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Expert: Disability benefits may save your income (Q&A)

After 33 years of working in disability insurance, Daniel Steenerson sees one major problem: Not enough people realize they need it.

Steenerson, president and CEO of Disability Insurance Services, has made it his mission to provide every American with paycheck protection in the form of disability insurance.His company works side-by-side with insurance agents to assist them with providing the disability benefits that are best suited for their client.disability benefits

We spoke with Steenerson recently to find out more about why disability insurance is so important.

How to get the right disability benefits for you

What is the need that disability insurance fills, and how can it protect you if something should happen?

Disability insurance protects your income as well as peace of mind. If you become too sick or injured to work then your policy can allow you and your family to be taken care of until you are able to go back to work.Disability insurance protects individuals from losing their house, cars, and toys in the event of an injury or illness.

The number of Americans getting disability benefits has been climbing in recent years. How many Americans are currently getting disability benefits?

The number of Americans getting disability benefits can be anywhere from 36 to 51 million people. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, since 2008, veteran claims are up 28 percent. And the federal government spent nearly $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some kind of disability, which is somewhere around 7 percent of the overall population or 16 percent of the workforce.

What’s the most surprising statistic you’ve seen concerning disability insurance?

What’s really striking…is the chance of a disability happening to you. Most people have an image of being in a wheelchair if they’re disabled or hobbling along the street on a cane if you’re disabled. That’s not reality. Today, you can be walking down the street and see someone who looks as if they’re capable, but they might be on a claim because of a hidden ailment that’s preventing them from doing their job.

Who do you think needs disability insurance the most and tends not to have it?

Every American should strongly consider protecting their paychecks for their financial health.One in three Americans between ages 35 and 65 will become disabled for more than 90 days, (according to the U.S. Social Security Administration). Non-affluent and/or blue-collar individuals tend not to have individual coverage as often as white-collar workers, but may have some employer-paid group coverage.Some individuals rely on other coverage such as Worker’s Compensation if they were to become injured on the job.That view can be extremely risky since less than 5 percent of disabling accidents and illness are work-related.

What are some mistakes consumers make when it comes to disability insurance?

The biggest mistake they can make is that that they don’t buy it. And they don’t buy it because they don’t see the need. They don’t understand that everything you have and everything you hope to have in your life is going to depend on one thing: your wealth. Your wealth is your health, is what we tell people. If you don’t take care of your health and you can’t go to work, then everything that rests on that income is going to be taken away from you. All those assets start to dwindle.

Why do large income earners have a critical need for disability insurance?

When you get into the higher incomes—six figures and up—understand what’s at risk because they might have spent the last 10 years going to school to get their doctorate or advanced degree. They understand if they lose their high income, they’ll lose their lifestyle.

What should consumers consider when weighing the need for disability insurance?

You always need to stop and consider your budget. Carriers don’t issue policies that cover 100 percent of your income. The reason why is because they know you won’t go back to work. So what they’ll do is issue 70 percent of your gross income, which really works out to be about 84 percent of your take-home pay, which is what we all live on. You have to ask yourself if that’s enough.

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