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Disability: What’s the Real Risk?

"It won't happen to me."

That's how many of your employees might respond when asked to consider the likelihood of an illness or injury that causes them to miss work and lose income. And they wouldn't be alone. Working Americans often misunderstand their risk of disability. In fact, 64% of wage earners estimate their chance of experiencing a long-term disability at just 1-2% [1]. 

But disability can happen to anyone, at anytime. The reality is that over 25% of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire [2]. Currently, more than 30 million Americans between the ages of 21 and 64 are disabled, according to the most recent U.S. Census.

What are the most common causes of disability? Many people envision a car accident or another unexpected disaster that causes a major injury. And accidents do account for about 10% of disabilities.  But the vast majority of long-term absences from work are caused by illnesses such as cancer, heart attack or diabetes, and by what might be thought of as "everyday" injuries - back problems, joint pain and muscle pain [3]. And those disabilities often turn out to require significant recovery time: the average long-term disability claim is 31.2 months [4]. 

Since many employees live paycheck to paycheck or possess limited savings, the loss of income for an extended period can cause major financial hardship.  Their expenses - mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments - don't stop just because their income streams have ceased.

Short- and long-term disabilities are possibilities for which everyone needs to prepare.  Your employees may not be aware of their actual disability risk. And they may not have considered the full impact a disability would have on their income, lifestyle and future plans. The Council for Disability Awareness, a non-profit group dedicated to educating the public on the effects of disability, offers two handy tools that can help you raise employee awareness and encourage responsible disability planning:

Personal Disability Quotient (PDQ) - The PDQ helps people calculate their chances of being injured or becoming ill, thus becoming forced to miss work for an extended period of time. 

Earnable Income Quotient (EIQ) - The EIQ adds up the amount of income a wage earner could potentially lose to a disability.

To discuss your company's disability insurance program and how to empower your employees to make the best choices, contact your HUB International Employee Benefits Consultant today.

This information is brought to you courtesy of Lincoln Financial Group.  More information about Lincoln Financial Group can be found at

[1] CDA Disability Divide proprietary research March 2010 

[2] Social Security Administration Basic Facts, December 2011

[3] Council for Disability Awareness, Long-Term Disability Claims Review, 2011  

[4] 2010 Gen Re Disability Fact Book