Mitigating Financial Loss from Disability


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Excerpt of and article by Kimberly Palmer | U.S. News and World Report

While the word “disability” might conjure images of wheelchairs or missing limbs, most disabilities leading to the inability to work are more pedestrian: pregnancy, a torn ligament or even a sprained ankle. Illnesses like cancer, which require prolonged treatment, are another common cause, says Carol Harnett, president of the Council for Disability Awareness.

“Disability as it relates to work is about the messy reality of our lives. Sometimes it’s happy times like having a child; it’s also about inconvenient times, like if you tweaked your back or got a concussion,” she says. The median amount of time it takes to return to work after a disability is six weeks, and Harnett says many people don’t have the savings on hand to see them through that long without income.

That’s why many experts recommend building a significant emergency fund, taking out disability insurance if it’s available to you and finding an employer that will support you along the way. Here are some of the ways people have chosen to protect their family from experiencing the financial stress of disability:

  • Prioritize your rainy day fund — some specialist recommend a fund of six months to one year of living expenses.
  • Get disability insurance — purchase a group disability policy if one is offered by your employer. If a plan is not offered by your employer, you might consider purchasing a plan from a professional organization.
  • Take care of yourself — Smoking, drinking, texting while driving, and reckless driving all contribute to your risk of experiencing a disability.
  • Find a more accommodating profession — consider a job that is less stressful and less physically demanding.
  • Research your employers policies before taking a job — few people expect they will experience a debilitating illness or injury, but given the possibility it may be worth evaluating an employer’s policies before accepting a job.


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Thank you to Kimberly Palmer for writing the article; U.S. News and World Report for committing its resources to publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the picture and text in this post.

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