses, as well as the “added costs” of losing your income, such as funding your retirement plan and covering additional medical care expenses and COBRA premiums. It’s also important to understand what sources of income may be available to you if you become disabled, such as your employer’s sick pay and long-term disability plans, social security disability insurance and worker’s compensation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle to reduce your odds of becoming disabled is a key, yet often-overlooked, financial planning action.

“Good disability financial planning is essential for all workers,” states Taylor. “The CDA is working hard to encourage all working Americans to be better prepared to help secure their financial well-being today and into retirement, in the event they experience a long-term disability.”