Everyone knows a little about Social Security Disability, but not many working people realize it is very difficult to get. Only about 30 percent of the applicants are approved, and the system is cash strapped.
Still, becoming even temporarily unable to work is a very real problem. According to the Social Security Administration, one in four 20-year-olds will experience a disability for 90 days or more before they reach age 67. Suddenly, paying rent, making a car payment, even buying groceries will depend entirely on non-work resources. In the short term, maybe you could rely on savings, if you have them. Disability that lasts longer than 90 days becomes increasingly difficult.
One solution is disability insurance.
There are two kinds: Short-term and long-term.
According to Nerd Wallet, both types replace a portion of your monthly income up to a cap.
Short-term disability insurance typically replaces 60 to 70 percent of a base salary. It will pay out for a few months, or maybe even a year, depending on the policy. It has a short waiting period, sometimes just two weeks, after you become disabled and before benefits are paid.
Long-Term coverage replaces 40 to 60 percent of a salary and benefits end when disability ends. It may have a cap on the number of years, or it may end at retirement age. The waiting period usually is longer: up to 90 days after disability before benefits are paid.
Rates vary according to age, smoking, income, occupation, gender (women usually pay more because they file more claims) and other factors. The annual price ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent of annual income.
As the work force ages and Americans live longer with diseases such as cancer, disability rates are rising. People aren’t always able to keep working.
Some things an individual should consider when buying a policy:
- Check to see if disability insurance is available at work.
- Find out what conditions are covered as a disability under the policy.
- If the policy covers you for “own occupation,” it protects you if you can’t perform the specialized tasks of your career. “Any occupation” coverage will not pay if you can still work in any occupation at all.
- To save money, lengthen the time before benefits kick in rather than limiting the period during which you can receive payments.
- Choose long-term disability over short-term disability.
- Check to see if a policy you buy at work is portable or convertible so you can take it with you to another job.