US Workers Unrealistic About Disability Income Needs

September 12, 2006 ( - A new study commissioned by UnumProvident and conducted by Harris Interactive found US workers have unrealistic views of how to manage if their income is stopped by a disability.

In a news release, UnumProvident said its survey of 1,700 US adults revealed that 42% of respondents would rely on savings to make ends meet more than on any other resource through an extended disabling illness or injury. However, the reality is the average American family maintains only $3,800 in savings, according to the release.

While the majority of workers surveyed (97%) believe some level of disability income replacement is necessary, just over a third (37%) has disability coverage. Of those who have disability insurance, 37% did not understand that this benefit would replace a portion of income and help pay for monthly expenses.

Additionally, 47% of respondents said they thought income replacement coverage for one year or less was adequate. However, UnumProvident pointed out in the release that industry experience shows that the odds are as high as 1 in 3 of missing at least three months of pay due to injury or illness, and once an individual has been disabled for 90 days, the average length of disability is two years.

“The likelihood of becoming disabled is on the rise for working Americans while the financial consequences are growing more severe,” said Bob Taylor, executive director of a new disability industry organization, the Council for Disability Awareness, in the release. “Most working folks either don’t realize or grossly underestimate how vulnerable they may be.”