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Little Events - Big Consequences

Life has some big events, such as weddings, the birth of a child, funerals, etc. Often, though, our day-to-day lives are made up of many smaller, and seemingly meaningless decisions - like what to have for lunch, when to take a walk, or what time we leave work to go to the store. We don't often think of those little things affecting us in BIG ways. But they can. And that's where my story begins.

We don't like think about the things that could negatively impact our lives - a serious medical diagnosis like cancer, stroke, or kidney failure. We go about our lives as if these things are out there, but will never impact us. We won't become disabled, and many think when we talk about disability insurance, we are talking about never being able to work at all for the rest of our lives. Yes, those things can, and do happen. But that’s not the only danger to American families' financial security.  It’s the little things that don’t go as planned that put our family’s financial security at risk.

Take my recent situation as an example. I developed DeQuarvians Syndrome (a type of carpal tunnel) in both my hands about 2 years ago. Shots & physical therapy did not work so I scheduled surgery in December for the end of January. My husband & I reviewed finances, savings, estimated how long I would be out, DI, etc and made a financial plan. January 31st, I had surgery on the first hand, March 6th surgery on the second. I thought I’d be back to work early April, only being on disability for about 10 weeks. 

Well, as you might suspect, things did not go as planned. Little thing number one - my first hand did not heal as quickly as I thought. Little thing number 2 - My second hand developed a few complications along the way. Little thing number 3 - Because of the complications, it pushed back my ability to even start physical therapy and then little thing number 4 - All of that pushed back my return-to-work date an entire month.  4 more weeks of not receiving a paycheck, 4 additional weeks of collecting disability. Those little things added up to what could have potentially been a much bigger problem. But, because of prior planning for the little unexpected things, I was able to adapt. Luckily, I’m back at work, still doing physical therapy several times a week, with minimal disruption to my family’s financial situation. I was able to make decisions based on what was best medically, not worrying about money. Why?  A few reasons:  1- Because I live in 1 of 5 states that require short term disability. 

2- If my disability had continued beyond 6 months, I’m covered by not only group disability that Mary Ann pays for,

3 - An individual policy I purchased in my 30’s before I developed any of these issues. 

Many people ask me why I purchased an individual policy when I have short term from the state and Long Term Disability from my employer. Several reasons including the fact that my group DI is taxable, and it doesn’t cover my entire salary.  And what if I no longer worked for an employer that offered group coverage? I’m still protecting myself. Also, most group policies are all or nothing. You either can’t work in any job, at all, or you aren’t disabled. My individual policy says I’m disabled if I can’t do the material and substantial duties of my job.  So, if I can’t type or use a computer (which is required for my duties), I’m disabled.  It also has a residual benefit that says if there is a loss of earning when I do return to work (say because I have to continue physical therapy and miss time every week) I can collect a partial benefit.

I wonder, what would I have done if I didn’t have the coverage?  Maybe, I wouldn’t have had the surgeries at all, and given up some of the hobbies I love so much, and definitely been slower at work. If I did have surgery, it would have only been one. And we would not have been able to do some of the things we did to make my recovery easier, like hiring a cleaning service to keep up the house, order take out those first days and weeks. The impact would have been felt for much longer.

So the point is, it isn’t always the big, dramatic things that impact our financial plans. It can be small things that snowball.  But having DI coverage in place gives you & your clients the opportunity to make decisions about medical issues without having to factor finances into it.

Share this story with your clients. While it's more difficult to discuss bigger events like cancer, or permanently debilitating injuries, showing them the "smaller side" of DI may help them realize the benefit of planning for those little things. And UMS is here to help! I'm available to discuss DI and with May being Disability Income Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to address these concerns.

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