Understanding Disability Insurance

By: Quamrul Polash

You probably wouldn't think twice about the fact that health insurance is absolutely essential, but what about disability insurance? It's just as important. No matter how careful you are about job safety or staying healthy, sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent an accident or illness. While your health insurance is vital in getting you treatment, what happens when you can't go back to work right away because you're recovering? Your bills need to be paid, and your family needs to eat. This is why disability insurance is absolutely necessary.

Disability benefits will help you with your cost of living during the time that you are not well enough to return to work. They will usually not pay enough money to equal your working wages, but should be enough to pay your basic bills. Almost all disability insurance does not begin immediately, but requires a waiting period of two weeks to several months.

If you are expected to be unable to work at all for at least a year, you may be eligible to have Social Security pay you disability benefits. The amount you will receive will depend on your age and how much money you were making at your job.

There are also types of disability insurance that your employer may offer, where the premiums are taken out of your paycheck. Almost all employers are required by law to offer short-term disability insurance of some sort, like paid sick leave, although the amount of time available may vary from just a few days up to six months, or even two years.

You also may be eligible for your company's long-term disability insurance plan, if they have one. This may cover you in a situation where an injury or illness prevents you from working for a very long time, or even for your lifetime. Check with your state laws to see what your employer is required to provide you with, and ask your benefits department to explain the plan in detail.

While you are investigating your insurance options, you may wonder what some of the terms used really mean, like 'non-cancelable' or 'guaranteed renewable'. Non-cancelable means that your policy can never be changed or canceled, unless you don't pay your premiums. This helps to make sure you aren't discriminated against when you are not well enough to work. Guaranteed renewable means that the policy will be the same every year, and the premiums cannot be increased, which means that you don't have to pay more after having a workplace accident, unlike a lot of auto insurance. If you don't understand any other terms in your policy, be sure to ask your insurance administrator to explain them, or look them up yourself.

You may think that this sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not too difficult. Understanding the principles of disability insurance will allow you to make the right choice of an insurance policy for your unique situation, and to be reassured that your family and your home will be protected in the event of sudden illness or an accident on the job.

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