Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

3 disability insurance items benefits advisors and employers should discuss

With open enrollment on the horizon, now is the time to talk about short- and long-term disability coverage offerings.

August, 06, 2019 | Lynn Goldbach –

Disability Insurance Awareness Month came to a close in May, but its messages are as relevant as ever. The seriousness of those messages creates the opportunity—and responsibility—for benefits managers and advisors to engage with employers well ahead of open enrollment. Like May, open enrollment will arrive—and be over—all too soon.

The reality is that one in four adults in the U.S. lives with a disability, and more than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they reach retirement age. While people take disability leave from the workplace for a variety of reasons, the most common causes—depression, arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases, and lower back and neck strains—can happen to anyone and have persisting impacts on individuals, their families and their employers. In fact, the Integrated Benefits Institute found that illness-related lost productivity costs U.S. employers $530 billion per year due to almost 1.4 billion days of employee work absence.

Despite these statistics, many individuals who experience a disabling event are physically, emotionally and financially unprepared for it. Cigna recently commissioned the Cigna Group Disability Study of 500 U.S. adults and found that among those without disability coverage, 52 percent took more than two years to recover financially and half experienced depression. On top of that, 42 percent became financially dependent on family and friends—about two times that of individuals with coverage—and roughly one-third or more were extremely worried about their ability to pay living expenses.

With open enrollment on the horizon, now is the time for benefits managers and advisors to engage with employers about the short- and long-term disability coverage offerings available to employees. Below are three key points to help benefits experts communicate the value of this coverage.

1. Financial support, outside of just salary, to help weather the disabling event.

The primary benefit of disability coverage, which most employees understand, is the partial payment of income should a working person encounter a covered disabling event. But the benefits don’t stop there.

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5 benefits mistakes that cost employees

Like a teen in a Porsche, an uninformed employee with a great benefits package is bound to make pricey mistakes. This article outlines the mistakes your employees are making with their benefits and some of our proven strategies to change their behavior for the better.

July, 22, 2019 | By Bob Armour –

Mistake 1: Choosing the wrong plans

Employees waste an average of $750 a year by choosing a plan that’s the wrong fit for them. Meanwhile, their employers waste anywhere from $500 to $2,100 a year on each employee who chooses the wrong plan. The average total cost of health care on the verge of $15,000 per employee, and with health care only getting more complicated, those numbers aren’t dropping anytime soon.

Communication strategies to try:

  • Avoid jargon: In all your benefits communications, explain things the way you would to a friend, in-person—with clear, conversational language instead of insurance gobbledegook. In particular, define terms like “deductible” and “premium.” Those words might be second nature to you, but to your employees they’re a clear signal to feel overwhelmed and panic-choose their plan from last year.
  • Create messaging focused on groups: By tailoring your messaging to fit a group’s unique benefits pain points, you’re more likely to get and keep their attention. It may take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it to create content for different employee demographics.

A few meaningful employee groups: Different demographics (Generation Z, Generation X, Baby Boomers); union vs. non-union employees; recent hires vs. tenured employees; employees getting married or having a child soon

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10 Million Single, Female Workers at Extreme Financial Risk From a Disability

More than 1 in 4 American women workers today will experience a serious disability before reaching normal retirement age.

June, 27, 2019 | The Council for Disability Awareness

In a new survey of the awareness and ownership of disability insurance across today’s workforce, The Council for Disability Awareness (The CDA) uncovered that the 32 million, unmarried women workers, who make up 25 percent of today’s American workforce are underinsured for a disability.

Among all single women in the U.S. whether never married, divorced or widowed – nearly 1 in 3 said they were “extremely unprepared” for any period of disability if they should lose their income. That number equates to roughly 10-million women in America.

The survey found that 52% of all single, working women, age 20-65, have no disability insurance at all. For those women without disability insurance, over half reported they never thought to get it or didn’t know enough about it. And of those who have disability insurance, only 55% say they have enough.

“We’ve always known that women had higher rates of disability throughout their working careers than men, excluding pregnancy. But we were surprised to see how few single women have disability insurance or other forms of income protection, or thought to get it,” said Carol Harnett, President of The CDA.

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Your most valuable workplace benefit may be the most overlooked

June 2, 2019 | By Sharon Epperson & Jessica Dickler – CNBC

One in 4 adults will become disabled at some point before reaching retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration. Yet few people prepare for the possibility that any one ailment could cause them to miss work for an extended period of time.

A total of 20.1 million adults of employment age report a work disability, according to research published by the National Institutes of Health.

Common causes include back or neck problems, depression, anxiety or other emotional issues as well as arthritis or rheumatism.

“Most disabilities you can’t even see,” said Leston Welsh, the head of disability and absence management at Prudential Group Insurance.

There are two basic kinds of insurance that can protect you financially if you are unable to work: Policies for short-term disability, which maternity leave is typically covered under, generally replace 60% to 70% of your base salary. Long-term disability, which ordinarily kicks in after three to six months, typically replaces 40% to 60% of your income.

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Taking “disability” out of disability insurance

There are plenty of ways to have a meaningful conversation about disability insurance without mentioning “disability.”

March 21, 2019 | By Pam Handmaker – BenefitsPRO

Sitting down with your average consumer and having a conversation about voluntary disability insurance is an uphill battle. From the get-go, you’re throwing around a loaded word: “disability.” Whether fair or not, it paints a picture. You can tell them all the stats in the world about the risks, that 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will experience a disability before they retire, but too often they can’t apply that statistic to themselves. It’s no surprise, since the most commonly cited reasons for enrolling in coverage are emotional ones. Employees are less and less likely to make a decision based on facts and figures.

