Food, Water And Disability Insurance – The Essentials of Life

For most people the ability to earn a living is their most important asset. Imagine you suddenly become sick or injured and are unable to work. How long would you be able to maintain your same standard of living without an income?

With the US savings rate at an all time low, few people, regardless of occupation or family situation have enough set aside to sustain them through an extended disability.

Getting injured or becoming sick is very stressful. Now think about not being able to work and the mounting pills of bills. This extreme stress will probably slower your recovery and cause some depression.

If you are already suffering from an accident or illness could you imagine worrying about putting food on the table or trying to keep the lights on? You could avoid all of the pain and undue stress with a Disability or income protection policy. The small premium you pay now could not compare to the benefits a disability policy can provide if you became disabled.

As Employment opportunity shrinks more people are becoming self employed. These self employed people loose the benefit of group coverage, sponsored by a company. Regardless of your current income bracket, income protection should be your 1st priority. Think about it, if you suddenly loose your ability to earn a living, more sooner then later you world probably go into “survival mode” and start to sell or worse loose the assess that you work so hard to obtain. You could drain your savings and retirement accounts but how long would that last? Could you get by on your spouse income- possibly, but if you are like most, your monthly bills depend on two incomes. You could depend on Social Security Disability Benefits-not necessarily; less then half of all disability applications are ever approved.

To get approved for Social Security Disability benefits, your disability has to be so severe that you are unable to do any work-not just your own or current occupation. If approved your benefits wouldn’t start for 5 months and your disability must be expected to for 12 months or results in death. Most Americans protect their home and vehicles but forget about protecting the most important thing “their income”! Without an income you will no longer be able to afford your home, vehicle and other basic elements of living.

When life is good it’s difficult to imagine being disable from an illness or accident. It’s time to face the facts, that a disability can happen at any time or any place to anyone.

Accidents and Illness will force 1 in 5 US employees to miss work for at least a year before they turn 65. A Howard University report reveals that 53% of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were due to the inability to pay medical expenses. There can’t be financial security unless you first protect your income.

Ask yourself tough questions. How much income protection would you need if you could no longer work? More people get life insurance before disability. Did you know that you are 5 times more likely to become disabled during your working years then you are to die pre- maturely. An illness or accident will keep 1 in 5 workers out of work for a year sometime during their working careers (US Census Bureau December 1997) and 3 in 10 workers entering the workforce will become disable before they retire (Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet January 1999). Don’t fool yourself, there are many who are denied Social Security Disability benefits, even though they are unable to work. In the event that you are one of the fortunate, the waiting time is usually over a year before you are approved. Could you afford to maintain your standard of living without income for over a year?

Over 90% of disabling accidents are not work related. This means that you wouldn’t qualify for Workers Compensation Benefits. And for those of you who think Disability Insurance is for the older worker, 52% of workers receiving Social Security Benefits are under the age of 55 (Social Security 2007 Annual Statistical Report). If you were unable to work for an extended period, what sources of income would be available to you. How could you manage? You could drain your savings and there are some definitions that you should know before shopping for the right disability Insurance Policy.

The Policy Elimination Period – is the period of disability that must elapse before receiving disability payments. It’s similar to the deductible on your auto and home owner’s insurance policy. Example: Jim Smart has a disability policy with a 30 day elimination period. On April 1st Jim was having some chest pain and after much convincing from his wife, decided to go to his Dr. for a check up. Jim Dr. reassured Jim and his Wife that it wasn’t a heart attach, but he pulled a muscle and he would not be able to perform any of his normal duties at work. Jim would get his 1st disability check in 60 days (approx. May 31st or June 1st). Disability Payments are always paid after being disabled or at the end of a period of disability.

Own Occupation – means that the Insurance Company would consider your current occupation at the time of a disabling injury or sickness. Example: If you are a welder and your job requires you to be able to stand for long periods of time if you hurt your toe and your Dr. said that you could do other work but no prolonged standing, then you would still qualify for disability benefits if you had the Own Occupation Rider on our policy.

