It’s estimated that only 40% of American families and individuals have enough savings to cover at least three months of living expenses, and less than 30% can cover six months. The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) also estimates that 25% of Americans will be diagnosed with a disability before they turn 65.
That speaks volumes about the importance of employer-provided long-term disability insurance plans, which can cover a significant portion of permanently injured employees’ medical costs and wages. Many employers offer these plans, and private insurance companies administer most of them.
The top 5 claims
Each long-term disability plan is different in terms of covered conditions and illnesses. If you are diagnosed with a long-term disability or disease, you should ask your employer for a copy of their plan and see if it’s included. The CDA says the five most common claims are for:
1. Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Nearly one-third of all claims fall under this category, which includes conditions related to neck, back, joint and muscular disorders. This includes:
- Disk problems
- Back pain
2. Nervous system conditions and disorders
Many people can manage these issues with medication, physical therapy and other treatments. However, some are unable to work even part-time jobs. These conditions include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Multiple sclerosis
3. Circulatory and cardiovascular disorders and conditions
The American College of Cardiology estimates that 2,160 people in the U.S. die every day – one every 40 seconds – from cardiovascular disease. Thousands of others require surgery and rehabilitation to treat permanent conditions. Many are unable to collect paychecks as a result.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 38% of women and 41% of men will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes. Many are unable to work due to treatment as well as the physical toll of the disease.
5. Mental conditions and disorders
Mental illnesses and conditions, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are among the most common long-term disability claims. Some can improve over time, but severe symptoms often make it impossible for others to work.
Filing a claim
If you have a covered condition or illness, it’s crucial to file the complicated documents correctly so benefits can begin as soon as possible, especially if your savings are limited. Insurers reject most claims, many due to paperwork errors and other avoidable mistakes. But long-term disability claims are administered under the federal Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA). Lawyers specializing in this area can help you file paperwork and protect your rights with insurance companies.