This, then, begs the question: how do we approach disability insurance? Well, the best way is to remove “disability” from the equation entirely. By doing this, you’ll find that there are plenty of ways to have a meaningful conversation with employers and employees about disability insurance that place the focus on financial well-being, a healthy lifestyle and productivity in the workplace.

It’s about the paycheck

Not everyone offered a voluntary disability insurance policy will become disabled, but they will all collect a paycheck. More than protecting from a disability, their policy is there to protect that paycheck. Since almost 8 in 10 American workers say they live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, that’s a message that will really hit home.

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Misconceptions of coverage driving low participation in disability insurance

Many workers erroneously believe that a disabling illness or injury will be automatically covered by workers’ compensation or SSDI.

May 7, 2019 | By Katie Kuehner-Hebert – BenefitsPro

There are a number of myths that are causing many workers to not buy disability insurance, according to Prudential’s whitepaper, “Why Disability Income Protection Should Be Part of Your Financial Wellness Toolkit.”

While a majority of employers offer short-term disability and long-term disability benefits to their employees, only 38 percent of workers in private industry were participating in STD income insurance; 33 percent were participating in LTD income insurance, and more than 50 million U.S. workers don’t have disability income insurance.

“Prepared or not, most Americans are at least aware that they should attempt to save for emergencies and retirement,” the authors write. “Most, however, overlook taking the right steps to protect against one of the greatest threats to their overall financial security: being unable to earn a paycheck as a result of a short- or long-term disability.”

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SSDI Expert Answers Questions During Disability Insurance Awareness Month

Many U.S. workers are unfamiliar with their options when a severe health condition takes them off the job

Steve Perrigo, Allsup Vice President, answers common questions in observance of Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May.

May 1, 2019 | Globe Newswire

Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May highlights the importance of disability insurance as a financial and economic tool for American workers. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 42% of workers have access to short-term disability insurance and 34% have access to private long-term disability coverage. More than 155 million workers are insured for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Yet many workers still don’t realize the implications for their financial and work futures, according to Allsup, the nation’s premier provider of Social Security Disability Insurance representation services.

According to one study, only 38% of Americans are knowledgeable about disability insurance. Considering one in five Americans report having some type of disability, closing the knowledge gap could lead to improved choices by workers and advantages for the greater economy.

“The worst thing that can happen for some individuals is to totally miss out on the valuable advantages of disability insurance through a misunderstanding of its purpose and role for workers, especially following a disability, when their lives are already upended,” said Steve Perrigo, Allsup vice president. “Many people don’t realize there is a dual purpose to disability insurance: income and then support with returning to work.”

Why do I need disability insurance?

The data show that 1 in 4 workers, by the time they reach full retirement age, will experience a disability that prevents them from working. Disability insurance—both public and private—is expressly designed to help workers avoid financial devastation with the lost income when this happens.

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Just 4 in 10 Employees Protecting Their Paychecks

Snapshot of disability coverage revealed in The Harris Poll – OneAmerica® findings

May 1, 2019 | Business Wire

Roughly 4 in 10 working Americans (41%) report they have employer-sponsored disability insurance coverage, according to a new survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of OneAmerica®. However, less than one quarter of working Americans (24%) elect to have voluntary disability insurance through their employer ─ where employees have to pay for coverage themselves ─ leaving many without this key paycheck protection.

This new survey of short-term or long-term disability insurance coverage was conducted among 1,017 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who are employed full-time or part-time.

Disability Insurance Awareness Month is observed annually in May. OneAmerica uses the survey results to help educate consumers and to challenge assumptions.

Of the 64% of working Americans who report not having voluntary disability coverage, just under half (47%) say it is because their employer does not offer it; among them, nearly 3 in 5 (58%) say if their employer was to offer it, they would be likely to purchase it.

Those who do not have voluntary disability coverage through their employer cite the following as additional reasons for not selecting coverage:

  • Don’t see the value (14%)
  • Other obligations or expenses they feel are higher priorities (11%)
  • Can’t afford coverage (12%)
  • They think they are healthy and don’t need it (12%)

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Disability Insurance Awareness Month Taps Into Financial Wellness Movement

CDA is emphasizing that protecting paychecks fits in with general financial literacy and sustainability efforts.

April 30, 2019 | By Allison Bell for ThinkAdvisor

Life Happens and the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) are heading into the May 2019 Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) campaign with a focus on making income protection part of financial wellness.

The CDA, for example, will be observing the month by encouraging consumers and others to “get the facts,” and to visit a blog that features stories about financial, physical and emotional wellness.

Recent CDA blog posts cover topics such as general financial literacy and Earth Day as well as disability insurance.

Life Happens has also been offering agents, brokers and others digital materials that emphasize stories about real people, such as Dore Bakouris, a new mom, who suddenly discovered what it means to lose the ability to earn a paycheck, or to lose the ability to handle tasks at home.

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Disability insurance can protect you from unthinkable

April 10, 2019 | By Terry Savage | Chicago Tribune

Income tax time brings you face to face with the amount of money you earn — and have left to live on, after taxes. But what if you were disabled and couldn’t work? It’s something no one wants to think about: being incapacitated. But consider the odds.

The Disability Insurance Resource Center says that for a 32-year-old, a serious disability (three months or longer) is 6 1/2 times more likely than death. It also notes that only 3 percent of mortgage foreclosures are caused by death, while 48 percent are caused by disability.

The average disability lasts two to four years, but some people are disabled for life. And that’s where disability insurance comes in. There are basically two ways to purchase disability insurance.

Disability insurance may be offered as part of a group benefit provided by your employer or purchased independently. It costs less when purchased through a company benefits plan, and premiums are usually paid with pretax dollars.

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