Americans Underestimate the Risk of Disability

When we think about protecting ourselves and our families, we think about locking our doors, buying a safe car, exercising, or even wearing sunscreen.

But do we think about protecting our incomes? According to a survey conducted by Anthem, while 90 percent of respondents say they lock their doors and windows, just 40 percent of Americans have disability income insurance, which could protect them financially if they were unable to work.

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, a time to consider that while disability can seem unlikely, it’s more common than many people think. According to a 2012 FBI report, the risk of a home robbery is one in 36, but people think they’re more likely to be robbed than to become disabled. Unfortunately, more than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire, per statistics from the Center for Disability Awareness.

“It’s our job at Anthem to help people protect against the unpredictable,” said Mike Wozny, president of Anthem Life. “Financial wellness is an important part of overall wellbeing, and disability insurance can help alleviate financial stress.”

It’s difficult to protect yourself from what you’re not expecting, and disability is a commonly underestimated threat. Most people think of workplace injuries or accidents when they think of disability, but the reality is 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illness, such as arthritis, back pain or cancer.

For this reason, integrating disability and medical benefits may also help employees get back to work sooner and help employers control costs of absenteeism. More than 80 percent of employers using integrated benefits agree this approach is valuable to both employees and employers, according to an August 2015 study by Employee Benefit News.

“Disability benefits provide peace of mind and financial protection, but they also help connect the dots for overall health,” said Wozny. “As one of the nation’s leading benefit companies, we recognize that physical, emotional and financial health are interconnected. The integration of health and disability plans helps consumers get back on their feet faster while providing a stronger financial foothold.”

This report presents the findings of a telephone omnibus survey using the field services of Opinion Research Corporation, from April 16-20, 2015. The sample consists of 1,010 adults (18 years old and older) living in the continental United States.