The Extended Care Option – This type of benefit is of critical need for individuals, who will face the lost of income or even the loss of a career to stay at home and tend to an ill family member. Provision would pay disability benefits to you in the event that your spouse or close relative was injured or sick and you had to take off work to take care of that person.

The Partial Benefit Provision – This Provision will still pay benefits when the insured is able to work, but in a limited capacity. This provision often pays benefits for an extended period of time if the disabled insured has a loss of time, duties or income regardless of the amount of income earned when returning to work or while the gingival continues to work.

Mental Health Coverage – According to Mental Health America (2003), clinical depression has become one of America’s most costly illnesses. Left untreated depression can cost more then $51 million in absenteeism from work.

Disability Statics:

At age 32 the chance of becoming disable for 90 days is 6.5 times greater than the chances of death. (Source: National Association of Insurance Commissions)

More then 51 million Americans – 18% of the population is disabled.

3 out of 10 of the people entering the workforce today will become disable before they retire. (Source: 2007 Social Security Administration)

70% of American workers in the private sector have no long- term disability protection. (2007 Social Security Administration)

$1004 is the average monthly benefit paid by Social Security Disability Insurance. (Source: 2008 Social Security Administration)

2.35 million People were injured in auto accidents in 2008. Care crashes are the leading cause of acquired disability in the United States. (Source: NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System)

75% of disabilities are cause by an illness rather then an accident. (Source: Commissioners Disability Table)

According to a Harvard report, 62% of all personnel bankruptcies filed in 2007 were due to an inability to pay for medical expenses. (The American Journal of Medicine June 4th 2009)

The likelihood of being disabling for 3 months or more is greater than dieing in any given year. (Source: Society of Actuaries)

Accidents or illness will force 1 in 5 US employees to miss work for at least a year before they turn 65. (Source: Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, November 2005)

Every year 350,000 personal bankruptcies are attributed to unexpected illness or injury. (Source: Injury and Illness contributors to bankruptcy, Health Affairs 2005)

Why Disability Insurance Is So Important

When you have a disability of any type, your time, energy, and emotions are all heightened as you begin the journey to learn all you can so that you can regain the best quality of life that you can, given your particular circumstances. And, if you are married, and/or if you have children, trying to communicate with them what is going on with you, as well as to your doctors, becomes a difficult chore also.

With all of this chaos in your life, the absolute last thing that you need to worry about is money! What if I can’t work any longer? How will the bills be paid?

Perhaps you are saying that you do not need any disability insurance. Consider the following.

Disability Statistics[1]

The odds of a person having at least one long term disability (LTD) that lasts three months or longer before that person reaches age 65.

DISABLED: (1999) According to the Disability Management Sourcebook, the number of folks between 17 and 44 with severe disabilities has increased 400 percent over the past 25 years. One in seven people will become disabled for five years or more before they reach 65.

ODDS, STATISTICS AND DISABILITIES: (1999) The chances of using your homeowners insurance are about 1 in 88. The odds of using your auto insurance at about 1 in 47. The chances of using your LTC insurance is about 2 in 5. One out of two women and one out of three men will spend some time in a nursing home. (Journal of the American Society of CLU, 1996) More than 12 million older Americans will require some form of long term care by 2020. (Health Insurance Association of America). 72% of residents in a nursing home are women 90% of nursing home residents are over the age of 65. 22% of the disabled population is under age 65. (Puget Sound Life Underwriters Journal 1996). Functionally disabled people between the ages of 18 and 64 represent 40% of Americans needing long term care services. (Life Insurance Selling 1995)

The likelihood of needing LTC (obviously) increases with age. In 1991, 29.2% if those age 45- 64 had a disability; 44.6% between 65 and 74 had a disability; 63.7% between the ages of 75 to 84. 15.3% and 41.5% respectively had a severe disability. (Employee Benefit Research Institute, 1995) 80% of disabled persons are cared for at home or in adult day care centers. 72% of caregivers are family or friends. (Puget Sound Underwriters Journal). The cost of home care can run from $4.25 to over $200 daily depending on the level of skill needed (SF Chronicle, 1995). Caring for each Alzheimers patient will cost more than $213,000- on top of other medical expenses- over the remaining five years of their lives. (American Journal of Public Health, 1994). Over 99% of nursing home care is either custodial or intermediate care, not skilled care, and is not covered by Medicare or Medicare supplements (Journal of the American Society of CLU’s, 1996).

