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The Dangerous Seven

Seven disability misconceptions that endanger your family’s future

What would your family do if you suffered a disability and couldn't work? Think it won't happen to you? Most disabilities aren't related to accidents and injuries. In fact, while misconceptions about disabilities are common, they can be costly. Is your family at risk?

Misconception #1

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will cover my living expenses and kick in quickly.

The reality: Qualifying for benefits can be difficult and time-consuming. SSDI is reserved for people who are severely disabled, usually by a medical condition that lasts at least one year or results in death. Two (of the many) requirements to be approved include: can you do the work you did before and can you do any other type of work? That includes working outside of the ministry. If you can continue to do any kind of work, you are unlikely to be approved. If you are approved, the average monthly payment is $1,190 for men and $928 for women.

Misconception #2

The majority of disabilities are caused by accidents.

The reality: According to a 2011 study by the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), 71% of people surveyed were wrong on this, ranking accidents as the leading cause of disability. Only about 10% of disabilities are caused by injuries or accidents. Fully, 90% of disabilities are caused by illnesses. Chronic diseases — cancer, heart disease, diabetes — have blindsided 25 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Illness-related disabilities limit one in 10 Americans from everyday activities and living. Back pain and arthritis are also significant causes of long-term disabilities.

Misconception #3

My family would be okay financially if I were disabled.

The reality: According to a study by the American Payroll Association, most Americans — about 71% — are at immediate financial risk after missing just one paycheck. In fact, 65% of working Americans said they could not cover everyday expenses for a year if they lost their paycheck. The American Journal of Medicine reports that medical problems (including disability) contribute to 62% of personal bankruptcies and half of all home foreclosures.

Misconception #4

The majority of disabilities are short-term.

The reality: The average disability lasts around two and a half years. And one in eight will be disabled for more than five years.

Misconception #5

My disability will most likely happen at work, and be covered by Workers’ Compensation.

The reality: Fewer than 5% of disability-causing incidents are work-related. More than 95% of disability causes do not qualify for workers' compensation.

Misconception #6

Others will take care of me and help provide for my family until I’m back on my feet.

The reality: One of the biggest blessings in church life is your church family. In the event of a disability, those around you — your ministry colleagues, congregation, loved ones — are likely to take up love offerings, bring food and pitch in for early expenses. But disabilities can be lengthy, and they directly affect your ability to be a breadwinner. Ministry resources are already stretched thin — and are unlikely to be able to sustain the level of support you’ll need.

Misconception #7

It won't happen to me.

The reality: In fact, 64% of people believe that they were highly unlikely to be disabled during their career. But the reality is that one in four Americans will become disabled during their career. The “clean bill of health” mindset lulls many into thinking that they don’t need to protect their salary against disability.

You do not have to be one of the 100 million workers (according to the SSA) without income from disability insurance. If you become disabled and need to spend time away from work, disability insurance replaces some of your income. It’s a way to protect your paycheck, your ministry and your family’s financial future.

Learn more about GuideStone’s long- and short-term disability insurance.

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.