If an injury or illness kept you out of work, could you pay your bills?

(BPT) - You helped friends move their furniture; now your back is so sore you can’t move. You could be out of work and unable to collect at least three paychecks.

Your doctor says you’ve eaten your last bacon-wrapped hot dog, or your health could keep you out of work for four paychecks.

You made a diving catch to clinch the win for the company softball team. Though you were carried off the field a hero, you’ll be away from the office for eight paychecks.

We’re all temporarily able-bodied — no one is immune from an unexpected illness or injury. One in four of today’s 20-year-olds will experience a disability before they hit retirement age, according to a June 2016 Social Security Administration fact sheet.

Back injuries, heart attacks, knee replacements or other disabling conditions can leave workers without a paycheck and employers short-staffed. Based on the average time out of work for each ailment as reported by MDguidelines.com (which assumes a medium-duty job classification), these conditions could put employees out of commission for six weeks, eight weeks or 16 weeks, respectively.

Yet, less than 30 percent of American workers have disability coverage, according to a 2018 LIMRA survey. Those counting on the government to provide disability payments are often disappointed: The latest Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program shows that nearly 70 percent of SSDI claims are denied and less than 40 percent of those claims are approved upon appeal.

Insurers like Prudential Insurance Company of America have come forward to fill the gap, offering employer-sponsored disability coverage, absence management and return-to-work solutions.

“No one imagines their livelihood being threatened by an injury or disability, even for a short time,” says Jim Gemus, a senior vice president for Prudential Group Insurance. “The statistics show it’s something we need to be concerned about.”

Risk of a debilitating injury isn’t limited to physically demanding, blue-collar work. Disabling illnesses and accidents often happen outside the workplace — like at a softball game.

With more than 1,170 short-term and 1,645 long-term disability clients, Prudential saw a need to provide easy-to-use tools to help workers and employers understand how much coverage they may need. Prudential’s Disability Insurance Needs Estimator calculates the expected amount based on age, marital status and income. Disability insurance helps pay a portion of these costs, reducing the financial burden at a time when individuals can least afford any additional stress.

“A good employer-sponsored disability insurance plan not only helps protect employees’ financial wellness, it also helps businesses handle the costs and complexities of disability management,” Gemus says. “Our main concern is helping individuals pay the bills so they can recover and get back to work.”

That may be the biggest benefit to employers who provide disability insurance. After all, every winning company softball team needs to keep its stars on the field.


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