Reasons People Take STD and LTD

Leading the list of Top 5 causes of short-term disability (STD) workplace absence for 2001 was pregnancy (normal), followed by complications from pregnancy, injuries (excluding back), back conditions and digestive/intestinal conditions. The causes of claims and the percentage received for each cause were as follows:

LTD – 13 percent – Cancer, 12 percent – Complications from Pregnancy, 11 percent – Back, 9 percent – Cardiovascular, 5 percent – Depression
(2003) every year 12% of the adult U.S. population suffers a long-term disability. One out of every seven workers will suffer a five-year or longer period of disability before age 65, and if you’re 35 now, your chances of experiencing a three-month or longer disability before you reach age 65 are 50%. If you’re 45, the figure is 44%

STD – 20 percent – Pregnancy (Normal), 9 percent – Pregnancy (Complications), 9 percent – Injuries (Excluding Back), 8 percent – Back, 8 percent – Digestive/Intestinal

The primary sources of disability insurance are STD and LTD. It is important to see if your company offers these insurances. If they do, make sure that you are covered. If they don’t, you can get personal STD and LTD. By visiting the following website, you can get more information about disability insurances.

How Much Disability Insurance is “Enough”?

Research shows the following about employer-offered STD (short term disability) and LTD (long term disability).

Disability Insurance: ( 2003) In small private firms, fewer than one-quarter of workers have short-term disability coverage (22%), and just 13 percent have long-term disability income insurance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Half of workers at large employers (100 or more employees) have short-term disability income insurance (47%), and more than one-third have long-term disability coverage (40%).

Disability coverage (American Council of Insurers 2004) 82% of employees are lacking in adequate coverage.

The Society of Actuaries says that only 2.5% of employees have individual disability coverage (i.e., paid for by the employee and not the company).

If you have already read the other blogs about Disability insurance, you know how important it is to know about what types of insurance you have, and how much each insurance will pay out, if and when you need it.

Now, you know how much your STD and LTD will pay out each month. The question is, how much SHOULD YOU HAVE?

There are some simple ways to determine just how much is “enough”, and it varies for each family.

1) Sick leave – maintain at minimum 5 days, and, at best, 10 days. In this way, you will be able to meet a usual time gap before your STD kicks in.

2) STD – most STD policies cover up to 26 weeks. To make sure that you have “enough” STD TIME coverage, the weeks should cover your LTD’s elimination period.

3) LTD – timewise, you will want your LTD plan to cover you until your retirement age. (Note, not all retirement ages are at 65. The retirement ages are increasing; make sure that you know your specific retirement age.)

Now, let’s talk about money. To calculate how much money is needed by you and your family, consider the following.

For each month, note the following.

1) OUTGO Your “must pay” expenses (including, but not limited to the following: house payment; utilities; car and gasoline; medical expenses; any child care; any loans, credit cards, etc.)

2) INCOME ON DISABILITY Add together any income other than yours (i.e., spouse’s income) plus whatever you will receive on a monthly basis from your company-paid STD and/or LTD. Add to this amount whatever savings you have, and how long this would last.

The gap between income on disability and outgo would be the amount of income that you might want to offset with a private LTD policy.

What are the odds?: (2005) in the next hour 194 people will be injured in car accidents, 57 homes will catch fire, 230 people will die, and 1,027 will become disabled.

Here are the latest disability trends that concern you.

* Today, we live harder, work harder and play harder than ever before. As a consequence, there has been a dramatic increase in disabling injuries and illnesses.

* In the past 25 years, the number of severely disabled people ages 17 to 44 has increased 400 percent. While the number of people with protection has also increased, most Americans still have a disability income protection gap.

* This is alarming when you consider in a year’s time, chances are only one in 1,200 of you will need your fire insurance–generally considered a necessity for homeowners–but one in eight (8) of you will be sick, injured or killed.

* The risk of becoming disabled will continue to increase.

Aging is a main factor.

