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I Had an Accident, and Now, I’m Not Working.

In Texas, someone is injured every 2 minutes 16 seconds. Every 2 hours 36 minutes, someone in Texas dies from an on-the-road accident. What happens next depends upon the insurance company. The auto-insurance-company can take years of investigation, court battles, and negotiation to settle a claim. While this may seem like it will take care of expenses, still, it leaves the injured facing the struggle of paying expenses from the accident and the costs of living. Food must be purchased, the electric-bill must be paid, the car-company won’t go more than a few months without payment, and the house is dangerously approaching foreclosure of the mortgage. For people working in high-risk work environments, e.g. the oil-fields, the chances of experiencing an injury preventing a person from working increase dramatically. 

Many people have heard of accident insurance, but this type of insurance usually applies when an accidental death occurs. In the case of accidents where an individual survives, disability-insurance provides a means to continue living. Disability-insurance covers an individual who experiences a life event that inhibits or prevents his ability to continue working. In 2012, reported that 12% of all persons in the US were disabled. The disability rates can be broken down into categories depending on conditions acquired or born with. With more than 12% of the potential workforce incapable of working, the chances of needing a backup plan for a possible stop to work are prevalent. 

Imagine writing all of the necessary, monthly expenses down on a piece of paper. Now, imagine that an illness, accident, or a new psychological impairment causes an abrupt end in a person’s ability to go to work. This scenario occurs in many of the dedicated servicemen and women who return to the US with PTSD. These individuals have lost their ability to perform many jobs to the standard to which most people are accustomed. Unfortunately, anyone experiencing a physical or mental disability will struggle without the assistance of this type of insurance. 

Disability-insurance routinely insures a certain percentage of the amount of income. Most policies cover 65% of the income. If the insured experiences a disability, they will receive payment in the amount of 65% of his income. Insurance to cover potential disabilities comes in varying forms. Short-term- and long-term-disability make up the two main categories of this insurance. Short-term-disability covers individuals experiencing a situation which isn’t expected to last more than a set amount of time. Most claims require a two-week non-working, waiting period before applying for benefits. Severe colds, influenza, broken limbs, or mental impairments can cause a person to be out of work for more than this two week requirement. These conditions may not require medical attention beyond the initial visit, such as the placement of a cast. Most of the work-force spends a large potion, if not all day, on their feet performing their jobs. In the case of a broken leg, the person wouldn’t be able to perform this activity for six to eight weeks. While short-term-disability-insurance claims don’t provide a full paycheck, they provide a means to maintain an adequate lifestyle. If someone experiences a loss in work beyond this time frame, they must file for a different type of claim.

Long-term-disability claims cover against losses experienced for a much longer term. In the most drastic cases, long-term-disability coverage can be indefinite. Permanent physical and mental disabilities occur that stop any working source of income. The federal government provides a background safety-net for individuals without disability coverage, but it’s limited. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are the two main forms of the government’s programs. Unfortunately, the amount of money received depends upon the amount of social security credits obtained during a person’s working history. The government calculates the social security credits each year when an individual files his income taxes. To add insult to injury, the government rarely approves disability claims when filed for the first time. The appeals process takes a minimum of six-months for a judge to give a second look for federal disability claims. In some cases, the government may require a physician certification of their own choosing to assess an individual for disability. Though, these programs provide relief for the millions of people without insurance, recipients face the challenge of paying expenses while waiting for approval. Most people don’t have the financial backing to pay their expenses for up to three years when the government decides to grant benefits. Furthermore, the federal government will assess past tax years to see if an individual owes them any money. In any case of unpaid, federal debts, the government will garnish the disability check until the debts are paid. This results in more time passing before a disabled person receives payment for a claim. It also comes with a caveat; any minor infractions can result in the withdrawal of government-disability checks. In 2013, the federal government experienced one of the greatest financial crises in history: it shut down. For the people expecting to receive their disability check during this fiscal crisis, the government failed to issue checks in a timely manner. While politicians managed to restore the government to a functioning status, the possibility always remains of it occurring again. Government-funded programs work, but everyone needs a solid platform to rely on when considering their income during a disability. 

Purchasing disability-insurance guarantees income in the event of an accident or illness. The amount of debt adds up quickly when all sources of income are lost, and the federal government’s programs take too much time to be a reliable back-up plan. With a purchased policy, disability-insured individuals will have the financial resources necessary to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. With the odds of something occurring higher than most people expect, this insurance gives peace-of-mind to both the insured and his family. For amounts much less than a whole month’s worth of income, a person can purchase a policy to provide a source of income when something does happen.