What Are the Real Odds of Becoming Disabled?

Corey —  February 23, 2010

       According to insurance companies and their agents, you have an 80 percent chance of becoming disabled during your working years. I’m not sure about you, but that statistic just doesn’t mesh with my experience in life and the experience of people I know.

       Ron Lieber, author of the Your Money section of the New York Times, has a great article about the true odds of becoming disabled. I can’t do a better job than him in sharing the info he learned, so I recommend you check it out for yourself. I also want to share a link to a graph in the article because I want you to see it.

       I found this article from The Oblivious Investor who wrote about it on Twitter.

       What do you think about the true odds of becoming disabled and your need for disability insurance? Let me know in the comments.



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

4 responses to What Are the Real Odds of Becoming Disabled?

  1. Actually, I have been temporarily disabled x 3 in the last two years all due to the same issue. This last time resulted in surgery (bone/tendon in foot). I ran out of family leave and was terminated from my job. I am still collecting disability since I cannot currently return to my usual form of work (I am a Occupational Therapy Assistant and need to be 100% able to physically work, no cast). My disability coverage was a work perk and it has saved us financially. I never thought this would happen to me but it did. Either you need a policy or make sure you have a healthy rainy day fund.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Donna!

    Yours is a prime example of why you must consider your own personal situation before making a financial decision. In your case, you work in a field where your physical health is very important since you can’t work without it. In your case, if you don’t have a large enough cushion in savings then you should at least have a short-term disability policy. As for long-term disability, you have to consider Social Security benefits, your ability to cut back on spending, and your household’s ability to find other sources of income. If those won’t cut it, then a supplemental long-term disability policy would be wise as well.

    My main point is that the overall chances of becoming disabled, even for a short while, are not quite as high as disability insurance companies and their agents would like us to think. But as you pointed out, if you ever need that insurance, you’ll be glad you have it. The key is in determining whether you need it and how much you really need. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  3. My company offers a short-term and long-term disability plan. So far, I haven’t had to use it, but do know others who have had to transition to that portion of the company’s benefits. None of the women that I know had to take advantage of the program due to pregnancy. Interesting that would be cited as the one of the major reason for younger women, but I can certainly see that.
    .-= LillieĀ“s last blog ..What everyone should know on how to avoid a tax audit. =-.

  4. I’m not sure about that statistic either, Lillie. But like you said, I can definitely understand how it could increase the disability rates for women. For those who don’t plan to have kids or can’t, the odds would probably be quite a bit lower. Yet another reason you have to look at your personal circumstances before making financial decisions rather than accepting “conventional” advice.