* Because of advanced trauma and cancer care, more people today survive illnesses and injuries that were deadly 20 years ago. In 1930, the average U.S. life expectancy was 61; today, it is 76; and by the year 2050, it will be 82. Today, there are 3.6 million Americans over age 65; by 2040, there will be 13.8 million.

* With Americans now living longer, age has and will continue to have a profound impact on disabilities. According to the National Association of Health Underwriters, there are 3.74 disabilities per 1,000 people ages 45 to 49. This increases nearly five times more with age, to 15.18 disabilities per 1,000 people ages 60 to 64.

* In addition, the traditional retirement age is moving up, and more people are likely to work part-time after retirement, thus increasing the risk of a disability later in their life.

Changing workforce

* More than 10.5 million people are starting their own businesses, consulting or working at home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And more women than ever are now working; many families today rely on two incomes. In the early 1900s, there were only 500,000 married women in the labor force. They represented just 4.5 percent of all married women. Today, there are about 39 million married women working outside the home (representing 60 percent of all married women), and 17 million of them have children under age six.

* With more women working and families relying on two incomes, the need for disability protection has become greater, especially since women are twice as likely to suffer a disabling illness than men. And with more people working out of their homes and earning substantial incomes, the need for more flexible, individualized protection is on the rise.

Increase in workplace disabilities

* Over the years, the causes of disabilities have changed in the workplace.

* Today, disabilities due to psychiatric conditions, severe back pains, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, muscle/tissue disorders and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are increasing dramatically. Among the most common long-term disabilities (those lasting longer than three years) are circulatory and heart conditions, back disorders, psychiatric conditions, general sickness and subjective pain.

* Common short-term disabilities (those lasting less than three years) include normal pregnancies as well as pregnancies with complications, injuries, muscular or skeletal problems, and psychiatric or substance abuse problems.

Disability – Medical Fact or Social Construct?

Disability is a term widely used for the social condition recognised as resulting from any type of physical or mental impairment mainly identified through medical procedures. Some are present at birth while other impairments occur at various stages of an individual’s life either as manifestations of genetic conditions or as the result of conflicts (e.g. war), and accidents. Examples are varying degrees of blindness, deafness, speech impairments (dumbness) and loss of limbs. Chronic illnesses too should be added to this list. Usually prosthetic devices such as magnifying glasses, Braille, hearing aids, sign language, crutches, wheelchairs and other similar aids have been designed to ameliorate handicaps in living, experienced by disabled people.

Constitution of Disabled Peoples’ International (1981) defines Impairment as ‘the loss or limitation of physical, mental or sensory function on a long-term or permanent basis’, with Disablement defined as ‘the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers’

Since all serious impairments giving rise to disability appear to stem from a recognised medical condition, historically, disability studies relied on a medical model centred almost solely on the individual. Following the medical model the disabled were segregated from ‘normal’ people and seen as deficient, lacking in self-efficacy, needing care. The disabled were defined by their deficiencies, in what they could not do, and not by what they could do. Society at large made no attempt to adjust to the requirements of the disabled, to integrate them, instead tending to isolate them in institutions or at home. Impairment was seen as the problem, and the disabled were restricted to being passive receivers of medication, care, and targeted assistance through state intervention or charity. Even today, as befitting the medical model, disabled people are regarded as requiring rehabilitation. They are subject to negative stereotyping and prejudice by the rest of society. Further, the ubiquitous built environment imposes restrictions on their mobility, access to employment and recreation.

Mike Oliver (1996), an academic with first-hand experience of disability and what it entails, calls the medical model an ‘individual model’ making a binary distinction between it and the social models which followed the Disabled People’s Movement in the 1970s. Vic Finkelstein, another academic and Paul Hunt, an activist, were also involved in helping to form the Union of the Physically Impaired against Segregation (UPIAS). Oliver fought against the ‘medicalisation’ of disability denying that there never was a ‘medical model’ of disability. Oliver believed that problems attendant on disability should not be regarded exclusively as the responsibility of the medical profession and other similar ‘experts’ who, from a position of power, see the problem as entirely located within the individual. For Oliver and others working in the disability field around the 1970s disability was a social state and not a medical condition. These pioneers were influenced by Marxist rhetoric much in evidence at the time.

