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Debunking common myths about short-term disability

The odds are pretty good that you or someone you know has experienced a disability at one time or another. In fact, 27% of American adults currently have some type of disability.1 You may also know someone who suffered a temporary disabling illness or injury that prevented them from working and required them to rely on supplemental income while they were out of work.

While these scenarios are quite common, so are popular myths around disability and short-term disability insurance. Let's break down and clear up some of the more common misconceptions.

Woman assisting man with walker in a living room.

Myth: Disability is chronic and long-term.

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, disabilities are not always long-term. Common disabling conditions such as back injuries or heart disease may be improved with surgery, rehabilitation and/or lifestyle changes, allowing the afflicted person to resume work and regular everyday activities after just a few weeks or months.*

Although the duration of a disability may be relatively short, it would be a mistake to underestimate the amount of money a person needs to help replace lost income during that time. An injury or illness may prevent a person from working, but it won't prevent their bills from continuing to arrive each month. That's when disability insurance can help by filling in some of those income gaps.

Myth: Financial worries about disability only affect older people.

Fact: Of all working generations, Millennials worry the most about being able to support themselves if they become disabled and unable to work.2 While it is true that older people are significantly more likely to experience a disability than younger people,3 Baby Boomers are least likely to express finance-related worry about the possibility of suffering a disability compared to other generations.2

Unlike their older counterparts, Millennials may feel they have a lot of financial responsibility at this point in their lives, such as childcare for young children, a new mortgage, student loans, and so on. This creates pressure for that group to stay healthy and actively working.

Those who are "very" or "extremely" concerned about being able to support themselves if they are unable to work due to a disabling illness2

Chart displays percentages of those very concerned about being able to support themselves if disabled.

Further underscoring the level of financial burden that Millennials are currently experiencing, this generation is also the most worried about paying for medical expenses in the event of an illness or injury.2 By offering group disability insurance, an employer can help employees of all ages feel more financially prepared in case a disabling injury or illness occurs.

Myth: Pregnancy does not count as disability.

Fact: Insurance carriers offer pregnancy benefits with group disability insurance. However, there may be some requirements. For example, pregnancy may be subject to pre-existing condition time limits just like other disabilities.

As with any other disability, the pregnant person typically needs to show that they are totally disabled (meaning they are unable to perform their job), are currently under the care of a doctor, and are not working for a wage during the time that they are disabled.

Myth: You must be totally disabled to receive a disability benefit.

Fact: If a person has group disability insurance coverage through their employer, their coverage may also include a partial disability benefit, which pays the covered person if they are under the care of a doctor and received a total disability benefit immediately prior, but are now able to work part-time.

Let's take Alex, for example. Alex is a teacher who suffered a serious neck injury while snowboarding, so he filed a short-term disability claim under his group's policy. He was away from work for one month on total disability and is now able to return to work for three or four hours a day, but he must rest often and undergo daily rehabilitation. Alex's part-time status now makes him eligible for partial disability benefits for a given period.

While Alex was out of work on total disability, he received 100% of the monthly benefit set by his group policy. Now, his partial disability allows him to receive 50% of the monthly benefit. This helps Alex transition back to work while also helping him financially.

Myth: Disability insurance only pays for off-the-job injuries.

Fact: Insurance carriers may offer disability insurance for off-the-job injuries as well as 24-hour coverage. While most injuries occur outside of work, 14% of them take place while on the job according to the National Safety Council.4 When an on-the-job injury occurs, having 24-hour disability insurance can help employees to replace lost income and cover out-of-pocket health care expenses or any other daily living costs while they recover.

Note that the benefit amount payable may be reduced or offset by the amount you receive or are eligible to receive under workers' compensation or state disability income benefits.

Disability Insurance from Allstate Benefits

If enrolled employees find themselves unable to work due to a covered sickness or off-the-job injury, Disability Insurance from Allstate Benefits can help. Contact a sales representative today to learn more about the many ways that the Good Hands® team works to help you and your employees.

1Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic | CDC (page updated May 15, 2023)
22024 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA
3For Disability Pride Month, 8 facts about Americans with disabilities | Pew Research Center
4Worker Off-the-Job Safety - Injury Facts (nsc.org)
*Depending on the carrier, short-term disability insurance may pay a benefit for three to six months, and some carriers may pay up to one year or longer (after a standard elimination period).

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