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someone in wheel chairOver the past 10 years, the U.S. economy has experienced ups and downs, but the lessons learned by workers – including the value of a paycheck and the importance of protecting their finances – will reverberate for years. As workers strive to safeguard their incomes, an insurance product that warrants serious consideration is short term disability. After all, just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.1

Given the frequency of disabling accidents and injuries, you’d think that Americans would be diligent about setting aside funds for a rainy day. However, most aren’t that practical or that flush with cash. According to the 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report, 65 percent of American workers have less than $1,000 on hand to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident.2

What is voluntary disability insurance?

Short-term disability insurance is one of many voluntary insurance policies available to help workers cope with out-of-pocket costs associated with serious accidents or illnesses - costs major medical was never intended to cover. In the event of a physician-documented disability, participants receive cash benefits that can be used to help pay for daily living expenses, such as the mortgage or rent, gas, groceries, utilities and other necessities.

It’s important to note that workers who become disabled may lose more than their ability to earn a living: They may also lose savings, retirement funds or even their homes. Disability insurance plays an important role in financial planning and safeguarding their financial futures.

Who needs voluntary short-term disability insurance?

The need for disability insurance protection is crucial, particularly among primary wage-earners. Because disabling injuries or illnesses often lead to significant medical bills, anyone who works - whether they are single, married, with children or without – should consider voluntary disability coverage.

Employers should consider adding employee paid short-term disability coverage to their benefits options because by doing so they’ll give their workers increased peace of mind. Disability insurance helps protect workers from financial ruin with:

  • Benefits that are paid for both total and partial disability.
  • Coverage that’s sold on an individual basis.
  • Available guaranteed-issue options.

Common misconceptions

Although many workers assume they are protected by employer-paid disability coverage, a growing number of companies have cut back on the benefits they offer. A decade ago, it was commonplace for a company’s internal disability plan to pay an employee 70 percent of income if disabled, but today the median salary replacement rate for short-term disability plans is 60 percent of annual earnings.3

Furthermore, many people assume they will receive benefits from Social Security or workers’ compensation. However, that is often not the case. Between 2005 and 2014, the percentage of applicants awarded Social Security benefits at the initial claims level averaged 23 percent.4 What’s more, the average monthly Social Security benefit paid to disabled Americans in 2016 was only $1,166.1

As for depending on workers’ compensation to cover a disabling injury or illness, employees should consider that 95 percent of disabling accidents and illnesses are not work related, meaning workers’ compensation doesn’t cover them.5

The bottom line is that weathering an economic recession has opened Americans’ eyes to the value of voluntary short-term disability insurance.

Companies and their employees are recognizing the financial vulnerability that comes from being unprotected and underinsured. Neglecting to secure disability insurance is a prime example of how saving a few dollars in the short term can cost thousands in the long run.

A real-life experience

I'm a huge fan of Aflac. I am a policyholder for five of the insurance policies Aflac offers. Even though I already had a short-term disability plan offered through my employer, I applied for Aflac's short‐term disability insurance policy, too. I recently had a health event that disabled me for over three months. Without the help of the money coming from Aflac for my policy, I would have had to use all of my savings in order to pay my bills. My savings wouldn't have covered all my bills, and I likely would have had to borrow money. The policy really helped me keep my head above water.

The claims process was easy. I received the money very quickly after filing my claim, which made life so much less stressful while I healed.

Thank you for bringing these policies to my attention and explaining how they can help me and my family. I am also really grateful to my employer for allowing Aflac to come in and speak to all the employees about the policies offered by Aflac.

As I have told my co-workers, I love the Duck!

Thank you,
Steve Cameron, South Dakota
Testimonial valid through 10/27/17