The individual discourse on disability is allied to World Health Organisation pronouncements, as for example, by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. It owed its existence to advances in science and medicine which placed disabled individuals into medical categories for the convenience of medical practitioners and other health professionals. This, though eminently practical and appropriate at the time, was later experienced by the disabled population as an oppressive situation. They felt themselves labelled, manipulated, and powerless vis-a-vis their own bodies and personhood.

There is inherently nothing wrong with impairments being initially identified and treated as a medical condition. Indeed, this is a necessary first step, especially when individuals require continuing, lifetime medical care. It is when such treatment excludes or disregards the social environment, which to a large extent defines the parameters within which the disabled are expected to function, that problems arise. It inevitably invites social exclusion and disadvantage, segregation and stigmatisation, which is the fundamental criticism against the narrow medical model.

Still, there are apologists for the medical model of disability. They regard as questionable Mike Oliver’s denial that impairment has any causal correlation with the societal notion of disability. For them this is an ‘oversocialized’ and overly politicized view. Although he accepts that disability is both biologically and socially caused, he places ‘more significant causal weight’ on the former. They recognise the sociological significance of the body, but complain hat the social model suffers from ‘somatophobia’ due to an over-emphasis on the social context. Other researchers are keen to emphaise that there is social oppression at play in the field of disability.

Shakespeare and Watson (2002) stress that ’embodied states are relevant to being disabled’. They believe that social model advocates ‘over-egg the pudding’ by stating that disability is entirely a creation of society instead of accepting that ‘disability is a complex dialectic of biological, psychological, cultural and socio-political factors, which cannot be extricated’ to any great extent. However, Carol Thomas (2004) is critical of anyone not recognising the importance of disabilism in their discussion of disability. She thinks they confine themselves to a ‘commonplace meaning of disability’ ignoring the much larger significance allied to similar concepts like racism, sexism and homophobia.

Vic Finkelstein, a pioneering academic and activist in the field of disability, himself disabled, was a refugee from apartheid South Africa where he had been in prison for five years. Having been active in the civil and human rights movement in South Africa, he was immediately sensitised to the ghetto-like experience of the disabled in the UK. He saw that they were denied participation in the mainstream social and political life of the country. One of Finkelstein’s collaborators Paul Hunt, had been living in residential institutions (Cheshire Homes) from childhood and campaigned with other residents for a role in the management of such Homes. Following the medical model Cheshire Homes believed it had provided compensatory measures to meet the needs of the disabled, but disabled activists like Finkelstein and Hunt saw it as oppression of a minority by society at large.

These activists saw the medical model as the default position of the disability ‘industry’ staffed by care managers, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists and doctors. Disabled persons’ powerless and socially inferior position was reinforced in such circumstances, however sympathetic and dedicated these professionals were in carrying out their duties. It was only after the establishment of UPIAS that the political landscape changed. UPIAS (1976) concluded that ‘… it is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and exclude from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society’.

Apart from the horrors of the Holocaust which enabled doctors to experiment on disabled victims, there is at least one documented case of clinical abuse of disabled children in the USA. Referred to as the Willowbrook Experiment, in 1956 disabled children were deliberately infected with viral hepatitis to monitor progress of the disease over a lengthy period of 14 years. Parents had been under pressure to accede to it. It was also approved by the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene. To a large extent such extreme measures are no longer evident, but one can see how disability had been a custodial discourse.

A good example of a drastic change in the medical model is that only about four decades ago, the universally acclaimed and used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed homosexuality as a mental illness. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists practised aversion therapy (among others) to ‘cure’ these ‘unfortunates’. In spite of objections from a few extreme right politicians and religious fanatics, it is now accepted as a normal and positive variation of human sexuality. Indeed equal opportunity and human rights legislation have recognised the ‘gay’ community as a minority group. Some states even allow civil union and even marriage between same sex couples.

How the society’s views and treatment of the disabled have changed over the years is demonstrated by the example of Lord Nelson and President Roosevelt. With an arm amputated and blind in one eye, ‘the statue of Horatio Nelson defies modern infatuation with physical perfection by flouting his impairments.’ He contrasts Admiral Nelson with the wheel-chair using wartime US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Unlike Nelson, he was born into a modern culture where having an ‘impairment’ was supposed to directly ‘disable’ a person. Therefore, a ‘public statue of Roosevelt sitting in a wheel chair was unthinkable’ So now we are presented with a statue to a major USA public figure that takes care to hide any evidence of his impairment. There may not be a call to erect a statue to an even more modern celebrity like Prof. Stephen Hawking, but one must grant that without the medical advances that recognise his impairments making it possible for him to receive the right medical treatment and continue living and working as he does, there would not be a social or academic role for him to fill with such distinction.

In Australia, a variation of the social model was referred to as the rights-based model of disability. As in the UK, disabled people as a group there sought a political voice. Such activism and advocacy has brought gains, but they admit that there are also limitations. Although as a political strategy it helped to bring about needed changes through legislation, it locks people into an identity defined as being members of a minority community. This way the conceptual barrier between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ is maintained. There are also new challenges when the latest genetic and reproductive technologies include a larger proportion of the population as carriers of ‘bad’ genes and unwittingly placed in the disabled category inviting discrimination and avoidance.

Four decades after the Cheshire Homes incident, we now have the spectre of Remploy Ltd. a government owned factory network across the UK established in 1945 offering both employment, and employment placement services, to the disabled, being dismantled. Remploy had been producing or assembling a vast range of products in its 54 factories spread across the country. Towards the end of the last century it even moved into service sector work. In 2009/10 Remploy placed 10,500 disabled people in jobs in a range of sectors. This year the Coalition government has decided to close 36 Remploy factories making 1700 workers redundant (press reports). It is unlikely that UPIAS would accuse Remploy as being in the business of segregating the disabled, but at some early point in a disabled person’s life that type of provision was always likely to have been necessary.

On doctrinaire grounds alone neither the medical model nor the social model would be privileged in explaining changes in circumstances such as those occurring now in the UK as exemplified by the fate of Remploy Ltd.

Others in the field take somewhat of a middle ground. For them disability is a ‘post-modern concept, because it is so complex, so variable, so contingent, so situated. It is at the intersection of biology and of agency and structure. Disability cannot be reduced to a singular identity: it is a multiplicity a plurality.’ They assert that any social theory ought to include ‘all the dimensions of disabled people’s experiences: bodily, psychological, cultural, social, political, rather than claiming disability is either medical or social’. They found people unwilling to identify themselves as disabled. They wanted to see themselves as normal though different. Many people with learning difficulties refuse to be referred to as disabled.

People have many different identities. Those who do not accept being labelled disabled may own up to various other identities as more salient. For example, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class or marital status. The social model developed in the 1970s is no longer useful or valid. There needs to be a paradigm shift.

Today’s academics argue against a ‘crude determinism’ in favour of a more sophisticated approach to disability. For them, disability is not just a medical condition. Neither should it be reduced to being the result of social oppression, ‘overlaid with negative cultural meanings’. The disability literature has been plagued with overgeneralisations and it is now time to admit that it cannot speak for over six million people with impairments in Britain alone, and over half a billion across the planet. On the other hand, researchers in the field have accepted the notion that all human beings are impaired in one way or another. Disability is the normal condition of all humanity; it is not limited to a small minority of people.

The refusal to acknowledge that disablement or impairment is not just limited to those very obviously disabled but is a ‘normal condition of all humanity’ is clearly the reason for the historical oppression and exclusion of ostensibly impaired people by the majority of so-called normal people. This is said to be due to a need for denial of their own vulnerability, frailty and mortality, projecting them on to others less able to defend themselves. The far-reaching insight that we are all impaired should alert us to the fact that simplistic models may serve their purpose, but in a time-limited and contingent manner.

The above is a wide ranging exploration of academic discourse comparing and contrasting the concepts of the medical model and the social model of disability. Exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of either model as situated in historical context gave rise to the notion of disability as a universal human condition that neither model could explain comprehensively. Researchers and commentators today need to acknowledge that no one model could comprehensively encompass such a continually shifting paradigm.